Do you need to apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or was your SSD application denied?
Let our Georgia attorneys cut through the red tape and secure your benefits.
You work hard and pay into Social Security every year with the promise and expectation that those benefits will be returned to you when you become eligible upon retirement, or in the tragic event that you suffer a debilitating and disabling injury or medical condition.
So why are most claims for disability benefits initially denied, despite the physical and mental disabilities you may be suffering?
This is where legal help comes in.
At the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson, our team boasts some of the most experienced Social Security attorneys in Georgia and nationwide — like Shelley Davidson, past president of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. NOSSCR is a national organization of over 3,000 lawyers across the country who advocate for disabled individuals under the Social Security Act.
We’ve helped clients throughout Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Tennessee receive the Social Security benefits they are entitled to for almost half a century. We’ll cut through the red tape and make sure you get the disability benefits you deserve.
So many hardworking Georgians mistakenly view Social Security as a government handout and don’t want to be seen as ‘leaching’ from the system. Understand that Social Security Disability isn’t charity. You’ve paid into the system through your taxes for your entire career. You deserve to benefit from these contributions if you suffer a debilitating disability. That’s what it’s for. My team and I can help you succeed in applying for benefits.
What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security isn’t just something that older Americans should know about. In fact, studies show that just over 1 in 4 of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67. It’s important to learn what “safety net” you can fall back on if you become disabled.
Social Security Disability (SSD) is a federal program managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and paid for by payroll taxes. The purpose of SSD is to provide income assistance to individuals who are no longer able to work due to a disabling injury or medical condition. Social Security Disability benefits are intended to help you pay for housing, food and other expenses to keep your family afloat financially.
There are 2 main types of SSD assistance for people with disabilities. Both programs are administered by the federal government (SSA), but each has different eligibility criteria and requirements. These programs are:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Under this program, benefits are paid to you and certain family members “if you are ‘insured,’ meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.” To qualify, you must show that you’ve earned an appropriate amount of “work credits.” These credits are based on your annual wages or income, and you can earn up to 4 credits each year. The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age at the time you became disabled. Most people need 40 credits (or 10 years of employment) to qualify, though younger workers who are disabled may qualify sooner.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This need-based program only pays benefits to individuals with limited resources and income who meet certain requirements. To qualify for SSI benefits, you must be a U.S. citizen, have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and a very limited income.
If you apply for either program, the SSA will gather your medical information and other details to determine whether or not you qualify for disability benefits.
What types of “disabling conditions” qualify you for SSDI and SSI benefits?
The Social Security Administration has a strict definition of “disability.” The SSA assumes that individuals and families have access to other resources that provide financial support during cases of short-term disability (such as workers’ compensation, insurance, savings, etc.). For this reason, Social Security only pays for total disability. In other words, you don’t qualify for SSD benefits if you suffer a partial or short-term disability.
All of the following statements must be true for Social Security to consider you eligible for disability benefits:
- You cannot do work that you did before;
- The SSA decides that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
- Your disability has lasted (or is expected to last) for at least 1 year or to result in death.
Common physical and mental disabilities that can make a person eligible for Social Security include:
- Injuries to the head, neck, back or spine
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Blood disorders
- Chronic pain disorder
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Lyme disease
- Repetitive stress injuries (including carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Clinical depression
- Anxiety-related disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Autism and other pervasive developmental disorders
When SSA denied your disability benefits, you can appeal
Social Security denies an estimated 53 percent of disability claims on average. Yes, you read that right: over half of all disability applications are denied, according to SSA’s own data. Other sources have found that as much as 70 percent of Social Security Disability applications are denied upon initial evaluation.
While the exact reasons for denial can vary greatly and be particular to each application, they are generally categorized as either medical denials or nonmedical (technical) denials. Here are the most common examples of each type of denial and why an applicant’s SSD benefits may be denied:
Medical denial reasons
- Lack of medical evidence/documentation
- You fail to appear at scheduled medical exams
- You fail to follow the recommended treatment or therapy prescribed by a doctor
- Your disability isn’t long-lasting or “severe” enough
- Drug or alcohol addiction is a contributing factor to your disability
Nonmedical (technical) denial reasons
- Paperwork errors
- Incorrect documentation
- Previous denials
- You earn too much income (for SSDI)
- SSA can’t find or communicate with you
- You have been convicted of a crime
- You committed fraud
If you are among the majority of Social Security Disability applicants whose application is denied, it’s time to consult an experienced disability lawyer near you who can counsel you on what steps to take now.
Social Security & disability resources
Articles & guides
- When to apply for Social Security Disability
- How does the disability process work?
- What type of disability keeps you from working?
- Challenging a denied Social Security Disability claim
Helpful links & info
- Social Security Administration (SSA) website
- National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) website
- Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia (ERSGA) website
Macon Social Security office
3530 Riverside Dr
Macon, GA 31210
Hours: Monday thru Friday, 9am-4pm
How our Georgia disability lawyers can help you
When you file a Social Security benefits claim, you state that you are eligible for benefits and are requesting that those benefits be paid to you. In some cases, the issue of eligibility is not clear cut to the Social Security Administration.
Even if you meet all of these requirements, the SSA still regularly denies applications.
So what should you do if your disability benefits are denied?
The SSA typically asks the following 5 questions to determine if you are truly “disabled” under the organization’s strict definition:
- Are you working?
- Is your condition “severe”?
- Is your condition listed by the SSA as a “disabling condition”?
- Can you do the work you did previously?
- Can you do any other type of work?
Our lawyers can guide you through the process of proving your eligibility. Depending on the circumstances, this may include:
- Applications. We can take care of the necessary paperwork and choose the right timing for your application.
- Understanding disabling conditions. The Social Security Administration has detailed definitions of physically and mentally disabling conditions. Our attorneys can explain how this applies to you.
- Claim denial. In the majority of those cases, the SSA will routinely deny your claim. When this happens, there is a series of appeals available to you, including an appeal to the federal district court. We can assist you through the entire appeals process.
For more information about pursuing the benefits you deserve, contact our firm at any time.