Social Security Disability Lawyers
If you have a disability that has deprived you of the ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a daunting process that is best handled by an experienced attorney. The Jackson Social Security disability lawyers at NST Law can ensure your application meets SSA standards.
Statistics compiled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) reveal that 67 percent of Social Security disability claims filed from 2010 through 2019 were denied, and only 21 percent of claims were approved on the first attempt.
If you have a disability that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to receive benefits. The Jackson Social Security disability attorneys at NST Law can help you avoid denial and obtain the benefits you need.
Table of Contents
What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a monthly benefit you can receive if you are insured by the SSA. You are insured if you have worked long enough and recently enough. Funding for disability payments comes from individual Social Security taxes. These benefits may also be extended to your spouse and dependent children.
Are disability benefits taxable?
A portion of your disability benefits may be taxable if you have income other than your Social Security benefits. If your income, when combined with your disability income, totals between $25,000 and $34,000 if you are single or between $32,000 and $44,000 if you are married, 50 percent of your benefits are taxable.
If your combined income exceeds these levels, 85 percent of your benefits can be taxed.
Do I qualify for disability benefits?
The SSA criteria for disability approval are strict and include the following:
- You must meet the definition of disability.
- You must have earned enough work credits.
- You cannot currently be engaged in a substantial gainful activity (SGA).
The compassionate legal team at NST Law can explain your rights to you. Call our Jackson office at 731-427-5550 to schedule a free consultation.
The Definition of Disability
The SSA considers you disabled if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You are completely disabled.
- Your disability prevents you from working.
- Your condition is expected to last longer than a year or result in death.
Social Security does not offer a disability program for partial disability.
Social Security and Work Credits
Social Security work credits accumulate each year that you work. In any given year, you can earn up to four credits. The number of credits you earn is based on your total earnings.
The number of credits required is variable based on the age at which disability begins. The work credits also must have been earned recently. If you are 31, you usually need at least 20 credits for the 10-year period immediately preceding your disability.
You will also need to pass the required duration test, which ranges from 1.5 years for applicants under the age of 28 to 9.5 years for workers who have reached age 60.
Substantial Gainful Activity
If you are currently engaged in work that earns a monthly income that averages more than the preset amount established by the Social Security Administration, this is considered SGA. This amount is adjusted annually. For 2022, the amount is $1350 for most people and $2,260 if you are blind.
If you earn these amounts, it will disqualify you from receiving benefits because it demonstrates that your disability does not prevent you from working.
How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
In light of the high denial rate, we advise contacting an experienced Social Security disability lawyer in Jackson to assist you with your application. This is the fastest and easiest way to apply for benefits, and it will significantly increase your odds of approval.
What information will I need to apply for disability benefits?
The SSA’s Checklist for Online Adult Disability Application lists the information you will need when applying for disability benefits.
To complete the application, you will need:
- Date and country of birth
- Names and birth dates of spouse and dependent children
- Military service dates, duty, and branch of service
- Employment records for the current and prior two years
- List of medical conditions
- List of doctors with contact information
- The types of jobs you have had during the past 15 years
- The date your disability began impacting your ability to work
- Information about your education and training
How long will it take to be approved?
The Social Security Administration reports that the average processing time for a disability application is three to five months. If your claim is denied, there are several levels of appeals of which our office is familiar. However, if your disability is severe, you may qualify for expedited processing, which can result in a faster decision.
- Quick Disability Determinations (QDD)
- The QDD process screens applications quickly using computer software to identify applications with a high likelihood of approval.
- Compassionate Allowances (CAL)
- The CAL process compares your conditions with an extensive list of severely disabling conditions the administration maintains. Conditions on this list include certain cancers, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, various leukemias, several rare childhood disorders and cancers, and ALS.
How can I check the status of my application?
Our law firm will keep you informed throughout the process. If you wish to check the status on your own, you can do so by establishing an account on the SSA’s website.
You can also visit the Jackson Social Security office located on Cheyenne Drive near Kroger on University Parkway and the Northside Post Office. The address is 415 Cheyenne Dr., Jackson, TN 38305.
How much money will I receive?
In 2022, the maximum monthly benefit, as reported by the SSA, is $3,345. The average disability benefit in 2022 is $1,358 monthly, and $2,383 monthly for disabled workers with a spouse and one or more children.
The SSA will calculate your monthly payment based on your lifetime earnings on record. Your work credits are used for qualifying purposes only and do not impact your benefits.
How long does it take to start receiving benefits?
The Social Security Administration explains, “We pay SSDI benefits in the month following the month for which they are due.”
This means that, after your Social Security Disability Insurance has been approved and you have waited the requisite five months for your first payment, you will receive your first payment in the “sixth full month after the date we find that your disability began.”
What if I am disabled but lack the minimum work credits?
If you meet the medical requirements for SSDI but did not earn the required work credits, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Qualification for this program is based on financial need rather than work credits. To qualify for this program, you must meet the following criteria:
- Blind or disabled
- Limited income
- Assets valued at or below $2,000 for a single person or $3,000 for a couple
SSI provides a monthly base amount, which is reduced by up to the total of other household income. The base amount is adjusted annually according to inflation and is called a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).
In 2022, the maximum amount is $841 for a single person, $1,261 for a couple (divided between the spouses), and $421 for an essential person. This amount is reduced by countable income.
Will I receive back pay?
For SSDI, benefits are retroactive based on the date you became disabled, up to 12 months prior to your application. This means you will receive back pay beginning the first day you became eligible, even if you had not yet applied for benefits.
SSI is not retroactive, but you can receive back pay dating back to the date of your application.
Why was my Social Security Disability application denied?
SSA’s 2019 statistics show that 41 percent of applications are denied because of technical details and 22.9 percent because of medical details.
Technical details that can result in denial include:
- Incomplete application
- Incorrectly completed application
- Missing documentation
- Incorrect documentation
Medical reasons may include:
- Applicant’s engagement in SGA
- Insufficient evidence to support complete disability
- Incorrect information provided by the doctor
Denials are common because the application process is complex and exacting. The slightest error can result in a denial, even if your claim is legitimate. This is why the assistance of an attorney who is familiar with the process is so important.
The Appeals Process
Although disheartening, a denial is not final. You have the right to appeal within 60 days of the denial. You can appeal through the following means for medical or non-medical reasons:
- Hearing by an administrative law judge
- Review by the Appeals Council
- Federal court review
Waiting for a hearing can take substantial time. When your case is heard, it is important to have an attorney on your side who understands the requirements and knows what it takes to get your case approved.
Our Jackson Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help With Your Claim
Whether you are filing a disability claim for the first time or appealing a claim that has been denied, the attorneys at NST Law will leverage their 32+ years of helping people claim disability benefits to ensure that you receive the money you’re entitled to.
Our standard of excellence and compassionate care result in a personalized approach for every client. If you need to file a Social Security disability claim in Jackson, Tennessee, call the champs at NST Law today.