New York Social Security Disability Lawyer
Many people suffer diseases and injuries that are so severe that they must stop working. As a result, in addition to the physical discomfort, they also experience finance difficulties due to the loss of income. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two programs that provides monthly benefit payments to those with debilitating conditions such as diabetes mellitus and carpal tunnel syndrome and cannot work. These programs are the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income disability program (SSI). While both programs offer benefits to those who are disabled, each program has different general requirements. SSDI is available to people who have a disability and who have worked for a certain number of years prior to becoming disabled. SSI disability is available to people who have a disability and who also have low incomes. If you are suffering from a condition that is so debilitating that you cannot longer work, contact an experienced New York Social Security disability lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates who understands the Social Security claims process and will help you receive the benefits you need.Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have a recent work history that includes jobs in which you paid FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes. This is how you earn Social Security "work credits." You can earn work credits both from employment and self-employment, as long as you paid FICA taxes. The amount of time you would have had to work to be eligible for SSDI depends on your age. For example, you are under 24 years old when you become disabled, you will only need 6 credits earned in the 3-years prior to when you became disabled. On the other hand, if you are 48, you will need 26 credits. You can earn up to four credits each year. Each year the SSA changes the amount needed to earn a credit.
If you are approved to receive SSDI benefits, you will not receive the same amount of money that you received when you were working. You will receive a percentage of that amount. amount depends on your earnings history. In addition, if you are receiving other governmental benefits such as worker's compensation, the amount of SSDI that you receive may be offset. After two years of receiving SSDI, you will automatically qualify for Medicare. If you have questions about how much your SSDI would be, contact an experienced New York Social Security disability lawyer.
The SSA also provides benefits to certain family members based on your work history and FICA contributions. The following family members may qualify:
- Your spouse who is at least 62 years old
- Your unmarried child who is under 18 or under 19 if in secondary school
- Your unmarried child who is over 18 and has a disability that started prior to the age of 22
- Your spouse or former spouse who is taking care of your child full-time who is under the age of 16 or who is disabled
- Your unmarried former spouse who was married to you for at least 10 years
If you do not meet the eligibility requirements for SSDI benefits because you do not have enough work credits, you may still be eligible for SSI disability benefits. The SSI disability is a program differs from SSDI in 2 significant ways. SSI disability is administered by the Social Security Administration in conjunction with state governments. This means that there are both federal eligibility requirements and state eligibility requirements. The second major distinction is that in order to qualify for SSI disability you do not need the work history as required by SSDI. You must have a low income and few assets.
However, the federal requirements for SSI disability eligibility include:
- You must be either 65 years old or older, disabled, or blind
- You must be a U.S citizen, a permanent resident, a refugee, or a seeking political asylum
- You must have low income
- You must have few assets
If you meet these requirements, plus any state requirements you will receive monthly benefits payments. For 2014 the amount is $721 per month for an individual and $1,082 for a couple. This amount is adjusted each year based on the cost of living. In addition, New York will add an supplement to this. The amount of the supplement varies depending on factors such as your living arrangements.Requirement of Being Disabled
Even if you meet the general requirements for either SSDI or SSI disability, your application for benefits may be declined unless the SSA determines that you are disabled based on the federal definition of "disabled." The SSA goes through a 5 point analysis to make a determination of whether or not you are disabled:
- Substantial gainful activity (SGA). The SSA will want to know if you are able to work at any "substantial gainful activity." SGA is defined as earning more than a certain amount per month, which is updated annually by the Social Security Administration (SSA). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1572
- Severity of condition. Your condition must be severe that you cannot work. This means that if you have a disease or injury that is potentially debilitating but in your case not actually debilitating, you may not be approved for benefits.
- Listing of Impairments. The SSA compiled a list of medical conditions, called the Listing of Impairments, that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. Conditions on the list include types of cancer, blood disorders, orthopedic injuries, cardiac/vascular disorders, neurological disorders, and many other conditions. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1525
- Prior job. If you do not have a condition that is on the Listing of Impairments, the next step is that the SSA will determine if given your condition, you can still perform your prior job.
- Any job. If the SSA determines that you cannot perform any other job given your condition, then it will conclude that you are disabled and eligible for benefits.
The SSA’s definition of disability can be confusing. For clarification, contact an experienced New York Social Security disability lawyer.Appeals Process
Most of the applications for Social Security disability benefits are initially denied. Common reasons for claim denial include insufficient medical records, incomplete application, and lack of the requisite number of work credits. The SSA has an appeals process for claims that are denied. There are four stages of appeal for a disability claim, including: Reconsideration, Administrative Hearing, Appeals Council Review, and lawsuit in federal court.
If your claim was denied after the initial application, you have 60 days to file a "Request for Reconsideration." Your application will then be reviewed by a different reviewer in the Disability Determination Services office. If you are again denied, you have another 60 days to file a request for an Administrative Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If your claim is denied at the administrative hearing stage, you have another 60 days to request that the Appeals Council review your case. The Appeals Council can refuse to review your claim, ask you for additional information, request a reevaluation by the ALJ, or approve your claim. The final appeal step is to file a lawsuit in federal court. Consultation with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer in New York will improve the chances of your claim being approved on appeal.When Social Security Disability Benefits Will End
The are several reason that the SSA may decide to end you benefits. For example, the SSA will terminate your disability benefits if you begin to perform Substantial Gainful Activity. In other words, if you start to work to the extent that you earn a significant amount of money, your benefits will end. Recipients of SSDI are permitted to earn some money, just not a lot. For 2014, if you earn at least $1070, the SSA will end your eligibility for disability benefits. You are required to report to the SSA any income that you receive while you are receiving disability benefits, even if it is below the threshold for SGA.
The SSA will also terminate your benefits if your condition has improved to the extent that you are no longer disabled. The SSA has a procedure known as Continuing Disability Review (CDR). During the CDR process the SSA will check the status of your condition to determine if you are still disabled. Generally, CDRs will take place every 3 or 7 years. However, if you have a condition that typically improves sooner, then the SSA may schedule a CDR prior to 3 years. Similarly, if you have a condition that is not expected to improve, then the SSA may wait 7 or more years before conducting at CDR.
Sometimes events may occur that trigger the SSA to perform a CDR. For example, it is quite common for third parties to alert the SSA that a benefit recipient is not disabled. When the SSA receives such tips, it will investigate and perform a CDR. In other cases medical records may show that a condition has improved. Your benefits may also be terminated if you do not cooperate with your Continuing Disability Review , if you fail to follow the course of treatment that your doctor prescribes, or if the SSA is unable to locate you. If the SSA learns that you have commit fraud in order to receive SSDI or SSI disability benefits, it will terminate your payments. Furthermore, it may require you to repay benefits fraudulently receive and may decide to prosecute you.Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates
If your initial application for benefits is denied, you can appeal. Nearly 70% of initial applications are denied. However, the chances of you being successful with your claim increase if you are represented by an experienced Social Security disability attorney serving New York who is familiar with the social security disability claims process. Stephen Bilkis & Associates understands the type of documentation that the SSA requires to prove the existence of a disability. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve accident victims and their families in the following locations: Westchester County, Suffolk County, Staten Island, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, and Queens.