Social Security Disability
Denied Social Security Disability? Peter Thompson & Associates represents claimants statewide, getting them the benefits they deserve. We know how to work with your doctors, gather the right information, prepare you for your hearing, and win your appeal.
In order to qualify for SSD, you first must show that you have enough “credits,” which means, essentially, that you have worked long enough and paid FICA taxes into the system. If you do not have enough “credits,” you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is based on financial need rather than disability.
Next, you must show that you have a physical or mental impairment (or a combination of impairments) that is severe enough to prevent you from working in any regular paying job for at least 12 months. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at your condition and determine whether it prevents you from performing your past work or any other work that is available in significant numbers in the national economy, taking into account your age, your abilities, your work history and education.
The reality is that most claims are denied at first. Most claims are denied because the SSA deems your medical condition too temporary or not severe enough to prevent you from working. Many times they are wrong, but it takes an experienced attorney to know how to turn a denial into an award.
The appeal process can be overwhelming. Let us make it easier for you. You have 60 days from the date of denial to file an appeal. If you miss the deadline, you will have to reapply, which takes more time and hurts your chances.
The first stage of appeal is called Reconsideration and involves a paper review of the information provided in support of your claim. The attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates will work with your doctors to gather additional information to present at this stage. However, most appeals go on to the second stage which is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearing is informal but preparation is key.
The ALJ will use a five step analysis to determine whether you are disabled:
Step 1: Are you engaged in substantial gainful activity? Typically, if you show earnings from a job or self-employment above specific levels set out in the regulations, you are presumed to have the ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. If so, you are not disabled regardless of how severe your physical or mental impairments are.
Step 2: Do you have a medically determinable impairment or combination of impairments that are severe? An impairment is severe if it significantly limits your ability to perform basic work activities.
Step 3: Does your impairment or combination of impairments meet or medically equal “the listing.” The SSA has a list of medical impairments that it automatically deems severe. If you have an impairment that is the same as or equal to the severity of that impairment listed then you will be found disabled.
Step 4: What is your residual functional capacity? The ALJ will look at your physical and/or mental limitations to determine whether you can perform your past relevant work. Past relevant work is any job you have performed in the last 15 years.
Step 5: Given your residual functional capacity, age, education and work experience, are there any jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that you can do? There are special rules for claimants age 50 and older. If you are 50-54 and are limited to unskilled sedentary work, the ALJ will presume that you are unable to transition to other work due to your age. This can make a huge difference in a claim. A person limited to unskilled sedentary work may lose his disability case at age 48, but will win it at age 50. If you are 55 or older and are limited to unskilled light duty work, the ALJ will presume that you are unable to transition to other work due to your age. The experienced attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates can use these presumptions to help you win your case.
If you win, the SSA will determine your disability onset date and pay you retroactive to that date or, in some cases, 12 months before that date. The amount of your monthly disability benefit is based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security.
By law, attorneys who handle SSDI and SSI cases can only charge 25% of past-due benefits, not to exceed $6,000. The attorney only gets paid a fee if you win.
If you have been denied, call Peter Thompson & Associates today for a free consultation.