Social Security Disability Lawyer in Denver, CO
If you are no longer able to work because of illness or injury, you may be entitled to claim Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. If you are considering a claim, it is in your best interest to consult with one of our experienced Denver Social Security Disability lawyers. A high percentage of SSD claims are denied in the initial application phase.
Our Denver attorneys at The Sawaya Law Firm have years of experience handling thousands of Social Security Disability claims. We are well-versed in the system, and we can help you prepare your application properly and assist you through the appeals process if your application was denied.
“I recently went to the Sawaya law firm for help with pursuing SSI and I was very impressed with their professionalism and expertise. I saw the intake director for social security “Aurora Perez” and was very happy and satisfied with her knowledge and friendliness towards her clients. I definitely made the correct decision in doing business with them and would recommend them to anyone that is in need of legal assistance.”
Contact Your Denver Social Security Disability Lawyer
Call 303-466-3529 or contact us online today to discuss your concerns. Speak with an experienced:
- Denver Social Security Disability Lawyer
- Colorado Springs Social Security Disability Lawyer
- Fort Collins Social Security Disability Lawyer
- Greeley Social Security Disability Lawyer
There are no fees unless we win your case.
Overview of Social Security Disability Process
In order to qualify for SSD benefits, you must meet certain guidelines and follow a specific approval process. You must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disabled,” and present a convincing claim for benefits.
If your application is initially denied, which happens in a majority of cases, you have a limited window of time to appeal the decision, and it can take a year or more for your appeal to be heard. The first appeal is a reconsideration of the original denial. The second appeal is heard by an Administrative Law Judge. If your claim is not approved, you have the right to appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council, and subsequently in federal court.
Determining SSD Eligibility
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is designed to provide benefits for people who have worked and paid into Social Security, but have suffered impairment through injury or illness and are unable to work. To qualify for SSDI, you must be completely disabled – unable to engage in any type of work for gainful employment, regardless of your occupation before you became disabled.
Your disability must arise from a serious medical condition that is expected to continue for at least one year or until death. Whether physical or mental, the condition must have been diagnosed using acceptable medical techniques, and specific evidence must be provided to support your claim.
How is Disability Defined?
The Social Security Administration has its own unique definition of “disability,” and according to SSA, it differs from the definitions used by other programs. No benefits are payable under SSD for partial or short-term disability. For SSD purposes, you are considered disabled only if:
- You are unable to do the work that you did before you became disabled;
- SSA decides that you are unable to adjust to other work because of your medical condition; and
- Your disabling medical condition has lasted for at least one year or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
Types of Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration administers two separate programs that pay out benefits to disabled individuals: the Social Security Disability Insurance program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. While Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are paid out of the Social Security fund, SSI benefits are not. This is a needs-based program, with benefits paid out of the general tax fund, and there is no work history requirement.
If you are disabled but cannot qualify for SSDI benefits because of insufficient work history, you may still be eligible for SSI benefits. The purpose of the Supplemental Security Income program is to provide benefits to disabled children and adults who have limited means.
Under the Social Security Act, the types of disability benefits available are:
- Social Security Disability Insurance
- Social Security Disability Insurance: Disabled Widow, Widower, or Surviving Divorced Spouse
- Social Security Disability Insurance: Childhood Disability
- Supplemental Security Income
- Supplemental Security Income: Child’s Disability
How We Can Help
At The Sawaya Law Firm, we have extensive experience handling Social Security Disability claims. We can help you with your application, help ensure that you provide sufficient medical proof of disability, and represent you in the appeals process. As experienced attorneys, we can help ensure that your case is presented fully and professionally to the Administrative Law Judge.
Our Denver Social Security Disability attorneys will protect your rights and work hard to help you get the benefits you need. Contact our firm today for sound legal counsel and top-notch representation in your Social Security Disability claim.
- Social Security Administration: Disability Planner: How Much Work Do You Need?
