Albany Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney
1707 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12205
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.
How an Albany Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help You
Many New York workers do not go after the Social Security disability benefits they earned by working hard their entire lives. Applying for disability is often complicated and becomes frustrating when the Social Security Administration denies an application because of mistakes.
In some cases, people become confused because the names of the programs offered through Social Security are close—they get frustrated with the system and do not file an appeal if the Social Security Administration denies the application.
In other cases, a person might not apply because they think it is a handout, and their pride will not let them.
Do not forget that you paid into Social Security for those benefits—they are not handouts. Part of those pesky taxes that come out of your check goes to Social Security for your retirement or to help you pay for a disability.
An Albany Social Security disability lawyer can help you apply for the correct program and will ensure that there are no mistakes on your initial application. If you rightly qualify for Social Security disability, we can help ensure that the Administration does not violate your rights.
Help Filing an Appeal
While it is best to retain an Albany Social Security Disability Insurance lawyer before you file your initial application, many people never contact an attorney until the Social Security Administration denies their initial application. The Social Security Administration frequently denies claims.
With an experienced Social Security disability lawyer helping you with your claim—from the first step of filling out the initial application—your chances of receiving disability increase significantly.
Always choose an Albany Social Security disability lawyer—not one of the “advocates” you see advertised on television. Advocates do not have the legal background of a Social Security disability lawyer.
The Social Security disability lawyers at Finkelstein & Partners know SSD law and can be there for you every step of the way. Contact our office today to schedule a free case evaluation—the first step in the journey to getting your finances back on track.
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.
Social Security Disability Cases Finkelstein & Partners Handle
Our Albany Social Security Disability lawyers listen to our clients—and you are not just another number to us. After listening to you, reviewing your records, documenting your symptoms, and possibly speaking to expert witnesses, we develop a strategy for your case.
Whether you are filing an initial claim, need to attend an administrative law judge hearing, appear before the appeals council review, or are at the federal court appeal step, you benefit from having an attorney helping you through the process.
The key to getting the outcome we want is to research your case diligently and have the proper documentation to present the medical evidence in your application.
We work with you to help you prepare for telling your story if you have to appeal.
- Addiction, including alcoholism, prescription drugs, and dual diagnosis.
- Blood and lymph conditions, including anemia, polycythemia, sickle cell disease, hemophilia, lymphoma, and Raynaud’s.
- Cancers, including lung, breast, stomach, prostate, kidney, pancreas, ovarian, colon, testicular, melanoma, skin, bladder, throat, brain, bone, esophagus, and blood cancers.
- Diabetes and complications from diabetes, including diabetic retinopathy, diabetic neuropathy, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, brittle diabetes, morbid obesity, and thyroid disease.
- Gastrointestinal conditions, including Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatitis, diverticulitis, and colitis.
- Heart disease, including heart attacks, heart transplants, congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, enlarged heart, and valve disease.
- Inflammatory diseases and immune system issues, including complex regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, and HIV/AIDS.
- Liver and kidney diseases, including chronic liver disease, hepatitis, renal failure, and cirrhosis.
- Lung conditions, including emphysema, black lung, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer, asbestosis, sleep apnea, and sarcoidosis.
- Mental illnesses, including ADD, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
- Neurological issues, including seizures, strokes, Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), brain tumors, multiple sclerosis (MS), myasthenia gravis, and dementia.
- Orthopedic disabilities, including hip surgery, hand surgery, shoulder surgery, and knee surgery.
- Skin disorders, including burns, atopic dermatitis, scleroderma, melanoma, and psoriasis.
- Spinal cord and back disorders, including spinal stenosis, herniated discs, compression fractures, artificial disc replacements, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and spinal fusion.
- Vision and hearing issues, including tinnitus, macular degeneration, and pierced eardrums.
Albany Social Security Disability Insurance FAQs
Can I apply for SSDI benefits while I am receiving unemployment benefits?
Yes, however, being on unemployment could complicate your Social Security disability claim. When you apply for Social Security disability, you have to show that you cannot work for at least 12 months. If you are on unemployment, the Social Security Administration could look at that as if you plan to return to work. When you apply for unemployment, you have to certify that you can work and are willing to work if you find the appropriate job.
Can I earn too much money to obtain Social Security Disability benefits?
Yes. The substantial gainful activity for 2022 for non-blind individuals is $1,350 per month. The amount changes every year. You may want to talk to us, or a financial advisor, about whether you are better off working or seeking disability benefits.
What conditions will allow me to qualify for disability?
You might qualify to collect Social Security disability if you:
- Have an injury or illness or suffered trauma that disables you for longer than 12 months or will result in your death.
- Suffer a disability after your spouse dies.
- Suffer long-term or permanent injuries in a car accident, work accident, or another accident.
- Become disabled because of service in the armed forces.
- Become disabled before you reach 22 years of age.
- Qualify for Social Security disability benefits under a relative’s account.
Do I still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if I discontinue medical treatment?
Most likely, no. The Social Security Administration requires significant documentation in the form of medical records. If you discontinue treatment and your medical portfolio is too old, the Social Security Administration could deny your claim. Additionally, the SSA requires you to provide ongoing proof of no improvement for specific medical conditions.
How long does it take for the Social Security Administration to decide my case?
Once the Social Security Administration approves your application, you will receive payment the sixth full month after your disability date. For example, if your disability started when you suffered injuries at work in April, the Social Security Administration will start paying benefits in October
What kind of documents do I need for you to help me file an initial application?
The Social Security Administration requires certain documents to prove that you deserve disability benefits.
You might need to provide:
- A birth certificate.
- Some other proof of birth.
- Proof of U.S. citizenship.
- Proof of alien status if you were born in another country.
- Military discharge documents (usually a DD-214) if you had military service before 1968.
- Tax documents for the previous year—usually W-2 forms or, for the self-employed, full tax returns.
- Proof of temporary workers’ compensation benefits you received.
- Medical evidence for your disability or illness.
What is an Advance Designation?
The Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 implemented the ability to add an Advance Designation to your account. The Advance Designation allows a capable adult, including emancipated minors and beneficiaries of Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income, Social Security, and Special Veterans Benefits, to choose one or more people to serve as a representative payee in the future.
You can choose someone to receive your benefit payments now should you become incapacitated later and cannot handle your finances or make your own decisions. The representative payee helps you with managing your Social Security benefits.
The Social Security Administration will fully evaluate the person or people you choose to determine whether they are suitable when you become incapacitated. Thus, it is better to name at least one secondary person if you choose this option.
Are there special rules for wounded warriors?
Yes. Wounded warriors can apply for Social Security Disability—and should—even if they receive disability from the Veterans Administration. Active-duty status and military pay do not necessarily disqualify you for benefits. Our Social Security disability attorneys can help you with your application if you suffered injuries during active duty or suffer from conditions and receive V.A. disability benefits because of your previous service.
What if I want to work after I start receiving Social Security Disability benefits?
In some cases, you might be able to work. If you make too much and Social Security discontinues your Social Security benefits, your benefits restart. Social Security has programs and special rules for those who want to work while on disability.
I receive disability benefits from the V.A. Does that affect my Social Security disability benefits?
No. You can receive both. Each program has different qualifications. Even if the V.A. considers you 100 percent disabled, that does not mean that you will qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Both types of disability benefits have a complex application process, and you must be able to meet those requirements. For example, the V.A. requires you to prove that your injuries or illnesses are service-connected, while the Social Security Administration does not require you to prove your disability is work-related to receive its disability benefits.
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.