Social Security Disability (SSD) Lawyer Serving Colorado Springs
If you are unable to work for at least a year due to an injury or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSD benefits are available to qualifying individuals who have accumulated a certain number of work credits. SSI is possible for individuals who are low income and have very little to no previous work experience.
Applying for SSD and SSI can be a complicated process. You need to show significant proof of disability in order to receive benefits. Close to 65 percent of individuals are denied SSD by the Social Security Administration on their first try. Having an attorney prepare your application can reduce the chances that your claim will be dismissed due to small but significant errors.
An experienced Colorado Springs SSD attorney at The Sawaya Law Firm can help you pursue the benefits that you deserve. Our legal team has years of experience helping clients apply for Social Security Disability benefits. If already been denied, our lawyers can help prepare an effective appeal and represent you in all appeals proceedings.
Call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
How Does the Social Security Administration Define Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as a physical or mental illness or an injury that is both severe and long-term. In order to qualify for SSD or SSI, your health condition must prevent you from working. The condition must have already lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months.
If you are still able to work a little while you are disabled, you may still qualify for SSD or SSI if you make below the monthly amount considered to be substantial gainful activity (SGA). The SSA does not recognize partial disability or assign a percentage of disability. They will either decide that you are or are not disabled.
The SSA has specific criteria they use to determine if you are disabled. Understanding these requirements is critical in order to submit a complete and convincing case for Social Security Disability benefits. A skilled SSD attorney knows what it takes to build an effective claim that documents your disability and why you deserve full benefits.
What Is the Difference Between SSD and SSI?
Both SSD and SSI provide cash benefits to disabled individuals. The main difference is who is eligible for each program:
- SSD is available to individuals who worked jobs that have paid into the social security system. You must have accumulated a certain number of work credits to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. The dollar amount to obtain one work credit changes annually.
- SSI is a need-based program for individuals who have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and who have a very limited monthly income.
Another difference between the two programs is that SSI recipients will automatically qualify for Medicaid, while SSD recipients will become eligible for Medicare. In addition, the amount of SSD benefits is usually larger than for SSI benefits.
How Long Must I Wait to File for Social Security Disability Benefits?
You can file for SSD or SSI as soon as you are unable to work if you expect the condition to last at least one year. It often takes months before for your application can processed and accepted, so it’s in your best interest to start as soon as possible.
If your claim is denied, you only have 60 days from the date of the denial to request a reconsideration. During reconsideration, a different claims examiner will review your case. If you are denied again, you should request a hearing and contact a proven Colorado Springs SSD attorney immediately. The average wait time for a hearing in Colorado is over a year, so the sooner you request it, the sooner the hearing will be scheduled.
It’s important to know that there is a five-month waiting period between when you become disabled and when you will start receiving SSD benefits. If your application is accepted after this waiting period, you may be eligible for retroactive payment of benefits beginning the sixth month after you became disabled or stopped working.
What Happens if My Condition Improves While I’m Applying for Benefits?
Disability benefits are strictly for individuals who are severely disabled for at least a year. If your condition improves in under a year, you will not be eligible for SSD benefits.
However, if you have already been disabled for at least a year by the time your condition improves, you may still be eligible for a lump-sum payment for the time period you were unable to work. This is known as a closed period of benefits.
Is There a Cap on the Amount of Money I Can Receive in SSD Benefits?
The amount of money you receive from SSD is based on your average lifetime earnings before you became disabled. There is a federal cap on the amount you may be eligible for, which usually changes each year through cost-of-living adjustments.
SSI is also adjusted yearly, but it is a set amount regardless of your previous income. The amount you receive for SSD or SSI may be reduced if you are also receiving disability benefits from another source, such as workers’ compensation.
Can I Appeal if My SSD Claim is Denied?
If you’ve been denied, don’t give up hope. Many SSD denials are due to missing information or errors. You can request benefits again through the SSA’s appeal process.
Here’s how it works:
File a request for reconsideration
This involves resubmitting your paperwork, providing any missing information, and ensuring there are no errors. It’s highly recommended that you secure the help of a knowledgeable SSD lawyer at this stage to ensure you have the evidence needed to back your disability claim.
During the hearing, you will make your argument for why you qualify for SSD before an administrative law judge. These are formal proceedings. It’s in your best interest to have a lawyer representing you to ensure that all procedures are followed and your case is presented properly.
If your denial for SSD benefits is upheld, your case will be sent to an Appeals Council, who will either uphold the denial or overturn it. If your claim is still denied, you can file a civil suit in a federal district court. Your attorney can help determine if that is the best option for you.
Contact a Colorado Springs SSD Lawyer
Living with a severe and long-term disability can disrupt every aspect of your life, especially if you can no longer work. As you try to adjust to a new routine, you shouldn’t have to spend time trying to figure out how to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Let The Sawaya Law Firm help.