Are you applying for Social Security Disability benefits in Chambersburg, PA? The journey is not one you want to embark on alone.
Marzzacco Niven & Associates has decades of experience with Social Security Disability law. We can help you prepare your claim and give you the best chance to obtain benefits.
Contact an experienced Chambersburg social security disability lawyer with Marzzacco Niven & Associates today at (717) 388-2378 to help guide you through the process.
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How Our Chambersburg Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You With Your Social Security Disability Application
Applying for social security disability benefits can be complicated. The Social Security Administration noted that in 2020, most claims were initially denied. This means that it is important to be thorough and accurate in your application. Luckily, the personal injury attorneys in Chambersburg with Marzzacco Niven & Associates are here for you.
Our lawyers will help fight for your disability benefits. They can:
- Aid in the application process
- Make sure your record is complete
- Fight on your behalf at a hearing
- Go over your legal options each step of the way
- Hire expert witnesses to speak on your behalf, if necessary
Our attorneys collectively have over 120 years of experience helping clients with personal injury claims. Give us a call today in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. We offer a free consultation, so it won’t hurt your pocket to reach out.
What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI/SSDI, is a payroll tax-funded federal insurance program of the United States government. SSDI is separate from Social Security Retirement Benefits that you are eligible for once you are 65 years old. These benefits are for people who have a medically-determinable disability that restricts their ability to be employed. This is before retirement age.
Who Approves SSDI Benefits?
The approval for SSDI benefits depends on what level you are approved under.
The Social Security Administration manages SSDI. There are local Social Security offices in most towns across America. If you apply for SSDI, it will likely be through your local Social Security office. There, someone will review your application and the supporting medical evidence and decide whether you are disabled.
If you are denied at the first stage, you can appeal the decision. At the Hearing Stage, an Administrative Law Judge will conduct the hearing. They will listen to your testimony and review your file. Your attorney will question you, as will the judge. There is often an expert witness that will be questioned as well. The Administrative Law Judge will then determine if you are disabled and eligible for benefits.
Do I Qualify for SSDI, and How Much Can I Get If So?
To qualify for Social Security benefits, you must show that you are “totally and permanently” unable to work any job in the national economy. It must be a long-term disability as well. If you are hurt at work, worker’s compensation will cover your disability for a finite amount of time.
You may qualify if:
- Your disability prevents you from working for at least 12 months
- Your condition is listed on the Social Security Administration (SSA) list of qualifying conditions
- If your medical condition isn’t listed, you suffer from a condition that prevents you from performing your past work or other types of work
- You earn less than $1,350 per month on average
Your work history is relevant as well. While you worked, you were taxed and paid into the SSDI system. This becomes relevant if you become disabled before retirement. You must have enough work credits to qualify. The amount of work credits needed is based on your age.
- If you are 31 or older, you must have 20 work credits earned in the ten years before you became disabled
- If you are younger than 24, you can qualify if you have six credits earned in the three years before you became disabled
- If you are between 24 and 31, you can qualify if you can demonstrate that you’ve worked half the time between age 21 and the date you became disabled
If not, you may be able to get benefits under Supplemental Security Income, which provides monthly payments to adults and children who have low income and resources. Be sure to speak with an attorney to make sure you qualify before you apply.
The amount you receive in Social Security Disability benefits depends on how much money you earned while working. Most SSDI recipients receive between $800 and $1,800 per month. $1,800 is the cap in Pennsylvania. However, if you are receiving other sources of income, such as worker’s compensation, your SSDI benefits will be reduced.
How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability?
There are multiple stages of the Social Security Disability process.
- Initial Application
The initial application is a paper application that goes to your local Social Security Office. You will have to fill out paperwork that outlines a few things about yourself, such as:
- The highest level of education reached
- Employment history, which includes both the jobs you held and your responsibilities while there
- Disabilities/why you can no longer work
- The last day you worked
- Doctors and treatment history
- How you spend your days now
- What daily activities you are able to do, such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry
This questionnaire aims to determine if you can do any kind of job in the market, including unskilled, sedentary positions.
An attorney can help you fill this paperwork out properly. They can also collect medical records from your doctors to submit as evidence into your file.
The Social Security office will send a written decision to you in three to six months. Unfortunately, about 60% of cases are denied at the initial level. This does not mean that you are not disabled. It only means you will have to appeal and continue in the process.
- Hearing Level
If you are denied at the initial application, you have sixty days to appeal the decision. In doing so, you are requesting that an Administrative Law Judge review the denial. During this time, continue to see your doctors and get treatment. Your attorney will submit medical records and may write a brief on your behalf.
On the day of your hearing, your attorney will be present as well as the judge. There is no jury. There is a court reporter, as all hearings are recorded. Medical and/or vocational expert witnesses may be called.
You will be asked questions from the judge and your attorney. They will ask you about your employment history for the sake of the vocational witness. They will ask you about your medical conditions. They will ask what your day-to-day life looks like. The expert witnesses will then be questioned.
This is your chance to humanize your application. It gives you the ability to tell your story. A higher percentage of cases are approved at the hearing level than at the initial application level. The judge will not give a decision on the same day. Rather, the time it takes to receive a decision varies. If your record needs to stay open to gather more evidence, that can delay the decision.
If you are denied at the hearing level, you can take further appeal steps or apply again if you have stronger medical evidence. Your attorney can discuss options with you.
Contact a Chambersburg Social Security Disability Lawyer For Help
You have earned the right to disability benefits if you can no longer work due to an impairment. An experienced Chambersburg Social Security disability lawyer at Marzzacco Niven & Associates can help you fight for everything you deserve. Call (717) 923-5187 at our law offices in Harrisburg, PA, or fill out the form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.