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How Social Security Disability is Determined In New York
If you have a serious injury or medical condition that prevents you from working indefinitely, you are eligible to apply for Social Security Disability (SSD). This program is financed and operated by the Social Security Administration (SSA), a branch of the federal government. According to information provided on the SSA website, most initial applications go to a network of local SSA offices for social security disability determination. Applications can also go to a state agency called Disability Determination Services (DDS).
Local SSA and DDS offices receive more than two million applications for benefits every year. Additionally, more than two-thirds of applicants receive a denial notice the first time they apply for SSD benefits. Because SSA employees are so busy, they don’t have time to explain the application or to help people complete it accurately.
The social security disability process is long and complicated, which is why many local residents choose to retain Long Island disability lawyers at the start of the process. Terry Katz & Associates, a legal firm in the Long Island area, has represented the interests of SSD applicants for more than 30 years. If you’re considering filing for SSD benefits, we highly encourage you to retain a lawyer from the start. This helps to ensure that you understand the social security disability process and reduces your likelihood of making common errors that will result in a denied application for benefits.
Understanding the Social Security Disability Process
When reviewing applications for SSD, SSA employees consider the following five questions:
- Are you currently working?
- Does your physical handicap, mental handicap, or illness meet the SSA definition of severe?
- Does your disabling condition appear in the database of acceptable conditions maintained by the SSA?
- Do your limitations prevent you from performing the type of work you did before your disability?
- Do your limitations prevent you from training for and completing a different type of work?
The SSA does not consider you disabled if you are currently working and earn a salary greater than $1,000 per month. If you are not working due to a disability and you have a condition listed in the SSA database, you would likely qualify for benefits. If your conditions are not listed in the database, the SSA considers whether it is equal to or greater than in severity to a similar condition on the list. It is likely to approve you for benefits if the severity is similar or greater but moves on to consider your work history if it deems that your disability is less severe than a similar disability in its database. Here are some of the many factors the SSA considers from your work history when making a determination:
- Primary tasks performed
- Pay rate history
- How much supervision you required
- Ways you used your arms, hands, and legs on the job
- How long you stayed at each job
- Whether you used independent judgment on the job
- Equipment, machinery, and tools used at work
- The average length of your workday
- How often your job required you to stand, kneel, sit, walk, stoop, climb, balance, crouch, and crawl
- Abilities, knowledge, and skills your previous jobs required you to have
- Whether you had to carry heavy objects for work
- How much you had to use your senses of hearing, speaking, and sight on the job
- Environmental conditions present
After evaluating your work history, the SSA reviews in-depth information about your physical and mental abilities, past training, and your current disabling condition. This makes up the fourth step of the above five-step process. For the final step, the SSA evaluates all provided information along with considering your age, education, and work experience to determine if you are capable of adapting to a different line of work. It will deny your request for SSD benefits if it feels that you still have residual functional capacity (RFC). Read on if you still feel unclear about how is disability determined.
What Medical Conditions Qualify for Determination?
The SSA maintains a large database of physical conditions, emotional or mental conditions, and illnesses or syndromes that it considers too disabling to work. Although the database contains hundreds of different conditions, most of them fall into one of the general categories described below.
- Back injuries or painful conditions such as degenerative disc disease, bulging disc, or herniated disc
- Blood vessel and heart disorders such as coronary heart disease and multiple heart attacks
- Breathing problems such as asthma and severe sleep apnea
- Cancer, particularly if it is expected to cause your death
- Central nervous system and neurological disorders such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease
- Digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis
- Emotional and mental problems including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as cognitive issues due to brain injury
- Immune system disorders such as lupus
- Impairments of bones, joints, or muscles, which may include conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome or osteoarthritis
- Syndromes such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Some conditions are more difficult to qualify for than others due to lack of solid medical evidence about how disabling they can be. A New York disability lawyer from our firm is prepared to take your case no matter what your condition.
How Can an SSD Lawyer Help Me with My Claim?
Attempting to represent yourself while appealing a denied SSD claim is rarely a good idea. For your first appeal, you attend a disability hearing and need a New York disability lawyer present to help you through the process. The further you get into the levels of appeals, the more essential it is to have a lawyer help uncover the medical evidence needed to prove your claim and present a convincing oral argument to the judge who will decide your case. All applicants denied for SSD benefits have the legal right to retain a lawyer to help them appeal.
Discuss Your Eligibility with an Experienced Lawyer
At Terry Katz & Associates, we are on the side of sick and injured New Yorkers. You have paid into the social security system for years and should not have to go through such a struggle to receive the benefits that you need now that you can no longer work. However, that is the reality of the SSD system at present.
We invite you to contact our office at 888-488-7459 to reserve a time for a free and confidential review of your social security disability case. Our firm serves clients in Long Island and throughout New York City. We look forward to learning more about you and helping you fight for the SSD benefits that you need.