Social Security Disability Lawyers
If you have a medical condition that has deprived you of the ability to work, you may qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. The application process to get these benefits is complex, and you could lose out on your well-deserved benefits without the competent representation of an experienced Knoxville Social Security disability attorney.
According to data from the Social Security Administration (SSA), during the decade from 2010 through 2019, fewer than 23 percent of applications were approved upon initial application each year, and an even smaller number were approved at the appeals levels. The highest numbers of denials are not medical but technical.
This demonstrates that qualified applicants are being denied benefits because of technical details about their applications. The champions for the injured at NST Law can ensure your Social Security disability application meets technical requirements and that your documentation will survive the Social Security Administration’s scrutiny.
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How Our Knoxville Social Security Disability Attorneys Can Help
If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for the first time, our experienced Social Security lawyers for disability will work hard to help you obtain approval on your first attempt.
Our Social Security disability lawyers in Tennessee have a deep understanding of the Social Security Administration’s eligibility requirements, and we will start the process by ensuring you meet these standards.
The Social Security Administration requires detailed medical documentation and will need the name and contact information of each of your medical doctors. We will work with you to ensure every doctor is included, the contact information is correct, and the records you provide are accurate and complete.
When the SSA contacts your doctors, we will ensure the doctors are prepared to complete the documentation correctly, completely, and promptly.
We will help you gather all required non-medical documentation and complete your work history. After we have received all the required information from you, we will complete your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application and submit it to the SSA on your behalf.
We will keep you informed throughout the entire process.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability
Qualification for SSDI is based on two primary factors: work credits and an inability to work due to a qualifying disability.
How is disability determined?
The Social Security Administration determines whether an applicant has a qualifying disability using five questions.
Five Questions to Determine Disability
- Are you working?
- Is your condition “severe”?
- Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
- Can you do the work you did previously?
- Can you do any other type of work?
The SSA maintains a list of medical conditions and the qualifying criteria on its website.
What does the Social Security Administration consider a disability?
The SSA’s definition of disability is a medical condition that prevents you from performing any type of work. The disability must be a total disability that is expected to last at least a year or result in death. Benefits are not awarded for short-term or partial disability.
If you are still working in a position that allows you to earn more than the maximum amount set by the SSA, the SSA will determine that you do not have a disability that prevents you from working, and your application will be denied.
When you work and pay Social Security taxes, the SSA awards you with up to four work credits per year based on your earnings. To qualify for SSDI, you must pass the recent work test and the duration test.
Recent Work Test
If you are under the age of 24, you need 6 credits during the 3-year period prior to the onset of your disability. If your age is 24 to 31, you will need credits that reflect having worked half the time between the age of 21 and the beginning of your disability.
At age 31 or older, you will need to have earned at least 20 credits during the 10 years immediately prior to your disability. The number of work credits is only used to determine eligibility. Having more work credits does not increase your benefits.
Duration of Work Test
The length of time you must have worked increases with age. For example, the SSA requires claimants who have reached the following age at the onset of the disability to have worked for the following number of years:
- At least one-and-a-half years of work if disability begins at age 28
- At least six years of work if disability begins at age 46
- At least nine-and-a-half years of work if disability begins at age 60.
The Social Security Disability Claims Process
The three steps to apply for SSDI include gathering your documentation, completing and submitting your application, and providing additional information to the SSA as requested.
Gather Your Information
You will need to gather the following information:
- Employment records
- A list of medical conditions
- The names and contact information of all of your medical providers
- The date your disability began
- Information about your education, training, and job history
Your doctors will be required to provide information directly to the SSA upon request and should be made aware that this information will be requested.
Complete the Application
After you have gathered the required information, you can complete and submit your application. It is important to enlist the assistance of a Social Security lawyer for disability before you submit your application to ensure your documentation and application comply with the SSA’s requirements.
Provide Additional Information Requested by Social Security
After you submit your application, the Social Security Administration will investigate your information. This may include contacting your doctors and reaching out to you for additional information. You may also be required to submit to a physical examination as part of your application.
Claims take an average of 3 to 5 months for the SSA to process unless your claim qualifies for expedited processing.
Understanding the Difference Between SSDI and SSI
If you have a qualifying disability but do not meet the SSA’s work requirements, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The key difference between SSDI and SSI is that SSI benefits are based on financial need and are awarded only if your assets and income fall below the SSA’s thresholds.
If you do not qualify for SSDI, an experienced Tennessee SSI disability lawyer at NST Law can help you apply for SSI.
What to do if Your Social Security Claim is Denied
A denial can be disheartening, but a denial is not final. If you did not have an attorney to represent you during your initial application process, it is not too late to hire one now, and this is highly recommended.
Common Reasons for Denial
Your application may be denied for the following reasons:
- Inaccuracies or incomplete application
- Insufficient work credits
- An impairment that is not expected to last 12 months or more
- An impairment that SSA does not regard as severe
- A determination that you can perform your usual work or another type of work
A Knoxville Social Security disability lawyer can review your initial application, identify the reasons for the denial, and create a strong case for an approval when your appeal is heard.
The Appeals Process
The Social Security disability appeals process can be lengthy if you must wait for a hearing. Upon an initial denial, you may request a medical or non-medical reconsideration, which involves a review of your application by someone at the Social Security Administration who did not participate in the initial decision.
If your application is denied at this stage, you may proceed to the next step, which is a hearing by an administrative law judge. If this fails, you may request a review by the Appeals Council. If you are still denied, you may file a civil lawsuit in Federal court.
The Social Security Administration will notify you of the date of your hearing approximately 75 days before the scheduled date. The administrative law judge hearing and Appeals Council review can be scheduled online rather than in-person at your option.
Time Limit to Appeal
The Social Security Administration’s deadline to file an appeal is 60 days after receipt of the notice of denial.
Call a Knoxville Social Security Disability Lawyer Today
Whether you are filing an application for disability benefits for the first time or you need to file an appeal, the compassionate and skilled attorneys at NST Law can help you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.
In addition to guiding you through the claims process with the Social Security Administration, we have experience with wrongful denial of benefits and can represent you in a hearing with an administrative law judge. These types of victories are among the many verdicts and settlements we have won for our clients.
With over 32 years of experience helping disabled individuals successfully file their claims, our Social Security disability attorneys can know what it takes to get claims approved. Contact our Knoxville Social Security attorneys today.
Social Security FAQs
Below are answers to the questions we most frequently received.
Why are so many Social Security claims denied initially?
The most common reasons include an incorrectly completed application, an application that was incomplete or lacking information, or insufficient documentation. These types of technical denials can be prevented by retaining an experienced Knoxville Social Security disability lawyer.
Do I need an attorney to file for Social Security benefits?
The high rate of technical denials indicates that using a competent attorney is a significant factor in preventing a denial. Many applicants put off hiring an attorney until after their initial application is denied. The result is that they must go through the appeals process and wait significantly longer to receive their benefits.
Are my children eligible for benefits?
Yes, if you are eligible for benefits, your dependent children who are under the age of 18 or still attending high school may qualify for benefits. Your children may also qualify if they are older than 18 but disabled and if the disability began prior to the age of 22, according to the Social Security Administration.
How do lawyers get paid for Social Security cases?
At NST Law, we charge nothing upfront, and you pay only if we win.
Will I receive medical coverage if my claim is approved?
Most SSDI recipients qualify for Medicare after a 24-month qualifying period, which begins the month they become entitled to SSDI.