Social Security Disability Lawyer
serving Oneonta and Blount County
Are You Unable To Work Due To An Injury, Illness or Mental Impairment?
When a disabling physical or mental condition prevents you from returning to work, it can cause serious financial strain. Without a steady paycheck, how will you be able to make ends meet?
Luckily, there are federal income replacement programs available through the Social
Security Administration (SSA) to help you during this challenging time.
You may have thought Social Security was only for retirees, but benefits are provided to those who suffer a disability before retirement age.
The programs that offer benefits based on disability are:
- Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income insurance (SSI)
If you’ve worked most of your life and paid social security taxes on your earnings, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.
Conversely, if were unable to work or worked but did not pay Social Security tax, then you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — a program based on financial need rather than work history.
Helping You Get The Disability Benefits You Need
Unfortunately, the process to obtain SSDI and SSI benefits is lengthy and difficult.
Many claimants are denied when they initially apply. This can occur even if you have a solid case. Oftentimes, the best way to get a claim denial reversed is with the help of a skillful lawyer.
I’m Ted Williams Jr., a disability insurance lawyer dedicated to making sure that those who suffer from a disability in Oneonta and Blount County receive the disability benefits they are rightfully entitled to.
No matter where you are in the process — whether you are preparing to file a claim or have been denied benefits and want to appeal, I can effectively advocate on your behalf and make sure your rights are protected.
Schedule a Free consultation today so I can learn more about your personal situation and review your claim.
If you decide to proceed with me as your attorney, I can:
- Walk you through the claims process to make sure your initial filing is accurate and in accordance with Social Security Administration standards
- Collect and submit relevant medical evidence from your physician
- Carefully review your denied claim and gather the necessary documentation to strengthen your claim and refile for appeal
- Represent you at ALJ hearings
- Represent you before the Appeals Council
- Take your case to federal court if necessary
Do I Qualify For SSDI or SSI?
You are insured and eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits if you have:
- worked five of the last 10 years before you became disabled
- paid a certain amount of Social Security tax on your earnings over that period of time
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is paid to disabled individuals who are low income individuals/families. SSI child’s disability benefits are paid to disabled children who are under 18 years old and have parents or guardians who are of lower income.
In addition to the earnings requirement, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability, which includes:
- Having an impairment lasting at least 12 months or longer, or an impairment which is terminal
- Inability to do “substantial gainful activity” (defined as earning $1,090 or more a month; for statutorily blind individuals the amount is $1,820)
- Have a severe medical impairment as defined by the Social Security Administration, some of which include:
- blindness or deafness
- breathing problems
- chronic heart disease
- extreme psoriasis involving hands and feet
- HIV positive
- immune system disorders
- mental disorder
- multiple sclerosis
- neurological disorders
- rheumatoid arthritis
- seizures, despite the use of medication
- Have a condition with enough physical or mental limitations that it eliminates your ability to go back to one of your former jobs (potentially any of your past work performed within the last 15 years).
- Severe enough that it prevents you from using your education and work skills, and remaining functional abilities, to do any other type of work.
Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits
While it’s true you have to be disabled for 12 months in order to get approved for social security benefits, you don’t need to wait that long to file. In fact, the sooner you apply, the more money you are likely to receive.
The SSDI and SSI claims process can present many bureaucratic hurdles for someone trying to establish their eligibility for benefits.
As an experienced disability attorney who has prepared many claims, I know what it takes to substantiate the scope and severity of your impairment.
To build a strong claim, there are certain things we can include to increase your credibility with the SSA and improve your chances of winning your disability case. Some of these may include:
- medical records
- physician’s clinic notes
- residual functional capacity form which indicates the nature and extent of your pain and how it impacts you over a normal workday
- vocational or medical experts
- test results
- prescription drug history
- emphasize your consistent employment history
- statements from bosses or family members who can corroborate your own reports of your symptoms and limitations
After we have filed your claim at your local Social Security office, it is sent to the Disability Determination Service (DDS) in Alabama which will approve or deny the claim.
In most cases, this decision is reached within four months.
Fighting A Denied Claim
It can be extremely frustrating and disheartening when you are denied Social Security Disability, but now is not the time to give up! The majority of claims are won in the appeals process.
The Appeals Process
- Step 1: Request an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing. At this hearing, you will have the opportunity to tell the judge about your disability.
- Prior to the hearing, I will prepare you for these proceedings, find witnesses to testify on your behalf and submit evidence that could help prove your disability. The judge will listen to your testimony, and to the testimony of any other witnesses, and make an independent decision about whether to award you Social Security disability benefits.
- Step 2: Appeals Council. If the judge denies your claim, we can request a review by the Social Security Administration Appeals Council.
- Step 3: Federal Court. If the Appeals Council denies your claim, or does not choose to hear it, we can bring your case to federal court in Alabama.
How Much Can You Receive in Disability Benefits?
The amount you receive each month in SSDI benefits will be based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began.
It is not based on how severe your disability is or how much income you have. Most SSDI recipients receive between $700 and $1,700 per month (the average for 2015 is $1,165).
Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment amounts for 2016 are $733 for an individual and $1,100 for an individual with a spouse.
If you have a serious disability that has left you unable to work, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.
Call the Law Firm of Ted Williams, Jr. today to schedule a Free consultation and case evaluation.