Helping disabled Floridians earn the income benefits they deserve
Many people, even after years of paying a portion of their income into the Social Security system, believe the Social Security system only benefits them in their old age, after retirement. And, while others are aware that Social Security benefits are available to Americans who become disabled and suffer financial hardship as the result of an inability to work, many of us have heard that these income benefits are extremely difficult to obtain, that the application process is prohibitively lengthy and complicated, and that most applications are denied.
At the Golden Law Group, our skilled Brandon Social Security Disability attorneys are dedicated to guiding clients through the process of applying for the disability benefits they need. By drawing upon our skill and knowledge of the how the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers these applications for disability income benefits, we help disabled Floridians prepare and present the most effective application possible.
Do I qualify for Social Security disability income benefits?
The first requirement for eligibility for Social Security Disability (SSD) income benefits is a determination of whether you were previously employed for a sufficient period of time, and that you have paid a minimum amount of taxes into the Social Security system.
Fulfilling both of these requirements, those reviewing your application for benefits then determine:
That you have the disability, impairment, or illness that you are claiming to have;
That this medical condition severe enough to have prevented you from being employed on a long-term basis—at least a year;
That, given your age, education, or other factors, you are unable to obtain alternative employment sufficient to sustain you financially due to your claimed medical condition.
The SSA looks at these and other factors before approving income benefits. Because of this, an effective presentation of your case can require extensive documentation of both financial and medical records. Gathering these records is an important component of the application process, and a skilled Brandon disability benefit attorney can assist you to collect those materials most likely to assist your claim.
If my application is denied, can I appeal that decision?
Although well over half of all applications are denied upon initial submission, a denial does not preclude you from ever collecting any income benefits. A notice of denial from the Social Security Administration should contain an explanation of the reason for denial, often providing the basis for a stronger, more focused argument on your behalf.
There are four steps in the appeal process. Denial at one step creates eligibility to appeal at the next highest step:
Reconsideration—a Florida disability examiner looks at the application originally submitted to the SSA, as well as additional materials.
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing—a judge reviews all of the written evidence, and can also hear testimony from witnesses.
Appeals council review—This SSA council reviews the findings of the ALJ, either affirming or reversing it, or sending it back to the ALJ for another hearing.
Federal district court—at this final step, as with the appeals council, a federal judge can affirm or reverse the ALJ findings or send it back to the ALJ—often with instructions.
Although this appeal process may seem as prohibitive as the application itself, it is noteworthy that over 81% of all applicants who pursue an appeal ultimately receive the income benefits that they need.
Whether you have not yet applied for benefits—or your application has been denied—we urge you to contact us today
With offices in Brandon and Bradenton, an experienced Florida Social Security Disability attorney from the Golden Law Group is ready to help you with every stage of the SSD application process. Remember, if your claim has been denied, you must appeal that decision in writing within 60 days or start the application process all over again from the beginning. Contact us today at (813) 375-0098, or contact us online for a free consultation.