Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are federally funded programs offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provide supplemental income to people that are physically or mentally unable to work. If you suffer from a long-term illness or injury that prevents you from working, you may be eligible to receive SSD or SSI. Additionally, if you are disabled and retired, you may still be eligible to receive SSD in addition to your retirement pension.
Thank you so much for all your assistance with my Social Security Disability Claim...
- Valerie G.
If you have questions regarding SSD or SSI eligibility, the application process, or filing for an appeal, contact the experienced Social Security Disability lawyers at the law offices of Schmidt Kramer today. Our Harrisburg social security disability lawyers can provide you with answers, help you through the application process, and work quickly to obtain the disability benefits you are entitled to receive.
There are no upfront fees if you decide to hire us and an initial consultation with a Social Security Disability lawyer at our firm is also free of charge.
SSD Benefits: Do You Qualify?
When filing an SSD claim, it’s important to verify that you have an illness or impairment that is severe enough to prevent you from working. If you are unsure of the seriousness of your condition, an evaluation from an SSA-appointed examiner will help determine the severity of your disability and subsequent SSD or SSI qualification.
However, for informational purposes, the following is a list of impairments that are often considered serious enough to warrant a need for disability benefits:
- Chronic heart disease
- Severe psoriasis
- Immune system disorders
- Mental disorders
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neurological disorders
At Schmidt Kramer, we regularly work with clients in Dauphin County to help prepare flawless SSDI applications or manage appeals after an application has been denied. For help determining if you qualify for SSD, call our law firm today at (717) 888-8888 or fill out our FREE Case Evaluation Form
Common Reasons Why Applicants Are Rejected
It is not uncommon to have your disability claim denied. In fact, the SSA reports that, on average, more than 60 percent of applicants are rejected the first time they apply. Some of the most common reasons include:
If the agent handling your case is doing a thorough job, he or she should let you know if you are missing information and give you to time to submit the additional documents before stamping your file with that nasty red “denied” stamp. However, that’s not always the way it happens. Sometimes the agent thinks he has all the information when he doesn’t. Other times, he chooses to deny the claim—fully expecting you to get the additional information and appeal the decision.
Lack of Medical Evidence
You could be denied disability benefits due to lack of sufficient medical evidence. You would need to show that your illness or impairment will last for no less than 12 months and does not allow you to work. If you have a valid claim, our legal team is ready to gather doctor’s notes and medical records to support this.
Not Following Doctor’s Orders
A denied application can happen by not following your doctor’s orders. This includes abiding by the recommended treatment plan, taking prescribed medications, and going to scheduled appointments. Not doing these things could invalidate your claim. The SSA may not think your disability is serious enough.
Income Exceeds Allowable Limits
To qualify for SSDI or SSI, you must not be able to complete any work for a minimum of one year, except for a very menial or insignificant amount. The SSA uses the term "substantial gainful activity" to determine how much work is too much. For 2020, you cannot earn more than $1,260 per month or $1,820 if you are blind.
Using Drugs or Drinking Alcohol
You may be denied disability benefits if your illness or impairment was caused by using drugs or drinking alcohol. The SSA may approve a claim if you quit and detox. If you are found to be lying on your application about having stopped using these substances, you could lose all credibility and never receive an approval.
Lack of Cooperation With the SSA
It is important to maintain consistent contact with the SSA during the claims process or risk a denial of disability benefits. This includes answering any calls, providing requested information and documentation and appearing at a scheduled medical exam.
The list of qualifying injuries for Social Security Disability in Pennsylvania is lengthy and complicated. If your initial claim was denied, one possible reason is that you did not list your particular disability under the correct category. Obtaining approval may be as simple as reapplying with the injury labeled under a different section.
The Social Security Administration Does a Poor Job Explaining Exactly What Needs to be Included in an Application
There’s an awful lot of jargon and technical terms used. The average person can easily be completely bewildered and overwhelmed by the details. You can call or visit the nearest Social Security office, and the bureaucrats seem like nice enough people, but they are too used to dealing with the jargon to explain it in ways you will understand.
