If you suffer from a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disability,” you may be eligible to receive monthly benefits payments called Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. They are also called SSD or SSDI benefits. These funds can play a major role in your life if your condition keeps you from working for a living.
In order to receive SSD benefits, you have to apply for them. Unfortunately, a high percentage of these claims are initially denied. If this happens to you, you should never give up hope. You need to keep fighting for the benefits you deserve – with the help of an experienced Goldsboro Social Security Disability benefits lawyer.
The attorneys of Strickland, Agner & Associates are ready to get to work on your case. We have decades of combined experience with helping disabled individuals in Goldsboro and throughout North Carolina. We can provide a free consultation. Don’t wait: Call or contact us online today.
Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
The first step for you will be to determine if you qualify for SSD benefits. You must pass two tests:
Work History Eligibility
To be eligible based on your work history, you usually need at least 40 “work credits,” including 20 credits earned in the 10 years before your disability arose. A work credit is tied to your earnings. The amount you need to earn to receive a work credit changes every year. You can earn no more than four work credits in a single year.
Even if you lack 40 work credits, you may still qualify for SSD benefits. For example, if you became disabled before you turned age 24, you would need to have earned only six work credits during the three years before your disability onset date.
An attorney from Strickland, Agner & Associates can review your work history and help you to determine if you have a sufficient number of work credits.
If not, you may be able to pursue other types of benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Those benefits are based on your income and whether you meet the medical eligibility requirements, which we discuss next.
The SSA defines a “disability” as being any impairment that:
- Has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in death, and
- Prevents you from doing work you did before or from engaging in any other work.
To get an idea of whether your medical condition meets this definition, you should consider the five-step process that will be used by North Carolina Disability Determination Services (DDS) office:
- Are You Engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity? Currently, if you earn $1,090 or more per month, it is considered to be “substantial gainful activity.” However, if your monthly income is below that limit, you can move on to the next step.
- Do You Suffer from a Severe Condition? You must suffer from a mental or physical impairment that is “medically determinable.” This means your condition can be demonstrated through medical evidence. If so, you go to the next step.
- Is Your Medical Condition Found on the SSA’s List of Impairments? If your condition matches or is equal in severity to a condition listed in the SSA’s “Blue Book,” then you are deemed to be disabled. If not, you go to the next step.
- Can You Return to Your Previous Work? At this stage, DDS will conduct a “residual functional capacity” (RFC) assessment. If your condition prevents you from doing the work you did before, your case goes to the last step.
- Can You Do Any Other Type of Work? DDS will look at your age, education, training, work history and transferrable job skills. You will be deemed to be disabled if, based on this assessment, it is clear that you can work at no other job.
How Do You Apply for SSD Benefits?
You can submit your application for SSD benefits in one of three ways:
- Online at the SSA website
- In person at your local SSA field office (use this locator tool to find the address of the SSA’s Goldsboro office or another office nearer to you)
- By phone by calling (800) 772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
A lawyer from our firm can help you to prepare this application, including working with your doctor to make sure the DDS has all of the information it needs to decide your claim.
We can also determine whether you may be eligible for an expedited decision on your application. For instance, you may suffer from a condition that falls within the SSA’s Compassionate Allowances (CAL) program.
What Can You Do If Your SSD Benefits Claim Is Denied?
Within a few months after you submit your SSD benefits application, you will receive a letter from the SSA.
- If your application has been approved – The letter will state the amount you will receive in monthly benefits payments and when those payments will begin.
- If your claim is denied – The letter will provide a brief explanation of why it was denied and explain your right to appeal the decision.
If you want to appeal the SSA’s decision, you will have 60 days from the date of the letter in which to file a “Request for Reconsideration.” At this stage, you will be asking for your application to be reviewed by a different team of DDS examiners.
If your claim is denied again, then you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge. The hearing would take place at the nearest Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) such as the one in Raleigh or Greenville. It is highly important that you seek help from an attorney with your hearing, which is conducted much like a trial.
Even if your claim is denied at the hearing level, you can still seek review of your case by the SSA’s Appeals Council in Virginia and even file a lawsuit in the nearest federal district court.
How Can a Goldsboro SSD Benefits Attorney Help You?
As you can see, the SSD benefits application and appeals process can be complicated. This is why it is important to work with a lawyer who can carefully navigate your claim through this process and make sure your rights are protected at every stage.
At Strickland, Agner & Associates, our attorneys can provide many valuable services to you as you pursue the disability benefits you deserve, including:
- Helping you to submit a complete and accurate application
- Making sure your appeal is timely filed
- Representing you at a SSD benefits hearing and in any further appeals
- Reviewing all other benefits options that may be available to you.
For example, our law firm can explore whether you may be eligible to receive both workers’ compensation benefits and SSD benefits (if your disability arose from a workplace accident). In some cases, your family members may be eligible for SSD benefits as well.
Don’t wait to take action. Reach us today to get started with a free consultation.
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