The Social Security Disability (SSD) program provides cash benefits for workers who can no longer work because of a physical or mental disability. Applicants must show that their disability has lasted or is expected to last at least one year, or that it is a terminal condition.
An SSD claim also requires lots of personal and medical information that shows the applicant’s qualification for benefits. A mistake or omission can cause a deserving individual to be denied benefits the person truly needs and deserves.
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Must-Haves for a Successful SSD Claim
The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers an applicant for SSD benefits to be “disabled” if the claimant suffers from a “medically determinable” physical or mental impairment that prevents the person from engaging in any “substantial gainful activity,” and the impairment:
- Has lasted or will last for a period of at least 12 continuous months, or
- Is expected to result in the applicant’s death.
A successful SSD benefits claim should include:
- A complete application. You will be required to supply the necessary information in your application for benefits. This includes personal data, job and earnings history, military service history, financial information and medical history related to your disability. For each category of information, you’ll need accurate names, addresses and dates, sometimes going back several years.
- A history of employment. SSD insurance benefits are paid through Social Security taxes on workers’ earnings. To obtain benefits, even if you qualify as disabled, you must satisfy a “duration of work” test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security to have accrued benefits, as well as a “recent work test.”
- A “Blue Book” impairment The Social Security Administration’s “Listing of Impairments” (called the “Blue Book”) describes impairments to each major body system that are considered severe enough to prevent an adult from doing any substantial gainful activity. A medical condition that matches a Blue Book impairment may result in automatic approval of your claim, if other qualifications are met. If there is not a direct match, the team evaluating your claim will determine whether your condition is “equal” in severity to a listed condition. The SSA will ask your doctors for your medical records.
- Proof of disability. Once your impairment has been identified, the analysts considering your claim must determine that it makes you unable to perform activities such as lifting, carrying, walking, sitting, thinking and remembering. Your medical evidence must also show that your impairments make you unable to perform the duties of your current (or recent) job and make you unable to adjust or be trained for other work. If it does not, or is unclear, you may be asked to undergo a new medical exam by a doctor the SSA chooses.
If it is determined that you are disabled, you’ll be notified of the benefits you are to receive and when they will start.
If your claim is denied, you’ll be notified of that decision and why your claim was rejected. You will have 60 days to appeal a denied claim in writing. A second team of evaluators will review your application in a reconsideration. You will be allowed to present additional information to them.
After a reconsideration there are several other levels of appeal, each of which is more formal, including a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), an Appeals Council and, if necessary, a federal court hearing. You have the right to be represented by an attorney at these hearings, which follow standard courtroom rules of evidence and procedure.
Contact a New York & New Jersey SSD Claims Attorney
If you qualify for SSD benefits because of a disabling disease or injury, the lawyers of the Ginarte Law Firm can help you get benefits you deserve. Our experienced attorneys have the dedication necessary to secure the positive outcome you are entitled to as soon as possible.
- Social Security Disability Benefits, Social Security Administration
- Disability Evaluation Under Social Security (Blue Book), Social Security Administration