Albany Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney
You’ve worked hard, done the right things to further your career, and now you are faced with something completely out of your control: Due to a life-threatening illness, an accident where you suffered debilitating injuries or a workplace accident, you cannot return to work.
Maybe you have already been told you cannot work for some time, or possibly ever again. Currently, you are being forced to use your savings to make ends meet, but you know that cannot last forever. You learn from your employer your disability benefits are going to expire in six months, and they have recommended you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) coverage. Like the countless Albany residents who face this challenge every day, you’re probably uncertain where to even start.
If you have suffered a life-altering injury or illness, and you are going to be out of work for one year or more, you are entitled to file a claim for SSDI benefits. While you can do this without hiring an attorney, it is strongly recommended you contact one of the experienced Albany Social Security Disability Insurance attorneys at Finkelstein & Partners for help.
Hiring Our Disability Attorneys Eases the Application Process
The process for filing for disability is complicated. Most people believe the Social Security payments which are drawn from their paycheck are there only for retirement purposes. This is not the case. The funds are also available if you meet certain criteria. However, the rigorous application process requires you to file several documents with the application. Failure to properly submit your application can mean an immediate denial of benefits.
Finkelstein & Partners is committed to helping our Albany neighbors who need these benefits. Whether you were injured in a workplace accident, a roadway accident, or you are suffering from a qualifying condition that makes you eligible for SSDI, we are here to help. We have experience navigating the complicated application process, and if you have already applied and been denied, we can help you through the appeals process.
How Does SSDI Determine Eligibility?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a process in place to determine whether you qualify as medically disabled.
The evaluation process includes:
- Step one: employment – SSDI will consider total disability if the victim cannot work, despite any medical treatment, for one year or longer.
- Step two: medical – The second step in the evaluation process is demonstrating your illness or disability can be medically diagnosed. For example, a doctor must issue a statement that you had a condition that resulted in a disability.
- Step three: approved impairment – This step involves reviewing a person’s medical history for certain conditions which are deemed automatically approved by SSA for eligibility. This step is also the first step in which a claim may be approved.
- Step four: capability for re-employment – This involves a review of your work history over the prior 15 years. This is to determine whether you have the skills to return to one of these categories of employment rather than collecting SSDI.
- Step five: economics of employment – Before SSDI recommends you return to work they would first determine if there were availability of work in your field. This is done on a comparison basis: Are there enough jobs in your field in your region (or other regions) that would make it viable for you to return to the workforce.
As each step of the evaluation process is complete, your claim may be denied. The basis for denial, however, may be insufficient information in your original application to warrant moving to the second step of the evaluation. This is why it is always a good idea to work with a skilled Social Security Disability lawyer in Albany to file your initial claim.
What Conditions Would Make Me Eligible for SSDI?
There are several categories of issues that would result in automatic approval of SSDI benefits provided the documentation is submitted correctly with your first application. It is worth noting, several categories may require multiple doctor’s opinions and may also require certain diagnostic tests.
Some of the conditions that could result in an automatic approval include:
- Legal blindness – This does not always mean you cannot see anything. The definition of legal blindness according to the New York Office of Children and Family Services states “A person is considered “legally blind” when his/her visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best correction, or his/her field of vision is 20 degrees or less in the better eye.”
- Cancer – The SSA lists cancers that may result in SSDI benefits. Cancers that are untreatable, or where the patient is undergoing treatment and their weak immune system prohibits them from returning to work, are typically included.
- Respiratory disorders – Depending on the severity, there are several categories of respiratory issues which may result in your being eligible for SSI payments. Those who suffer from severe asthma, COPD, or who have had lung transplants may qualify.
- Gastrointestinal diseases – Victims who have had a liver transplant, suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or have certain other conditions may also be eligible to collect SSDI payments.
Fourteen categories of illness could result in approval of your SSI benefits. However, because of the nature of the application process, working with a lawyer who understands Social Security Disability eligibility is a good option.
Social Security Disability Eligibility and Applications
For those who meet the medical and employment criteria to apply for SSDI, there is also a secondary concern. You also must meet requirements regarding your work history. To qualify for SSDI, one must have contributed to the Social Security system for a specific number of quarters and had a minimum number of credits earned. This amount changes on an annual basis, so it is always a good idea to understand what criteria SSA will be using when you are determining your eligibility.
