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What is Social Security Disability?

Social Security isn’t just an excuse to take taxes out of your paycheck. That tax money goes into a program that makes payments to retired people and people who can’t work because of a short-term, long-term or permanent disability, as well as certain family members. The longer you have worked and the more you have contributed, the more you will be paid after you must stop working.

In a perfect world, Social Security payments would provide a safety net for people who are forced to retire due to a disability or long-term illness. Unfortunately, many people who apply for benefits find they are denied for technical or just plain incorrect reasons. These people must go through a long appeals process and possibly a federal lawsuit before they can collect their own Social Security payments.

If you or someone you care about has been denied Social Security benefits, contact one of our experienced South Carolina social security disability lawyers toll free at 803-592-6231. You can also contact us online for a free consultation.

Disability Applications are Commonly Denied

Disability is the most commonly denied Social Security program; statistics show that fully 60% of disability claims are initially denied, often for procedural or technical reasons. The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) initiative was introduced in October 2008 as a way to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s standards. There are 113 qualifying conditions involving neurological, mental, and immune system disorders on the list. However, sometimes even those with a listed medical condition can be denied benefits.

Social Security Disability Eligibility in South Carolina

You are eligible for Social Security disability payments if:

  • You cannot work because of a medical condition that will last for a year or more, or a condition expected to cause death, and have worked long enough, including recent work. The work requirements depend on your age.
  • You are the spouse of somebody who is disabled, and you are over 62, or are any age if you’re caring for a child under 16 or with a disability.
  • You are the child of a disabled person and you are under 18, under 19 if you’re still in high school, or any age if you are disabled.
  • You are a divorced spouse of a disabled person and meet certain criteria.

After an initial denial of disability benefits, you have 60 days to ask the Social Security reviewers for reconsideration. About 80% of these requests are denied as well. You then have another 60 days to ask for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge who works for the Social Security Administration. This is an informal hearing, but a private attorney like the South Carolina Social Security disability attorneys at The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers may be present. In fact, hiring an attorney who understands Social Security law is a good idea, because he or she can use that extensive knowledge of the law to present convincing arguments to the judge, as well as any evidence not included in your original claim and testimony from medical experts. The Social Security Administration limits how much an attorney may legally charge you for representation in an administrative proceeding.

If your claim is denied at the administrative hearing, your next step is to ask for a review by the Social Security Appeals Council.

This is not a court case where you must appear with an SSD attorney; they will review paperwork and decide whether the administrative law judge decided correctly. This can take up to three years. After that decision, you’re free to sue the government in federal court in order to obtain your Social Security benefits. An attorney is not technically required for this, but as with all court cases, having an attorney vastly improves your chances of success.

For more information, please see the Social Security Disability booklet and the Social Security Appeals Process booklet.

On the whole, fully half of all Social Security disability claim appeals are successful — implying that half of all claimants are incorrectly denied in the first place! Because of this high rate of wrongful denials, more and more Social Security claimants are hiring attorneys to help them appeal their claims.

Understanding Social Security Disability

  • Who is eligible?
  • What injuries qualify?
  • Available Benefits?

Disability is an often misunderstood term. Many people who are disabled don’t know they are eligible for financial support, while others believe that lesser health issues entitle them to benefits. Understanding disability according to the federal government’s Social Security law and the State of South Carolina is important if you or someone you love is unable to work because of a medical condition.

The application process can be complicated, and more than half of the applicants are initially denied their benefits. If you or someone you care about has been denied Social Security benefits, contact The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers today toll free at 803-592-6231. You can also contact us online for a free consultation. We can help residents of Columbia, Orangeburg, Lexington, Aiken, Sumter, Charleston, Irmo, Myrtle Beach, Richland County, Rock Hill and across South Carolina get the benefits deserved.

Types of Disability

The Social Security Administration maintains two different programs for disabled people. Both types of disability require that certain criteria be met in order to qualify for benefits.

  • Social Security Disability (SSD) offers financial assistance to people who have previously been employed and have paid into the Social Security system, but who have become disabled to the point where working is no longer possible.
  • The second type of disability assistance is called Supplementary Security Income, or SSI, and is available for people who are disabled but have not worked enough to qualify for Social Security Disability, and who have limited income, property and other financial resources.
According to the Social Security Administration, a “disability” means that you have a physical or mental problem that prevents you from working for at least one year, or which will result in your death.

If you have worked and paid into Social Security and your disability meets the definition, benefits may be payable to you, your dependent children, and your widowed spouse after your death. Social Security Disability benefits are intended to continue for as long as your disability lasts and they can commence at any age. If you are disabled and receiving Social Security Disability and turn 65 years old, they become retirement benefits, but the amount does not change.

SSI Disability Benefits

SSI, or Supplementary Security Income, also requires that your disability meet the same criteria. However, SSI is available even if you have not paid sufficiently into the Social Security system through your employment. Instead of a specific work history, the additional requirements for eligibility are related to your income and resources. For example, if you are single and disabled, and you own no more than $2,000 worth of goods in addition to your home and its lot, you may be eligible for SSI. If you are married, you can own $3,000 worth of goods in addition to your home. Determining what counts toward those $2,000 or $3,000 limits can vary; furniture and cars may or may not count, but stocks and bonds generally do.

