Social Security Disability benefits serve as an essential lifeline for individuals facing debilitating health conditions that hinder their ability to work. To qualify for these benefits, you need to have enough work credits. If you or a loved one is facing a disability, taking proactive steps to comprehend the challenges of work credits, and acquiring legal assistance can significantly improve the chances of a successful application for Social Security Disability benefits. You should speak with a qualified Fairhope, AL disability benefits attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.
What Are Work Credits?
Work credits are the building blocks for becoming eligible for Social Security programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These credits are earned based on the income individuals generate through employment or self-employment. The number of work credits needed to qualify for disability benefits depends on an individual’s age at the onset of the disability.
Earning Work Credits:
- Calculation of Work Credits: Work credits are earned based on annual income. In 2023, one work credit gets awarded for every $1,470 in earnings, with a maximum of four credits per year.
- Quarters of Coverage: The Social Security Administration (SSA) divides the year into quarters. To earn the maximum four credits for the year, you would need to accumulate enough income within the corresponding quarters.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits in Alabama
To qualify for SSDI in Fairhope, AL, you need to meet both the work credit and disability criteria. This is how it works:
- Work Credits Requirement: The number of work credits required varies with age. Generally, younger individuals need fewer credits to qualify. For example, a person under 24 may qualify with just six credits earned in the three years prior to the disability onset.
- Disability Criteria: In addition to work credits, you would also need to meet the SSA’s definition of disability. The disability must be severe, expected to last at least 12 months, and prevent substantial gainful activity (SGA).
It can be challenging to understand the various challenges associated with work credits and eligibility criteria on your own. You should speak with an experienced Fairhope, AL SSD attorney as soon as possible to file your claim accurately and improve the likelihood of qualifying for disability benefits.
Importance of Timely Application
It is important to apply for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as a disability is recognized. The application process can be lengthy, and any delay may result in a gap between when the disability began and when benefits are awarded.
If approved, you may be entitled to retroactive benefits, also known as back pay. This covers the period from the onset of the disability to the date of approval, emphasizing the importance of a timely application. Forms can be filed online or at the Fairhope Social Security Office, located at 101 Courthouse Drive.
Applying For Supplemental Security Income If You Don’t Have Enough Work Credits
If you don’t have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, you may still be eligible for other forms of assistance through the Social Security Administration. While SSDI is based on work credits, the SSA also administers another program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is need-based.
SSI is designed to provide financial assistance to disabled individuals in Fairhope with limited income and resources. Unlike SSDI, SSI does not require a specific number of work credits. Instead, eligibility is determined based on financial need.
The medical criteria for disability are similar for both SSDI and SSI. You should have a medically determinable impairment that is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. The impairment should prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
How Can Our Attorneys Help You Get the Benefits You Deserve
These are a few ways our Fairhope attorneys can get you the benefits you need:
- Comprehensive Case Evaluation: Our attorneys will conduct a thorough review of your case, considering medical records, work history, and the specific details of your disability. This comprehensive evaluation forms the foundation of a strong and compelling disability claim.
- Navigating the Application Process: Filling out the Social Security Disability application can be difficult, and any oversight may affect the outcome. Our disability lawyers are well-versed in the application process, ensuring that all necessary information is accurately presented to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
- Evidence Collection and Analysis: Our legal team will work diligently to collect and analyze medical records, employment history, and other relevant documents, strengthening your case and establishing the severity of your disability.
- Strategic Communication with the SSA: We will handle all interactions with the SSA on your behalf, addressing inquiries promptly and providing additional information when needed.
- Preparing for Hearings and Appeals: In the event of a denial or the need for an appeal, our attorneys will meticulously prepare for hearings. This includes gathering additional evidence, consulting with medical experts, and presenting a compelling case to the Administrative Law Judge.
- Expert Testimony and Witnesses: When necessary, our legal team will engage expert witnesses who can provide testimony regarding the severity of your disability and its impact on your ability to work. Expert opinions can significantly strengthen your case during hearings.
Get a Competent and Compassionate Disability Benefits Attorney on Your Side
The experienced Fairhope, AL SSD attorneys at Walton Law LLC are committed to obtaining maximum benefits for you. This includes exploring opportunities for retroactive benefits (back pay) from the onset of your disability, ensuring you receive the financial support you require. Our resourceful disability attorneys have a demonstrated track record of success in obtaining SSD benefits for our clients. To set up your complimentary consultation, call us at 251-455-5819 or reach us online.