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SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is statutorily mandated long term disability insurance program managed by the Social Security Administration and funded through Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes imposed on both employers and employees. Be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must have a serious medical condition which has lasted or is expected to last a period of no less than 12 months, or that is expected to end in death.

Additionally, you must have been paying FICA taxes, which are functionally equivalent to “premiums” paid for disability insurance. For this reason, in order to be eligible for SSDI benefits you must have been working and paying “premiums” by reporting your income to the Internal Revenue Service. With few exceptions, if you have not worked at least 5 of the past 10 years, you will not be eligible for SSDI benefits. However, you may still qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, even if you have never worked.Despite what critics of SSDI claim, receiving disability benefits has never been more difficult, with approval rates down almost 20 percent since 1994. Understanding the rigorous qualifying criteria, and navigating the often confusing application process, make retaining an attorney familiar with the systems an essential part of your application for benefits.

 

Claiming the disability benefits you are entitled to begins with an initial application with your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. You can make the application on the phone, in-person at the office, or online (Click Here for Online Application). The initial application gets basic educational, vocational and work information about you to SSA for consideration in your claim. The initial decision is usually made within two to three months, and may require that you present to a physician [provided by SSA to assess your condition.

 

If your initial decision is a denial you must file a Request for Reconsideration with your local SSA office, or online. The Request for Reconsideration must be within sixty (60) days of the date on the initial denial letter. If you miss this sixty day deadline, you will have to re-apply for benefits and begin the process again.

 

The decision on your Request for Reconsideration will take another two to three months. If you are denied a second time, you will need to file a Request for Hearing with your local SSA office, or online . The Request for Hearing must be made within sixty (60) days of the date on the reconsideration denial letter. If you miss this sixty day deadline, you will have to re-apply for benefits and begin the process again.

 

Once you have filed the Request for Hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ), your file will be transferred from your local Social Security office to the regional Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). From the date of the Request for Hearing to the actual hearing itself, the average wait time is nine to twelve months, making the total application process take anywhere from fifteen to twenty four months to complete.

 

Throughout this process, our experienced attorneys at Michles & Booth will help you prepare for the hearing by collecting medical records, conferencing with physicians, obtaining work restrictions from your physicians and advising you as how to best proceed with your claim. There are no fees or costs if you do not recover SSDI benefits, so contact us today for a free consultation. We look forward to the opportunity to help you.

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