Many eligible Social Security Disability recipients have their applications denied by the Social Security Administration. If your SSD benefits application has been denied - or perhaps if you are starting the process and are not sure where to begin, it can help to contact a Social Security Disability lawyer for help.
At Schmidt Kramer, our lawyers have many years of experience handling Social Security Disability applications and have a comprehensive knowledge the application process.
Jessica Mitchell represented your practice and my case. She indeed is a boon to your business and I would not hesitate in the least having her represent me again!
- Client of Schmidt Kramer
After reviewing your claim, we can explain the options that are available to you in simple-to-undestand terms and work to have your application accepted.
Attorney Jessica Mitchell is a Jonestown, PA native and has helped numerous applicants obtain the benefits that they are eligible to receive. Our team of Lancaster Social Security Disability attorneys charge no upfront fees if we take on your case and it's free to talk to a lawyer to help determine if you are eligible to file an application.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form today.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) officials who review your application for benefits will ask five questions to help them determine if you qualify for disability compensation:
1. Are You Currently Working?
People often assume they will not qualify for disability benefits if they are currently working. However, you can still obtain benefits if you are working, as long as your monthly income is below the limit set by the SSA. The monthly income limit for 2018 is $1,180.
Once the SSA determines you are not making more than the income limit, your application will move on to the next step of the process. If you are not working at all, your application will immediately move to the next step – the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office will review your medical condition.
2. Do You Have a Severe Medical Condition?
Social Security Disability is reserved for severe medical conditions that will affect you for at least 12 months or can result in your death. Your condition must place significant limitations on your ability to perform work-related activities, including things like:
- Using your arms for lifting things
If your medical condition does not interfere with work-related activities, the SSA will determine you are not disabled.
If your disability interferes with your ability to complete work-related activities, your application will move to the next step.
3. Is Your Condition in the Blue Book Listings?
The SSA has a comprehensive list of medical conditions in its Blue Book that automatically qualify for benefits. In other words, if your condition meets the criteria in one of the listings, your claim is likely to be approved.
If your condition is not on the list, we will determine if your condition is as severe as something else that is on the list. If it is, your claim is likely to be approved.
If you do not have an impairment on the list, or a similar condition, your claim will move to the next step.
4. Are You Able to Work in the Job You Used To?
The SSA evaluators will determine whether your condition prevents you from doing your last job or other jobs you held in the past. If the evaluators determine you could still do a job you have done in the past, you will not qualify for benefits.
If the evaluators agree with you that you cannot do the jobs you used to do, your application will move on to the fifth and final step.
5. Can You Do Another Type of Job?
Maybe you have a disability that makes you physically or mentally incapable of doing your old job or other jobs you did before your most recent one. However, it may be possible for you to do a different job in another field. Maybe you have skills that could be applied in another line of work. Evaluators will consider various factors to determine if you have transferable skills, including age, education and past experience.
The evaluators will also do an assessment of your physical and/or mental limitations to determine your residual functional capacity, or the level of exertion you are capable of when doing a job. There are various exertional levels, including:
- Sedentary work – Individuals capable of sedentary work cannot lift more than 10 pounds at a time and can only occasionally lift things like files or small tools. These types of jobs mostly involve sitting with occasional standing and walking.
- Light work – Light work means being able to lift up to 20 pounds on occasion, and frequently lifting as much as 10 pounds. These types of jobs require frequent walking and standing and pushing or pulling with your arms or legs.
- Medium work – Individuals capable of medium work can lift up to 50 pounds at a time and frequently carry as much as 25 pounds. Individuals capable of medium work can also do light work and sedentary work.
The residual functional capacity assessment also takes other limitations into account, such as the inability to stoop down or remember instructions.
If your functional capacity is for sedentary work and you did that in the past 15 years, the claims examiner may decide you are able to return to your old line of work. The exception is if you have non-exertional restrictions that make it difficult for you to return to sedentary work. Examples of these types of restrictions include memory problems caused by a psychiatric or neurological disorder.
If you cannot perform another type of work, your claim will likely be approved. Otherwise, it will be denied and you must file an appeal to have a chance of obtaining benefits.
The Lancaster Social Security Disability lawyers at Schmidt Kramer can help you at every stage of the appeal process. We are well-versed in the process of appealing a denied claim and what it takes to overturn a denied claim. We will help you gather detailed evidence to prove you have a qualifying condition and you satisfy the other requirements.
Call an attorney right now at (717) 888-8888.
Disabilities in the Blue Book
There are numerous conditions that automatically qualify for benefits because they are in the SSA's listing of impairments. Some of these conditions include:
- Heart failure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Heart disease
- Myasthenia gravis
- Traumatic brain injury
- Huntington's disease
- Friedrich's ataxia
- Diabetes mellitus
- Lung transplant
- Lung failure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Cerebral palsy
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Marfan syndrome
If you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions and your symptoms fit the criteria in the Blue Book, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability.