- Social Security Administration: Disability Planner: What We Mean By Disability
What information do I need to apply for Social Security disability benefits?
Whether you apply for benefits online or visit a Social Security field office, you’ll need to gather and have available a number of documents to complete the application. They include:
- all medical records in your possession
- worker’s compensation payment information, including date of injury, claim number and settlement agreement
- names and birth dates of spouse and minor children
- dates of marriages and divorces
- information about military service
- checking account or savings account number for direct deposit of benefit checks
- employment work history information, types of jobs you had in the 15 years before you became disabled and dates you held those jobs
If you have the information available, you should expect the initial application process to take an hour.
My doctor said that I am disabled. Does that mean I should qualify for disability benefits?
No. Unfortunately, your doctor’s diagnosis alone is not sufficient to qualify for benefits. The Social Security Administration has a very rigid definition of disability. You must be unable to perform any substantial work because of your disabling injury or illness and your medical condition must be expected to last a year or longer or be a terminal condition.You may be directed to see a doctor for a medical examination arranged by the Social Security Administration. This doctor will submit an evaluation of your disability and whether you are still able to do substantial work.
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you also must have a substantial employment history and contributed to Social Security.
My disability claim was denied. What should I do?
Many people who collect disability benefits are turned down initially.If you have received a SSDI denial letter, your first step should be to contact an experienced Denver disability lawyer for a free evaluation of your disability claim.A knowledgeable SSD attorney at The Sawaya Law Firm can help you file an appeal and pursue your disability benefits to obtain the financial assistance you need.
There are four levels of the appeals process. If you have received a denial letter recently, you have 60 days from the date you received the letter to file a written request for an appeal. It can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with the appeals process. Our disability appeals attorneys will review your claim and develop a strategy to try to overturn the denial, based on many years of experience handling many claims.
What is a reconsideration?
The first level in the appeals process if your Social Security disability application is denied is to request a reconsideration of your application by Disability Determination Services. Disability Determination Services is a state agency in Colorado that reviews applications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income assistance, the two primary disability programs.
A reconsideration involves a review of your entire file and the medical evidence of your disability by someone who did not take part in the initial decision.The reviewer will also consider any new evidence or information that you have about medical tests and treatments since you previously submitted information. The average time to do a disability application reconsideration is approximately 160 days, according to the Social Security Administration.
What if I disagree with the reconsideration decision?
You may appeal the reconsideration decision by requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge. The judge’s office will send you notification of the time and place of the hearing. You will be expected to present evidence supporting your claim for benefits and follow the rules of civil procedure. It is helpful to have an experienced disability lawyer represent you at the appeals hearing. An experienced Denver SSD attorney can help you prepare for the hearing and help you understand the kind of questions the administrative law judge will likely ask. An attorney can help you gather new medical information and arrange for medical experts and other witnesses to testify on your behalf. After the hearing, the administrative law judge will make a decision based on all the evidence.
If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you may ask the Social Security Appeals Council to review the decision. The council may deny the request for a review if it believes that the judge made the correct decision. You may file a lawsuit in federal court if you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision.
What is the Social Security’s definition of substantial gainful activity?
Whether an applicant can perform substantial gainful work is one of the Social Security Administration’s criteria for determining eligibility for disability benefits. Can you do any type of work, even if you cannot do your former job? Gainful work is any work done for pay or with the intention of profit. Work is considered substantial by the Social Security Administration if it entails significant physical activity, mental activity or some combination of both physical and mental activities. If a doctor determines that you can still do substantial gainful work, then you will not be eligible for disability benefits. Both part-time work and full-time work may be considered substantial gainful activity.
Is there a waiting period for disability benefits?
If you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, there is a five-month waiting period before your disability benefits will begin. You will receive payment starting in the sixth full month after the date you are determined entitled to benefits. The amount of your Social Security Disability Insurance check will be based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security.
What is a disability compassionate allowance?
