In southern California, if you have been disabled, you can’t work, and you require disability benefits, you will also need some sound legal advice. Before you fill out any benefit form or application, discuss your circumstances with a Costa Mesa Social Security disability attorney.
When you seek disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), whether you are applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you will face a challenging task.
What Should You Know About Social Security Disability Benefits?
To ensure that you don’t make any mistakes that could delay your benefits or even disqualify you for benefits, have a California disability attorney guide you through the application process.
Here is what you need to know when you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits:
- Apply for your benefits promptly. There are strict deadlines, and each day that you wait is a day that you are losing benefits.
- Your first application for SSDI or SSI benefits will almost always be denied. Appeal the denial immediately with an attorney’s help.
- A note from your doctor saying that you’re disabled probably will not be sufficient to obtain SSDI or SSI benefits. You must have the advice and services of the right Costa Mesa Social Security disability lawyer.
- Take your disability seriously. Adhere to your doctor’s recommendations and do not miss your follow-up medical appointments. Missing appointments could damage your case for why you need disability benefits.
- Do not presume that a good attorney will be too costly. Most California disability lawyers represent clients on a contingent fee basis, so your attorney is paid only after you begin receiving benefits.
A Costa Mesa disability benefits attorney will guide you through each stage of the disability application process so that you may receive your SSDI or SSI benefits as swiftly as possible.
Should You Apply for SSI or SSDI? How Are They Different?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) offers benefits to working people who are disabled before retirement age and cannot now work. An applicant must have previously worked, paid FICA (Social Security) taxes, and have a condition defined by the SSA as a disability.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a different program, funded by the taxpayers, that assists low-income blind or disabled workers. In some circumstances, children may qualify for SSI benefits. SSI applicants must also have a monthly income below the minimum income threshold.
What Will You Need When You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
While SSDI and SSI are separate, both are managed by the SSA, and both programs require a long, complicated, and sometimes-baffling application process.
You will need a lawyer’s help. When you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits, you will need to attach the:
- names of physicians, hospitals, and clinics that have examined or treated you
- dates of your treatments and any hospitalizations
- names of any medications you have been prescribed
- printouts of your physical exam and medical test results
- names and contact details for your most recent employers, and the employment dates
- contact details for your health insurance or workers’ compensation carrier
- emergency contact details for a trusted friend or family member
How Will the Right Lawyer Help You Acquire Benefits?
If your application for SSDI or SSI benefits is denied by the SSA, you must file an appeal immediately with help from the right Costa Mesa Social Security disability attorney.
In fact, at every stage of the Social Security disability application process or the appeal procedure, you should be advised and represented by the right California disability benefits attorney.
The right lawyer will help you save time, answer all of your questions, and address any anxieties or concerns. Your attorney will complete or help you with your benefits application, explain your options, and fight hard on your behalf to appeal any denial of Social Security disability benefits.
How Are Disabilities Categorized?
Social Security Administration guidelines for disability place your own ability to work at one of three levels – medium, light, and sedentary – identified as your “Residual Functional Capacity” or RFC. Disability benefit recipients are classified according to these categories:
- Medium work is the capacity to walk or to stand for up to six hours and the capacity to lift twenty-five pounds frequently and to lift fifty pounds occasionally.
- Light work is the capacity to stand or walk up to six hours and the capacity to lift – occasionally – up to twenty pounds.
- Sedentary work is the capacity to sit in one position for up to six hours and the capacity to lift – occasionally – up to ten pounds.
How is a Disability Determined?
SSDI and SSI claims are processed using a formula that takes into account an applicant’s RFC level, age, and work history. The information is entered onto a “vocational grid” that determines whether a claim should be approved or denied.
If the grid recommends a claim’s denial, the claim is usually but not always denied. For instance, someone who is age 32, with a medium level RFC, will likely have his or her disability claim rejected.
However, if you meet specific requirements, your claim may be approved although the approval was not automatic on the vocational grid. The SSA also considers the impact of your psychological, cognitive, and emotional limitations on your ability to do unskilled work.
How Important is Your Doctor’s Statement?
The choice to approve or deny SSDI or SSI benefits belongs solely to the SSA. Do not assume you will be approved for SSDI or SSI benefits even if your doctor has verified that you are disabled, because the choice to approve benefits isn’t a choice that your physician makes.
Your doctor’s statement is only one of many factors that the SSA will take into account when it chooses to deny or approve your SSDI or SSI benefits claim.
What If Your Disability is Short-Term?
If you have been disabled for over a year, your claim is more apt to be approved. Short-term disabilities do not qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. If you’re temporarily disabled, you may have other options like workers’ compensation or the California State Disability Insurance program.
In any event, if you become disabled, make it a priority to speak with a southern California disability benefits lawyer before you apply for any particular benefits. Your attorney will know exactly what steps to take and exactly how to acquire the benefits you will need and deserve.