In addition, you need certain documents to file with these forms, including:
- Birth certificate
- Tax returns or W2 forms
- Pay stubs
- Form DD214 for military service before 1968
- Medical records in your possession including recent test results, reports from your doctor, and other pertinent medical records
- Proof of award of worker’s compensation, or similar benefits
As you can see, this process can be very confusing, and mistakes are easy to make. The review process can last from one to three months. During the review process, SSDI may ask you to see another doctor, may ask for additional information , or may send a letter denying your disability claim.
Appealing a Social Security Disability Denial
While the application process for SSDI payments is confusing and requires extensive documentation, many people are shocked to learn the complex process under which an appeal operates. When you do receive a denial, it is necessary to contact a Social Security disability lawyer immediately to protect yourself.
You have a limited amount of time—60 days—to file an appeal. Once that window has expired, you would have to begin the application process from the beginning.
Here is how the appeal process works:
- Step one: request redetermination – This phase of the appeals process is done for both medical denials and non-medical denials. The process may be completed online, but there must be justification for the appeal. The redetermination is done by a party who was not involved in your initial application.
- Step two: request a hearing – Should the redetermination request also result in a denial, you have the option of requesting a hearing. The hearing is overseen by an administrative law judge and may be conducted online. When you request such a hearing, you have the right to have your Social Security disability attorney with you during the hearing.
- Step three: request for review by appeals council – This is a two-phase process during which the Council may simply agree with the judge and deny your request for review, or they may review your case and return it to the administrative law judge for further review.
- Step four: federal court review – An application for review would have to be submitted for a federal court review. Remember, each of these steps allows you 60 days to file the appropriate documentation.
As you can see, the appeals process is as confusing as the initial application process. This is why so many Albany workers depend on the services of legal teams like Finkelstein & Partners to assist them with the process of filing for SSDI benefits.
Social Security Disability and Working While Disabled
Oftentimes, those who are eligible for SSDI believe they cannot work while collecting benefits. This is a falsehood which unfortunately many believe.
The fact is, some incentives can help you return to work safely while collecting SSDI—and you may still collect these benefits while working:
- Temporary full benefits – For up to nine months following your return to work, your benefits may remain intact. This is a trial to see how you will cope with working.
- Extended eligibility – For up to 36 months following your return to work, you may earn up to $1,310 monthly without losing benefits. This amount is higher if your disability is blindness.
- Automatic reinstatement – For up to 60 months following the end of your benefits, if you can work again, you are entitled to automatic reinstatement of your SSDI benefits without submitting a new application.
- Medical insurance benefits – Medicare Part A coverage will remain in place for not only the first nine months you are working, but for an additional 39 months. In addition, once the time lapses, you can still use Part A coverage by paying the premium.
As you can see, there are incentives to help you decide if returning to work is right for your situation. The accelerated reinstatement helps if you can’t continue working.
When to Consider a Disability Attorney
You may believe you do not need an attorney to file an SSD claim. However, making any type of mistake on your application can result in immediate denial, or may slow down the application process leading to significant delays in your getting benefits. In general, you should hire our personal injury lawyers if you are out of work for five months or more, and you do not expect to return to work within a year or more.
Getting You the Social Security Benefits You Deserve in Albany
Whether you suffered an injury or illness at work which resulted in your inability to work, you have developed a qualifying medical condition the prevents you from working, or you were in a car accident and your recovery is going to take more than a year, Social Security disability can help you and your family stay financially healthy.
The application process for Social Security disability should start as soon as possible, so you are approved before worker’s compensation, or short- or long-term disability payments from your employer expire. This can help you avoid any sudden losses in the income your family needs to meet your financial obligations.
At Finkelstein & Partners, we are committed to getting our Albany coworkers the benefits they are entitled to under the Social Security disability system. You have paid into this system since you began working, and it is there to serve as a safety net when you need it most. Contact Finkelstein & Partners today or call our Albany attorneys at (518) 452-2813 for a free case evaluation. Find out what difference working with an experienced Social Security disability attorney in Albany can make for you and your family.
1707 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12205