Social Security Disability is a subsistence benefit paid to people who cannot earn a living wage because of a disability. It is a federally-based insurance funded by your income taxes. This benefit is intended to supplement the incomes of physically and/or mentally disabled individuals for the duration of their disability, whether it be long or short term.
At Earwood, Moore, Carpenter & Guy, our attorneys can help you acquire Social Security Disability benefits if you are disabled due to an injury, a medical condition, or a physical or mental incapacity. We have decades of experience representing disabled individuals before the Social Security Administration.
The average SSDI recipient in 2015 received $1,165, with most receiving between $700 and $1,700 a month. The formula for benefits is based on your earnings over a lifetime and the taxes you have paid in the form of FICA withholdings. Factors that influence payments outside of this include literacy (or lack thereof), higher education, blindness, and age of the applicant.
The process is complex and discouraging. The average timeframe for benefit acquisition is 36 months from the date of initial filing, but because the process is so arduous, many applicants stop the process at their first denial. It is commonplace that most claims for Social Security Disability benefits are denied when filing for the first time. In fact, the denial rate is approximately 90% for all first time applicants. Do not be discouraged by this. The process is geared toward and reliant upon your frustration and discouragement to continue the process.
Starting Your Claim
The first step in the process is to file a claim. This can be done online (https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib) or by calling to set up an appointment with a Social Security Office Interviewer:
- Social Security Administration: 800-772-1213
- Asheville: 866-572-8361
- Hendersonville: 866-964-5053
- Franklin: 866-562-0738
Your application will be assigned to a claims examiner. The examiner will acquire and review your medical records and may schedule an appointment with a physician retained by the Social Security Administration to examine you. The examiner will then “test” your record against a rigorous set of guidelines. The examiner has no independent discretion whatsoever. The examiner will most likely deny your claim in writing. This denial of your application can take up to 6 months before the appellate process can begin. It is at your first denial that you should consider retaining an attorney to help you obtain your disability benefit.
Your first “appeal” is for reconsideration. Your claim is assigned to a new claims examiner who process your claim based on identical circumstances to your first claim review. You can expect the same outcome. The newly assigned claims examiner also has no independent discretion. The reconsideration process takes up to 6 months to complete, and you will probably be closing in on a year in the claims process.
You are permitted a final appeal from the reconsideration denial to an administrative hearing judge. The administrative hearing judge has discretion to consider the evidence of your disability from a holistic perspective, instead of the individual guideline criteria followed by the claims examiners. Essentially, this is a trial of your benefit request. At this juncture, most applicants will receive disability benefits. Still, this process of will take an additional 12-18 months to complete. All timeframes are wholly regulated by the Social Security Administration.
The attorney you hire will serve as the appellate counsel for SSDI applicants. We’re an experienced team of lawyers who will explain the appeals process to you in detail and assist and support you through the next steps. We offer free consultation. There is no upfront cost or fee, as our compensation is contingent on your successful receipt of benefits and is federally mandated and regulated. You can get the help you deserve, no matter your current financial situation. Call us to help you today.