The Average Applicant Doesn’t Really Understand All The Rules That Apply to Their Case
When an applicant submits their documentation, that person is mostly trusting to luck that everything necessary is somewhere in the package. In truth, many applicants are not sure what requirements need to be met to be considered disabled or to be covered under SSDI.
Our reputable Harrisburg Social Security lawyers are prepared to guide you every step of the way to ensure that your application is correctly completed and submitted to the SSA.
Free Consultation With a Lawyer. Ph: (717) 888-8888.
What To Do If Your Application is Rejected
Your case will be decided by an Administrative law Judge (ALJ). Different ALJs conduct hearings in various ways. So, you should find an attorney who knows your judge and what he or she expects from you at the hearing. The attorneys at Schmidt Kramer know the requirements of the Social Security judges and will make sure you are properly prepared and represented at your appeal hearing.
It’s not uncommon to have your SSD claim denied. In fact, the SSA reports that, on average, more than 60% of applicants are denied the first time they apply.
If your SSD claim was denied, you will receive a letter from the SSA informing you of your right to request a hearing in front of a judge. At your hearing, the judge will review letters from your physician as well as additional medical documents which support your disability claim.
At this stage, it’s imperative that you have an experienced Pennsylvania Social Security Disability appeals lawyer to represent you. The knowledgeable appeals attorneys at Schmidt Kramer have a long track record of helping people succeed in obtaining SSD benefits at the hearing stage, or at any stage during the appeals process.
Available Social Security Disability Programs
There are several SSD programs available for applicants in need of disability benefits. The type of program you may be eligible for will depend on your situation and could include one of the following:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI benefits helps those with a disabling condition that prevents them from working. You must have at least 40 work credits and have worked at least five out of the last 10 years before being disabled and not working.
The spouse of someone who is receiving SSDI benefits may also qualify for benefits on behalf of their disabled significant other. If a spouse applies for benefits, the SSA will likely ask for proof of marriage. A spouse may be eligible for a monthly benefit of up to 50 percent of their significant other’s SSD pay. However, there is a limit to the amount the SSA will pay to a spouse.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI benefit helps those who are disabled and need financial help due to a lack of work history and limited assets. Single applicants cannot have over $2,000 in assets while couple cannot have over $3,000 in assets.
Disabled Widow and Widower Benefits
These benefits are available to those over the age of 60 who may be able to receive their deceased spouse’s benefits. Those with a qualifying disability could apply after they turn 50 years old. Applicants must submit their spouse’s birth and death certificates, and their most recent tax forms, among other important items.
Disabled Adult Child Benefits
These benefits are available to those over the age of 18, but not older than 22, who have a qualifying disabling condition. The parent must be alive and eligible for disability benefits. If the parent is deceased, he or she must have contributed to Social Security for several years in order to qualify for disability benefits. Once your child starts receiving benefits, the Social Security Administration will review the case periodically to verify that he or she is still disabled. SSD child benefits continue for as long as the disability remains. There is no work requirement for the disabled child since the parent already fulfilled those requirements.
Have Questions? Call Schmidt Kramer at (717) 888-8888.
SSI Benefits for Children in Pennsylvania: Does Your Child Qualify?
Adults with disabilities are not the only ones who may be eligibility to receive disability benefits. Any child with a disabling condition is also eligible to receive SSI benefits. Some of the conditions that qualify a child for SSI include:
- Low birth weight and failure to thrive
- Special senses and speech impairments
- Musculoskeletal , respiratory, and cardiovascular system disorders
- Digestive, neurological, and genitourinary system disorders
- Skin, hematological, and endocrine disorders
- Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems
- Mental disorders
- Cancer (malignant neoplastic diseases)
- Immune system disorders
Before completing an SSI application for your child, it’s important to know that you and your child must meet certain income limits in order to be eligible for child SSI benefits. Additionally, you must also complete a Child Disability Report.