Certain very serious medical conditions by definition meet Social Security’s definition of disability. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with any of the approximately 200 most serious conditions, such as certain types of incurable cancer, you may obtain a compassionate allowance and have your disability claim application expedited. It may be processed in a few weeks, so disability payments can start. The 200 conditions that qualify for compassionate allowances include acute leukemia, inoperable bladder cancer, inoperable breast cancer, ALS/Parkinsonian Dementia Complex, esophageal cancer and liver cancer.
Can my family members qualify for disability benefits?
Yes, certain members of your family who become disabled may be entitled to disability benefits based on your work history. They include:
- your spouse if he or she is 62 or older
- your spouse at any age if he or she is taking are of child who is disabled or younger than 16
- your unmarried child who is younger than 18, or younger than 19 if still in high school
- your unmarried adult child if he or she had a qualifying disability that started before the age of 22
What is the disabled adult child benefit?
The Social Security Administration’s Disabled Adult Child (DAC) assistance program allows qualifying applicants to collect disability benefits based on their parents’ work history and contributions to the Social Security system. The federal government has strict rules for qualifying for disabled adult child benefits. For example, to be eligible for DAC assistance, the adult child must be unmarried, at least 18 years old and have a medically diagnosable disability that began before age 22. The disability may be either a physical condition or a mental impairment. In some cases, you may already be collecting disability benefits as a disabled adult based on your own work history. But you may be entitled to larger monthly disability payments if you qualify under the adult disabled child programs based on your parents’ employment record and payment of Social Security taxes. It is worth considering.
I sustained a work-related disabling injury on the job and receive workers’ compensation. Will that affect my eligibility for Social Security disability benefits?
This varies by state and type of benefit. In Colorado, your Workers’ Compensation benefit may be reduced, if you are also receiving SSDI benefits. If you receive both Workers’ Compensation and Social Security disability insurance benefits, the total amount of the benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average earning before you were disabled.Any excess amount is deducted from the disability check. Supplemental Security Income is an income based program so it could be affected or eliminated by receipt of Workers’ Compensation benefits.
What happens if I receive disability and then return to work?
You will need to notify Social Security promptly if you receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits or Supplemental Security Income assistance and your level of work activity changes. You have an obligation to report the changes. You will need to notify SSA if you resume work or your work duties or pay have changed. The SSA will give you a receipt showing that you have fulfilled your obligation.
If claims reviewers determine that you no longer qualify for disability benefits due to medical improvement or your ability to work at a level considered substantial gainful activity, your benefits will be stopped. The decision is typically effective in the month you receive a written notice.
Our Social Security Disability and Workers’ Compensation attorneys have been widely recognized throughout the community for their hard work, dedication, and successes. The Sawaya Law Firm is proud to employ such outstanding individuals that treat all of their clients as if they are the only case in the world, because to each person, their own case my be there whole world. Below you can find a brief summary on the awards and accomplishments our lawyers have received.
- Chair of the Colorado Bar Association, Disability Law Section
- 2013 Rising Star, 5280’s Super Lawyers Magazine
- 2012 Rising Star, 5280’s Super Lawyers Magazine
- 2011 Rising Star, 5280’s Super Lawyers Magazine
- Member, Workers Compensation Education Association
- Member, Professionals in Workers Compensation
- Represented hundreds of claimants in obtaining their benefits from the SSA from application to Federal District Court
- Assisted a client in obtaining $89,000 in back pay benefits
- Helped Veterans obtain service-connected benefits and pensions
- Assisted a Veteran in obtaining $104,500 in back pay benefits
- Accredited attorney with the Department of Veterans Affairs and licensed to appear in the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
- Member of the Ntl. Organization of SS Claimant’s Representatives
- Member of National Organization of Veterans’ Advocates
- Volunteer for Colorado Lawyers for Colorado Veterans
- Educates the public through presentations and exhibits