If you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you should be able to secure them without engaging in a protracted fight.
However, the Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs have grown large and cumbersome. So, many people are forced to go too long without the disability assistance they need.
About Our Oklahoma Social Security Disability Attorneys
At the Cain Law Office, our compassionate Oklahoma City Social Security Disability lawyers have extensive experience securing SSD and SSI benefits for clients who are unable to work for a living due to injury or illness.
How Can Our Lawyers Help?
Our skilled social security attorneys have helped countless individuals and their families:
- File successful applications for SSD or SSI benefits
- Appeal negative Social Security Administration rulings about your benefits
- Secure disability “backpay” after a wrongly denied claim
We are here to make things right and to take the burden off you. Contact our Oklahoma City SSD law firm today to learn how we can help with your claim.
We do not charge a fee for work with Social Security Disability claims unless and until we recover payment for you. Schedule a free consultation now.
Why You Need a Lawyer to Help with a Social Security Disability Claim
Filing a complete and accurate application for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits increases the potential for your claim being approved and for your benefit payments to begin.
However, many first-time Social Security Disability claims are unfairly denied by the bureaucracy behind the two largest federal programs providing assistance to Americans with disabilities.
If you or a loved one needs to apply for benefits, has been denied, or has been awarded benefits that are insufficient, our attorneys can help.
Services Our Disability Lawyers Provide
Our experienced legal team can greatly increase your chances of success and make the entire process less of a burden on you by:
- Gathering the documents and other information required for your SSD benefits application
- Ensuring your application is free of omissions, technical errors, and discrepancies that could lead to a denial
- Reviewing your medical records to determine the probability of acceptance
- Consulting with medical professionals who understand what Social Security Administration (SSA) examiners expect to see in SSD and SSI applications
- Working with our network of health care experts to strengthen your claim
- Providing skillful representation when appealing a denial of your claim
- Arguing for the true benefits you deserve if your claim has been undervalued
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today with a social security lawyer to learn more about how we can help you.
How Does the SSD Appeals Process Work?
In both the SSD and SSI programs, the Social Security Administration provides a four-tier process for appealing decisions:
- Reconsideration: A claims examiner not connected to the initial consideration of your application will review it a second time. When you request reconsideration, you are allowed to add to your application before it is reviewed again. Our attorneys will help you decide what issues in your initial application should be addressed and what additional evidence you should provide to support your claim.
- Hearing. If your claim is denied upon reconsideration, you can ask for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). At a hearing, you may testify and present witnesses to testify on your behalf, such as physicians who have examined or treated you. Our attorneys will guide you through this process to make sure we present a strong case at the hearing.
- Appeals Council Review. If the results of a hearing are unacceptable, you may ask the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council to review your case. The Appeals Council may decline the request, conduct the review and hand down a decision, or remand your case to the ALJ who heard it previously to examine it again. You don’t take part in an Appeals Council review.
- District Court Case. If an Appeals Council review fails to resolve your claim to your satisfaction, you can file a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration. A lawsuit would go before a federal district court judge, and you would be allowed to present evidence and testimony. The SSA would also be allowed to present evidence against your claim and to rebut your evidence and testimony.
There are specific deadlines for requesting a review at each level of appeal, which cannot be missed. Every appeal proceeds according to standard accepted rules of evidence and procedure, and the process becomes increasingly formal at each step. It is possible, but not advisable, to appeal a decision on your own up through an Appeals Council Review, but the final appeal to the federal district court requires an attorney’s assistance.
Throughout the claim application and appeals process, any reason the SSA has to deny benefits will be voiced by professionals who deal with SSD and/or SSI claims every day. Our attorneys deal with Social Security Disability benefits cases on a daily basis, as well. Our social security attorneys can put our experience and insight behind your benefits application.
What Is the Difference Between SSD and SSI Benefits?
The Social Security Administration operates two programs that provide benefits to individuals who have disabilities that prevent them from working for a living:
- Social Security Disability (SSD): An insurance program for workers who have developed an incapacitating disability
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): An entitlement for those with severe disabilities who have never worked, or for poverty-stricken elderly citizens
Are You Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Because SSD is an insurance program, you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes through employment to accrue a benefit from this program. An applicant for SSD must show payments into the Social Security system for 40 quarters – 20 of which were in the 10 years immediately prior to becoming disabled.
Requirements for SSD Benefits
Applicants for SSD benefits must also provide evidence that they:
- Cannot do the work they performed in previous jobs
- Have a disability that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months, or lead to their death
- Have a medical condition(s) that prevents them from adjusting to any other type of employment
Evidence of Disability
If you have already applied for SSD benefits or have begun to prepare an application, you know there are multiple forms to complete and multiple records to obtain and submit.
- Medical records to establish your disability
- Job records documenting employment over several years
- Workers’ compensation claim records (if your injury or illness is occupational)
- Financial assets (e.g., bank accounts, retirement accounts, other holdings)
Once you qualify by having paid into the Social Security system, the medical records you submit as part of your benefits application are key to a successful claim.
For the best results, your SSD application should identify your disability as one that is included among the physical, mental, and immune system disorders found in the Social Security Administration’s “Listing of Impairments” (also known as the “Blue Book”). In most cases, a documented diagnosis that can be found in the Blue Book ensures acceptance of a claim.
If your condition cannot be specifically diagnosed, medical evidence of your disability must convince claim examiners that your condition is equivalent to an impairment listed in the Blue Book.
You deserve benefits if you are disabled and unable to work. Whether you’re filing for the first time, had your application denied, or were awarded insufficient benefits, our Oklahoma social security disability lawyers can help you pursue the benefits you deserve.
Is Your Child Eligible for Supplemental Security Income Benefits?
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is based on financial need and usually assists individuals who have been disabled since childhood and have never worked for a living. Often a parent or another family member seeks SSI benefits on behalf of a young adult who has a disability.
Benefits through the SSI program are also available to adults over age 65 or to individuals who are blind if they meet the financial requirements.
An SSI applicant may not have “countable resources” that exceed $2,000 ($3,000 if married). Countable resources are assets that include but may not be limited to:
- Real estate
- Personal property
If an applicant is younger than 18, their parents’ assets are taken into consideration.
However, certain assets are excluded from countable resources, such as a primary home the SSI applicant owns, and other government benefits, including SNAP assistance (food stamps) or home energy assistance.
In addition to financial qualification, an SSI claim must demonstrate that the applicant is:
- Disabled by a medical condition that has kept them from working and is expected to last at least one year or result in their death
- Totally or partially blind
- 65 years old or older
Applying for SSI benefits requires completing several forms and submitting medical records that demonstrate the applicant’s disability. Parents applying for benefits for a disabled child must submit an Application for Supplemental Security Income and a Child Disability Report.
In the best-case scenario, medical records in the SSI application demonstrate that the applicant has been diagnosed with physical, mental, or immune system disorders found in the Social Security Administration’s “Listing of Impairments” (the Blue Book), inclusive of “Childhood Listings (Part B),” which describes congenital disabilities.
In most cases, a documented diagnosis that matches a Blue Book listing ensures acceptance of an SSI claim. If there is no specific diagnosis that is matched by a Blue Book entry, medical evidence of the applicant’s condition must convince claim examiners that it is equivalent to an impairment listed in the Blue Book.