SSD Lawyers in Chatom, AL
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a steady and reliable source of income for those who are disabled or terminally ill and are unable to work and sustain themselves as a result. At the same time, qualifying for SSDI payments can be a challenge due to the stringent eligibility criteria and the complexity of the application and appeals process.
At Walton Law LLC, we deeply care about people who are unable to support themselves due to a disability or illness. We have been advising and representing the residents of Southern Alabama in Social Security Disability matters for more than 15 years.
If you are planning to apply for SSDI benefits or if your application has been denied, we can represent you, guide you through the application or appeals process, and take all possible steps to help you get the benefits you need. To find out how we can help you, call us today and schedule a free consultation with a committed Chatom, AL SSD lawyer.
Criteria You Need to Meet to Qualify for SSDI Benefits
In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you need to meet a number of criteria, which are listed below.
Worked in Jobs Covered by Social Security
In order to receive SSDI benefits, you must have worked in a job (or multiple jobs) covered by Social Security. With Social Security being a universal system, a vast majority of jobs across industries are covered under the program. Only a few categories of jobs are not covered by Social Security. You can find the complete list of jobs that are not covered by Social Security here.
Have Earned the Required Number of Work Credits
A work credit is a unit that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine whether you have worked and paid into the system for a sufficiently long period of time to qualify for SSDI benefits. You can earn one work credit for every three months of work, which means you can earn a maximum of 4 work credits in a year.
The amount of earnings needed for a work credit can change from one year to another. In 2023, the amount is set at $1,640. The number of work credits you need to earn to be able to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on the age at which your disability began.
For example, if you developed a disability between the ages of 31 and 42, you need 20 work credits, which translates into five years of work. If your disability began at the age of 44, you need 22 credits. If it began at the age of 50, you need 28 credits. You can find more details about the work credit requirements for SSDI benefits here.
It should be noted that having more than the required number of work credits does not increase the amount of benefits you can receive.
To be able to receive SSDI benefits, you must have a medically determinable impairment that meets the SSA’s definition of disability. You can find the list of physical and mental impairments that meet the SSA’s definition of disability here.
If your impairment is not on the list, the SSA will determine whether it can be considered a qualifying disability based on the criteria listed below.
- Your impairment has lasted or is expected to last for a period of one year or longer or is expected to result in your death.
- Your impairment has affected you to such an extent that you are incapable of doing the work you did previously or adjusting to any other kind of work.
- Your impairment prevents you from engaging in any kind of work that can be described as substantial gainful activity.
How Does the SSDI Claim Appeals Process Work?
If your SSDI claim has been denied, you are certainly not alone. Data shows that on average, 67% of SSDI claims are denied by the SSA due to various reasons. The seasoned Chatom, AL SSD lawyers at Walton Law LLC can help you appeal the decision. The SSDI appeals process is complex and involves four steps.
It is the very first step in the appeals process. You are required to submit your request for reconsideration within 60 days of receiving the denial notice.
During reconsideration, your application will be reviewed by a different examiner from Disability Determination Services (DDS) who was not involved in the initial decision. At this stage, you can choose to provide new information (if you have any) to support your claim. The examiner will review the evidence you provide and determine whether your claim can be accepted.
Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
If your claim is denied at the reconsideration stage, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You must make this request within 60 days of receiving the reconsideration denial.
The ALJ is an independent adjudicator who will review your case, including all the evidence and information presented during the hearing. At the hearing, your attorney will have the opportunity to present your case, answer questions, and provide additional information to support your disability claim.
If the ALJ denies your claim, you can request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. You must make this request within 60 days of receiving the ALJ’s decision. The Appeals Council will review your case to ensure the ALJ followed proper procedures and made a correct decision based on the evidence. If the Appeals Council believes there was an error, it might send your case back to the ALJ for further review or make a decision itself.
If the Appeals Council denies your request, the ALJ’s decision stands.
Federal Court Review
If your claim is denied at the Appeals Council stage, you can file a lawsuit in federal court within 60 days of receiving the Appeals Council’s decision. A federal judge will review your case to determine if the SSA followed the law in denying your claim.
It is important to note that the federal court’s decision can take a considerable amount of time, and the process can be lengthy and expensive.
Our Experienced Chatom, AL SSD Attorneys are Ready to Help You
Navigating the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application or appeals process can be a daunting task. The Chatom, AL SSD attorneys at Walton Law LLC are ready to assist you and guide you in your pursuit of SSDI benefits.
Our legal team has a deep understanding of SSDI laws, rules, and regulations and we are well aware of the reasons why most SSDI claims are rejected at the initial stage. We can build a strong claim, take care of all the paperwork involved, and do everything we possibly can to help you qualify for SSDI benefits.
Call our firm today at 251-455-5819 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.