In central Florida, if you are disabled, cannot work, and need disability benefits, you’re also going to need legal assistance. Before you complete any benefit application or form, you should discuss your situation with a Winter Haven Social Security disability attorney.
Obtaining disability benefits is a complicated and confusing process. Two different disability benefit programs are provided through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
- Social Security Disability (SSD) pays benefits to workers who become disabled before their retirement age. You may qualify if you have a condition defined by the SSA as a disability but you were employed and paid Social Security taxes for a number of years.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a different program, funded by taxpayers, which pays benefits to blind or disabled low-income adults and children. You may qualify if you are disabled or blind, have limited assets, and have little or no other income.
About ten million people in the United States receive monthly SSD benefit payments, while approximately eight million receive monthly SSI payments.
To Apply for SSD or SSI Benefits, Take These Steps
Before you apply for SSD or SSI benefits, speak with a Winter Haven Social Security disability lawyer about the benefits application process. When you submit an application for disability benefits:
- Submit your application promptly after you become disabled. The deadlines are strict, and when you delay, you’re losing benefit payments.
- Expect your first application for SSI or SSD benefits to be denied, and then ask your Winter Haven Social Security disability attorney to file an appeal of that denial.
- A letter from a doctor who says you are disabled may not be enough to win benefits for you. You must be advised and represented by a Winter Haven Social Security disability lawyer.
- Follow your doctor’s advice and don’t miss any follow-up visits. Missing medical appointments could make it look as if you do not really need to receive SSI or SSD benefits.
- Don’t assume that working with a good lawyer will be costly. Most SSI and SSD attorneys in Florida represent the disabled on a contingency fee basis, which means that you pay your attorney only when you start to receive benefits.
Your attorney will walk you through the process step-by-step so that you begin to receive your SSI or SSD benefits as quickly as possible.
How Much Weight Does a Doctor’s Statement Carry?
The decision to deny or approve SSI or SSD benefits is made solely by the Social Security Administration. If a doctor has confirmed your disability, that is only one among a number of factors the SSA takes into account when it approves or denies a disability benefits application.
What Should Be Included With Your Application for Disability Benefits?
When you submit your application for SSI or SSD benefits, include the:
- names of doctors, clinics, and hospitals that have treated or examined you
- dates of your hospitalizations and treatments
- names of the medications your doctor has prescribed
- hard copies of your medical and physical examination results
- names and phone numbers of your recent employers, and dates of employment
- name and phone number of your workers’ compensation or health insurance carrier
- emergency contact information for a family member or a trusted friend
What Will a Disability Attorney Do to Help You?
Most first applications for SSI or SSD benefits are rejected, although benefits are often approved in the appeal process. If the Social Security Administration rejects your first benefits application, ask your disability benefits attorney to appeal the decision immediately.
You should have legal advice from a central Florida disability benefits lawyer at each stage of the application and appeal process. A good lawyer will save you time, answer your questions, complete or help you with your application, and appeal a denial of your disability benefits.
Why Are Disability Benefit Applications Denied?
According to the SSA, the leading reasons for the rejection of disability benefit applications are:
- The applicant’s disability was not severe enough to qualify.
- The applicant was able to do the same work he or she had done in the past.
- The applicant was able to do other work.
- The applicant failed to pursue the claim or to provide sufficient evidence for the claim
- The applicant’s disability is temporary and not expected to last twelve months.
How Does the SSA Classify Disability Benefit Applicants?
If you are approved to receive disability benefits, it is because you qualify under SSA disability guidelines which classify your ability to work – your “Residual Functional Capacity” – as sedentary, light, or medium:
Sedentary work means that you have the ability to sit in the same position for as long as six hours and the ability to lift – occasionally – as much as ten pounds.
Light work means that you have the ability to stand up or to walk for as long as six hours and the ability to lift – occasionally – as much as twenty pounds.
Medium work means that you can stand up or walk for as long as six hours and the ability to lift twenty-five pounds – frequently – and to lift as much as fifty pounds occasionally.
How Does the SSA Process Disability Benefit Applications?
SSI and SSD applications are processed by entering an applicant’s Residual Functional Capacity (sedentary, light, or medium), age, and employment history into a “vocational grid” that indicates whether a disability benefits application should or should not be approved.
A person who is 34 years old, for instance, and has the ability to do “light” work will probably be denied benefits. However, some claims may be approved even if the grid indicates they may be denied, because the SSA also takes into account your emotional and cognitive limitations.
If you’re disabled for more than a year, your benefits are more likely to be granted. If the disability is temporary, you are not eligible for SSI or SSD benefits. Worker’s compensation is one possible alternative in Florida if you were temporarily disabled in a work-related accident.
What Else Should You Know About Applying for Disability Benefits?
Should you become permanently disabled, speak to a central Florida disability benefits attorney before you begin the application process for SSI or SSD benefits. Your lawyer will know what steps you should take and how to obtain the benefit payments you need.
The application process takes time, and even when you are approved for benefits, it can take some time before your first payment arrives, so if you need to receive disability benefit payments, get started now and make the call to a Florida disability attorney today.