FAQs About Disability Benefits

How soon can I apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits?

You may apply for SSD benefits as soon as you have become ill or injured and believe you are eligible to receive them. The application process is very detailed and will require you to collect a lot of paperwork to prove that you are qualified to receive benefits. We recommend that you gather the information quickly because the Social Security Administration is overloaded and understaffed, so it can take a long time for them to inform you of their decision.

Am I eligible for benefits for partial disability or short-term disability?

No. The Social Security Administration defines “disability” as the complete inability to work, or inability to resume work, as a result of a medical condition. It also includes conditions that are expected to last for longer than 12 months or result in death. With short-term disability, it is assumed that you or your family has resources (such as workers’ compensation, insurance or savings) that can support you during your time off work.

Could I lose my benefits?

Your case will undergo periodic reviews to evaluate whether your eligibility has changed due to a medical improvement. If the Social Security Administration determines that you no longer meet the definition for having a disability, they can terminate your benefits. You are still able to appeal the decision and will continue receiving benefits for the duration of the appeals process, but if you lose, you will have to reimburse the Social Security Administration. It is worthwhile to contact an experienced Social Security Disability Claims lawyer like the ones at The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers. Having legal representation through the appeals process increases your likelihood of success.

I have several medical conditions. Together they make me disabled, but no one medical problem is disabling if examined separately. Is that going to be a problem for me in terms of getting SSD?

It all depends on your situation. The Social Security Administration is supposed to take all of your medical issues into account in determining your eligibility. It’s a good idea to talk with an attorney like the ones at The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers to help you understand the application and appeals process.

How does the Social Security Administration define ‘disability’?

Disability is defined as your inability to work. That could include if you unable to resume your previous work, cannot adapt to another job due to the severity of your medical condition and have a condition that is expected to last for at least one year or cause death. Even though you believe you meet those criteria, you will need to present detailed medical records to the Social Security Administration to prove the severity of your disability.

How can a South Carolina attorney help me obtain my Social Security benefits?

Applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) is a multi-step process that involves a heavy amount of paperwork. To get the process started, you must furnish the Social Security Administration with an application and an Adult Disability Report, which will require information like medical and employment records. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for the most people to have their SSD claims denied on the first try.

Although you are not required to hire a lawyer to apply for SSD, Social Security claimants are generally more successful with legal representation. If your claim has already been denied, a Social Security Disability Claims attorney at The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers can assist with collecting other evidence that you might not have thought to collect on your own.

How much will you charge if I hire you?

The Social Security Administration sets our fee after we file a fee agreement or fee petition with the agency. We cannot charge you more than what the Social Security Administration authorizes. Our experienced South Carolina attorneys can explain more about the fee process when we meet with you to discuss your case.

How long will it take before I know if my claim is approved?

It can take 3-5 months to process a disability claim. However, if you are denied, the reconsideration and appeals process can take as long as three years. Hiring a South Carolina Social Security Disability claims attorney at The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers can increase your chance of success significantly.

Spousal Eligibility for Disability

While Social Security Disability and SSI are the two primary programs available for disabled persons, dependents and spouses may also be eligible for benefits. For instance, when someone who has worked and is entitled to Social Security benefits dies, the spouse may qualify for survivor benefits if age 60 or older, or, if he or she is disabled, they are entitled to widow or widower benefits beginning at age 50.

Disability Eligibility for Children in S.C.

Children are also eligible for benefits – children who have a severe physical or mental ailment that is expected to last at least one year or is terminal may qualify for SSI, depending upon their family resources. If children meet the definition of disabled prior to their 22nd birthday, those benefits may extent past childhood. Children under the age of 18 who are not disabled but who are the dependents of parents who receive Social Security Disability may also receive benefits.

Disability assistance exists in different forms, but you must understand your rights and your qualifications in order to apply for and receive benefits. Many people who are eligible are denied benefits.

Appealing Your Disability Denial

If your claim for disability has been rejected, contact the Social Security attorneys at The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers as soon as possible. We can help residents of Columbia, Orangeburg, Lexington, Aiken, Sumter and throughout South Carolina get the appeals process moving quickly, preserve your right to an appeal and bring the balance of power back to your side. We’ve represented injured South Carolinians in government and court proceedings since 1959, and we understand how to get you the best possible result.

Contact An Experienced South Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyer

If you feel you were wrongly denied benefits, you should contact the South Carolina Social Security Claim Attorneys at The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers as soon as possible. We can help residents of Columbia, Orangeburg, Lexington, Aiken, Sumter and throughout South Carolina get the appeals process moving quickly, preserve your right to an appeal and bring the balance of power back to your side.

And because we’ve represented injured South Carolinians in government and court proceedings since 1959, we understand how to get you the best possible result. For a free evaluation of your Social Security case, call The Louthian Firm Accident & Injury Lawyers today toll free at 803-592-6231. You can also fill out the confidential online consultation form.

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