Contact one of our Social Security Disability lawyers in Lancaster for a free, no obligation legal consultation. We can help you compile the evidence to try to prove your condition meets the criteria in the listing of impairments.
Schedule a free consultation today by completing a Free Case Evaluation form.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions about Social Security Disability benefits. The answer depends on your average lifetime earnings before you became disabled.
Once you are approved for benefits, the SSA looks at your covered income, otherwise known as the amount of income on which you have paid Social Security taxes. The SSA applies a complex formula to determine your amount of monthly benefits.
The maximum amount of money you can earn in 2018 is $2,788 per month. Most people receive somewhere between $700 and $1,700 per month. However, benefits will be reduced if you are receiving workers' compensation or temporary state disability benefits. Fortunately, veterans' benefits will not affect your amount of Social Security Disability benefits.
The amount of benefits you receive is not based on the severity of your disability or your current monthly income, like workers' compensation benefits.
It is tough to determine how much benefits you are entitled from Social Security. This is why it can be to your advantage to work with an experienced Lancaster Social Security Disability attorney. The lawyers at Schmidt Kramer have in-depth knowledge of how benefit amounts are determined. We will use this knowledge to pursue all of the compensation you deserve.
Contact one of our attorneys today by calling (717) 888-8888.
Appealing if Your Claim is Denied
You may not know that many Social Security Disability claims are denied. Unfortunately, a denial causes some people to give up. They may think that they do not meet the SSA's requirements – either they have not earned enough work credits or simply are not disabled enough.
However, you may still be able to obtain benefits. Disability Determination Services applies a great deal of scrutiny to each claim because a large number of false or inappropriate claims are often submitted. Unfortunately, this often leads to legitimate claims being denied.
Our Social Security Disability attorneys in Lancaster can help you with every stage of the appeal process. We know what it takes to get a claim approved, including the types of evidence that need to be collected, the types of detail to provide and deadlines for each stage of the process.
When you receive a denial letter, you can file a written request for reconsideration within 60 days. Our attorneys can help ensure your request for reconsideration review is submitted before the 60-day deadline. Requests submitted after that will be rejected, which means you will have to start at the beginning and file another claim.
Your reconsideration requests will be reviewed by a claims examiner and a medical consultant. They will review your application to ensure it was considered in a fair and impartial manner. You can also submit new evidence that was not included in your initial application.
Our Lancaster Social Security Disability lawyers will help you compile additional information to help improve your chances of being awarded benefits.
Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge
If the denial is not overturned in the reconsideration review, you will receive a denial letter in the mail. You have 60 days from receiving the letter to request a hearing with an administrative law judge. You have a greater chance of success at this hearing than the reconsideration review.
The judge will question you and any witnesses you bring, such as medical experts. If you are represented by a Lancaster Social Security Disability lawyer, he or she can question witnesses as well.
Another benefit to working with an attorney is that he or she can prepare you to be questioned by the judge. We will help ensure you get across the important points about your case. We can also explain how to be clear and concise and answer the specific questions the judge asks. It is very important to provide direct answers to the judge's questions. Failing to do so could hurt your chances of recovering compensation.
Appeals Council Review
If the judge does not overturn the denial of your claim, you can request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The council will review your case to decide whether it will hold a hearing.
Unfortunately, there are only three reasons the council will decide to review your case:
- The judge abused his or her discretion or made an error
- The judge made a decision not supported by the evidence
- There was a procedural error, such as the judge failing to notify you that a witness would be appearing at the hearing
If the appeals council does not find one of these issues, your claim will be dismissed.
The last option for appealing a denied claim is to file a lawsuit in a U.S. district court. A judge will review your case and can reverse the SSA's denial if he or she discovers a legal or factual error.
A Lancaster Social Security Disability attorney from our firm can file the lawsuit on your behalf. We have many years of experience drafting complaints and know how to build a strong case to present to the judge. We will prepare you for the courtroom as we know this can be a nerve-racking experience.
Schedule a free, no obligation legal consultation today by calling (717) 888-8888.
Contact a Lancaster Social Security Disability Lawyer Today
The process for obtaining disability benefits is time-consuming, complicated and stressful. This is why many people get discouraged, particularly if their initial application gets denied.
This is one of the reasons you should consider discussing your situation with a qualified Lancaster Social Security disability lawyer in a free, no obligation legal consultation.
We can explain how we will help you throughout the process, including gathering evidence, preparing for hearings, handling all legal filings and anything else that applies to your claim. Dealing with this process alone is a lot to ask when you are dealing with a disability or chronic medical condition.
We take cases on contingency, which means you do not pay us unless you receive disability benefits.