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Disability Lawyers Long Island – Injured on the Job
When you’re severely injured or suffer from an illness that renders you unable to earn any type of significant income, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) from the federal government. The intent of this program is to provide a financial safety net for Americans who have worked and paid taxes but can no longer do so through no fault of their own. In many cases, these serious injuries and illnesses happen at work and result in lifetime restrictions.
SSD can be difficult to qualify for and complex for applicants to understand. Terry Katz & Associates is a New York law firm dedicated to helping clients through the process of applying for SSD and challenging denials. We have provided legal representation to sick and injured workers in Long Island and New York City for more than 30 years.
What is Social Security Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines SSD as a program designed to provide financial support to people who meet the definition of total disability. It is not for those with short-term disabilities or workers eligible to receive temporary payments under the state workers’ compensation program. SSD is also different from programs for veterans that award payments based on a percentage of disability. The SSA will deny any applicant that it feels is not 100 percent disabled due to an injury or chronic medical condition.
To qualify for SSD, you must be completely disabled for at least one year or have a condition that is expected to result in your death. You will be subject to future medical exams to determine if you still meet this definition and can, therefore, continue to receive benefits.
Am I Eligible for Social Security Benefits?
If you meet the criteria of having a permanently disabling or life-threatening condition, the SSA still considers whether you can engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). This means that you can work enough to earn a level of income that puts you into the non-disabled category according to the SSA. The SSA imposes limits on how often a person can work and the amount of income he or she can earn to be considered non-disabled. As of 2018, that amount is $1,180 per month before any taxes or deductions.
It’s a common misconception that people applying for or receiving SSD cannot work at all. The SSA is more concerned with the number of hours you can work in a week and the income you can bring in monthly.
Before you apply for SSD benefits, you must meet the following three criteria at a minimum:
- You must have worked for at least 20 quarters out of the last 40 or five years out of the last 10. The quarters do not have to be consecutive. This is the SSA’s way of reserving benefits to those who have paid into the system for a long time.
- Your physical or psychological disability must be severe enough to prevent you from working in your current field or to obtain training to work in a different type of job.
- You must be able to obtain written evidence from your doctor confirming your disability as well as a description of your specific limitations. It’s likely that the SSA will ask for additional documentation in the form of test results, doctors’ notes, and other types of confirmation of your disability.
The SSA maintains a database of disabilities, and it requires applicants for SSD to meet at least one disability on its many lists. Although the entire database lists hundreds of potential disabilities, it groups them into 14 primary categories.
This category list is current as of January 2017:
- Cancer and malignant neoplastic diseases
- Cardiovascular disorders
- Congenital disorders that affect multiple bodily systems
- Digestive system disorders
- Endocrine disorders
- Genitourinary disorders
- Hematological disorders
- Immune system disorders
- Mental disorders
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Neurological disorders
- Respiratory disorders
- Skin disorders
- Special senses and speech
As you can see, qualifying and applying for SSD is not an easy undertaking. You also need to consider that the SSA receives over two million applications for SSD benefits every year. That means that its employees do not have the time to help applicants through the process. Additionally, approximately two-thirds of all applicants get denied for SSD benefits on their first try than those who receive an approval notice. It is after receiving their first denial that many people consider hiring a social security disability attorney.
Common Reasons for Denial of SSD Benefits
One of the most common problems with first-time applicants is that they don’t fully understand the instructions and therefore don’t provide all information requested. They may also include the wrong information that is not relevant to their case.
Some of these common oversights include:
- Not including important medical details such as dates of appointments, results of tests, specific diagnosis codes, medications taken, and names of doctors
- Failing to proofread and correct errors before submitting the application
- Not including a complete work history, which the SSA considers mandatory before it will even review an application for benefits due to illness or injury
- Listing wrong legal information such as identification numbers
- Errors in financial reporting such as income amounts you list in your application not matching the amounts listed on your W2 statements
These errors are easy enough to make, but people often feel so discouraged by the time required to complete the application and the subsequent denial that they never follow through on speaking to Long Island disability lawyers.
Should I Hire an SSD Lawyer?/ Obtaining Benefits
Hiring a social security disability lawyer is generally in your best interest. If you are applying for the first time, our experienced attorneys can assist you in gathering the required information and avoiding common mistakes. For those who have already received a denial letter, our team of experienced attorneys is prepared to help you prepare for your hearing. This takes place with a Federal Administrative Law Judge, a fact that many applicants for SSD find intimidating.
All applicants for SSD who have received a denial have the legal right to request an appeal and a hearing. However, you must inform the SSA of your intentions within 60 days of the date of your denial letter. If you choose Terry Katz & Associates for legal representation, we will help you prepare for the hearing by making sure that you have all relevant medical records and you have organized them in an efficient manner.
Although you will probably feel nervous about the hearing, we want to reassure you that it takes place in a small and somewhat informal setting. Those present will include you and your social security disability attorney, the judge, and a hearing assistant. The judge will receive your medical records as evidence. You should also expect to give a testimony about the history of your disabling condition and how it prevents you from working. The judge may request someone known as a vocational expert to speak regarding whether you have the physical and mental capacity to receive training for a different type of job.
It is our job as your Long Island disability lawyers to demonstrate your specific limitations and how they affect you beyond the definition of your diagnosis. For example, you may be able to push yourself through one day of work per week and live with the consequences but it would be impossible for you to do this on a full-time basis.
You should not expect to receive a decision on your eligibility for SSD benefits at this hearing. That will occur in writing within four to six weeks to give the judge enough time to consider all evidence and testimonies. The good news is that you will begin to receive benefits shortly if the judge rules in your favor. If you get denied a second time, you may file an appeal with the Appeals Council within 60 days.
While this is your first time dealing with social security disability, the attorneys at our law firm are experts at it. We will carefully explain SSD law to you and help you understand if you even qualify to apply for benefits in the first place. We will help coordinate your documentation, help you deal with medical bill collectors, draft a convincing letter to state your case, and much more. It would be difficult to impossible to accomplish these tasks on your own.
Speak with a Long Island Social Security Disability Lawyer
Whether you’re considering filing for SSD for the first time or have received one or more denials, Terry Katz & Associates is here to help. We invite you to call 888-488-7459 today to request to meet with a disability attorney for a free legal consultation. We maintain an office in Uniondale, New York near Long Island and look forward to helping you fight for the disability benefits that you need to support yourself and your family.