When a person in Kentucky becomes injured or ill and can no longer work for a living, he or she may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. These disability payments become the primary source of income for many recipients. Some 8.5 million Americans receive disabled-worker benefits from the Social Security Administration.

Many applicants have questions about how long it takes to get approved for SSD benefits and how long it will take to receive that first monthly check. Government statistics and our experience as Kentucky Social Security Disability attorneys tell us that approval after submission of an application can take three to six months, with most cases falling on the higher end of that scale. The SSD beneficiary can expect to wait another month or two after approval to receive a check. If you are owed back pay, it may be even longer before you see that.

Many applications are initially denied, requiring the applicant to file an appeal to seek benefits. From 2008 through 2017, 64 percent of initial disability claims on average were denied, according to the annual statistical report released in October 2019. It takes Kentucky Courage to keep fighting when your application has been denied.

The SSD attorneys at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer will handle your claim with respect and dignity. If you have been denied SSD benefits, we can help you file an appeal. The best way to avoid additional delays is to make sure your SSD application is complete and accurate when you submit it. This is one of the benefits our SSD attorneys provide – preparing your application with complete supporting medical evidence the first time.

If you live in Kentucky and you are unable to work because of a medical disability, call us at (877) 809-5352 today to set up your free consultation.

Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

An individual who has a history of working for a living may become eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits if he or she has been injured or become ill and will be unable to return to work for at least 12 months.

To receive SSD benefits, an applicant must demonstrate that he or she is disabled according to the Social Security Administration’s strict definition of disability. You must show that:

  • You are unable to do any substantial gainful activity because of your medical condition(s); and
  • Your medical condition(s) has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or is expected to result in your death.

You must have a medical diagnosis backed by a medical examination and treatment records to demonstrate disability to the satisfaction of the Social Security Administration (SSA).

An applicant must also have a history of work in jobs that required the payment of Social Security taxes. You must have worked long enough — and recently enough — to have earned the number of work credits needed to qualify for disability benefits. Generally, at age 31 or older, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years, including the year you became disabled. Younger workers may qualify for benefits with fewer credits.

A work credit is also known as a “quarter of coverage” (QC). The requirement to earn QC changes from year to year. In 2020, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,410 in wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $5,640, you’ve earned your four credits for the year.

How are SSD Claim Decisions Made?

In Kentucky, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Disability Determination Services (DDS) makes disability determination decisions regarding applications for benefits.

However, you must file your application at one of the 27 local Social Security Administration offices in Kentucky. The SSA office will determine whether you have the work credits for eligibility and then send your application to the DDS to conduct a medical review.

Most claims are processed electronically. That enables more than one individual at a time to work with your application. This speeds up the process and saves money.

The SSD review consists of collecting medical evidence from your doctors, clinics and hospitals, and other information about how your condition affects your ability to work for a living. Disability adjudicators and medical professionals at DDS will evaluate the evidence to decide whether you are disabled under the SSA disability rules. They may ask you to undergo a medical exam and may ask you to submit additional information.

You’ll need to comply with any requests from DDS or your claim could be denied.

The SSA maintains a list of impairments that are considered within its definition of disabling. The Listing of Impairments can be found online. An applicant can be found to be disabled if he or she:

  • Has a medical diagnosis for a listed impairment
  • Has a severe impairment that is equal to a listed impairment
  • Has an impairment considered severe because of its medical and vocational implications
  • Had previously established entitlement to a disability benefit.

When a claim is denied, it may be due to a medical denial. The DDS Medical Review Team decides the applicant’s medical condition was not so severe that the individual was unable to work. A claim also may receive a technical denial such as, for example, a lack of sufficient work credits. A technical denial is based on a non-medical reason to reject the claim. If the SSA identifies the basis for a technical denial, the medical review is not conducted.

A denial of benefits may be based on the applicant:

  • Earning too much money. The SSA does allow an applicant to perform some work but sets an income limit above which the individual is said to be doing substantially gainful work. For 2020, the limit is $1,260 a month ($15,120 per year) or $2,110 ($25,320) for someone who is legally blind.
  • Not having enough QC work credits. The applicant may not have worked long enough or recently enough to qualify.
  • Failing to cooperate, such as failing to get a medical exam or not providing additional information when requested.
  • Failing to follow prescribed medical treatment. In theory, the SSA would like a disabled worker to recover and return to work. While this may not always happen, failing to follow prescribed treatment is seen as working against this goal.
  • Having an impairment resulting from drug addiction or alcoholism. If an applicant is found to be disabled and there’s medical evidence of drug addiction or alcoholism, the team will decide whether the applicant’s drug addiction or alcoholism is material to the determination of disability. If substance abuse is found as the ongoing cause of disability, benefits may be denied.
  • Providing insufficient medical evidence of disability.
  • Having an impairment that is not expected to last 12 months.
  • Being able to perform another type of work.

Hiring a Social Security Disability Attorney

social security disability claimOur Kentucky Social Security Disability attorneys can help you file an initial application for SSD benefits and make sure your application is properly submitted. Avoiding mistakes or omissions from the outset is the best step an applicant can take to speed the process of an SSD claim. If there are any questions or requests made by the SSA or the Kentucky DDS, we will work with you to respond promptly.

We will start by reviewing your case to ensure your application includes all the necessary information. If data is missing, we will do the primary legwork of obtaining it. If necessary, we can refer you to doctors and other medical care providers for exams to update your records.

As your claim moves forward, your Social Security Disability lawyer will communicate with SSA and the Kentucky DDS to stay informed about the status of your application and update you regularly. Because of our experience in Kentucky, our firm and our attorneys are known in local SSA offices as well as among officials with state DDS Medical Review Teams.

Our objective is to help you secure SSD benefits as soon as possible. If you have already applied for benefits and your application was denied, we can step in and represent you in the appeals process.

As discussed above, a majority of initial applications are denied initially. What is necessary after a claim is rejected is to move promptly to appeal. As part of the appeals process, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge. We can ensure that you present a solid case on appeal by securing additional evidence for your application, preparing you and your witnesses to testify, and being ready to refute any counter-evidence.

Working with our experienced SSD insurance attorneys will give you a better chance of receiving the benefits you need sooner and with less worry about the outcome of your case. We can handle every aspect of your claim from start to finish, including navigating the appeals process if necessary.

Don’t wait any longer. Contact Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer, your Kentucky SSDI attorneys, at (877) 809-5352 for a free consultation today.