Because child SSI forms are often lengthy and complicated—and because the success of your outcome depends on the accuracy of the details on your forms, it’s best to contact an experienced SSI attorney to help you understand all of the child SSI requirements.
Fill out our FREE Case Evaluation Form.
What About Social Security Disability for Veterans?
Disabled veterans can collect SSD as well as veterans’ disability benefits at the same time. Although both are government programs, they each have different eligibility requirements.
VA benefits are awarded based on a percentage system while SSD benefits are awarded if you can prove that your disability is severe enough and connected to your service. You generally need a VA rating of 70 percent or higher in order to qualify for SSD benefits. The SSA provides an accelerated application process for military service members who became disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001.
Common Questions About SSD
Are there Social Security spousal benefits?
The spouse of someone who is receiving SSD benefits may also qualify for benefits on behalf of their disabled significant other. If a spouse applies for benefits, the SSA will likely ask for proof of marriage. A spouse may be eligible for a monthly benefit of up to 50 percent of their significant other’s SSD pay. However, there is a limit to the amount the SSA will pay to a spouse.
What is Social Security Disability substantial gainful activity?
In order to qualify for SSD or SSI, you must not be able to complete any work for a minimum of 1 year, except for a very menial or insignificant amount. The SSA uses the term "substantial gainful activity" (SGA) to determine how much work is too much. In 2020, substantial gainful activity was defined as an SSI or SSDI applicant that was not blind and earning $1,260 or more a month from working or, $2,110 a month for a blind SSDI applicant. NOTE - SSI applicants that are blind have no SGA limits.
What about Social Security Disability for veterans?
Disabled veterans can collect SSD benefits as well as veterans’ disability benefits, and they are permitted to collect both benefits at the same time.
How long do I have to wait to receive benefits?
The amount of time it takes to start receiving benefits often varies depending on how quickly medical records and other information can be gathered and submitted to the Social Security Administration. Initial claims can take approximately 3 to 5 months to receive a decision however, every claim is different. We recommend speaking to a representative at our firm to learn more about your specific application.
I have severe anxiety. Does that qualify for disability benefits?
Anxiety can be so serious for certain people that the Social Security Administration acknowledges it as a disability that could qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you apply for SSDI and cite anxiety as your disability, the SSA is going to be looking for the following requirements; you must meet at least one of these requirements and it should be medically documented so you can back up your claim:
- Generalized persistent anxiety accompanied by three out of four of the following signs or symptoms: Motor tension, autonomic hyperactivity, apprehensive expectation, or vigilance and scanning.
- A persistent irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation which results in a compelling desire to avoid it.
- Panic attacks that are severe and happen at least once a week, on average.
- Obsessions or compulsions that are a clear source of distress.
- Recollections of traumatic experiences that are intrusive and a source of distress.
In addition to meeting at least one of the above requirements, you must also be dealing with one more of the following:
- Anxiety that results in at least two of these: Restriction of activities of daily living, difficulty in maintaining proper social functioning, trouble concentrating, or repeated episodes of decompensation.
- Anxiety that results in a complete inability to function independently outside of the home.
The SSA understands that anxiety can be crippling for individuals suffering from the disability. However, they also understand that many people seem to be suffering from some form of anxiety, and because of that, they require real medical evidence that your life is being seriously affected.
To learn even more about SSD and SSI, visit our FAQ page
Contact a Harrisburg Social Security Disability Lawyer Today
The Social Security Disability application process can be complicated and time consuming for those that are not familiar with it.
At Schmidt Kramer, we know what information the Social Security Administration requires for a successful application, and our attorneys will work hard to make sure you receive approval.
Don’t be denied the benefits you deserve. Hire the Harrisburg Social Security Disability lawyers from Schmidt Kramer, and rest assured we will do what it takes to get you the money you need. It's free to talk to a lawyer about your application and there are no upfront fees if you choose to hire us.
Call Schmidt Kramer today at (717) 888-8888.