Harrisburg Social Security Disability Lawyer
Filing a Claim for SSDI & SSI Benefits
Social Security disability (SSD) is a federal program that provides monetary benefits to disabled individuals who are unable to work and earn a living to support themselves or their families. If you become disabled and are no longer able to work, or if you have never been able to earn a living due to a disability, you could be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
The process of filing an SSD claim can be extremely challenging, time-consuming, and frustrating. Many initial claims are denied due to application errors, missed deadlines, and other mistakes. It is a good idea to contact an experienced attorney, like those at Metzger Wickersham, to help ensure that you do not accidentally do anything that could jeopardize your benefits.
Our Harrisburg Social Security disability lawyers have extensive experience navigating the SSD system. We understand the law, as well as what it takes to navigate the process of securing benefits. Whether you need help with your initial application, or your claim has already been denied, our team is here to help you fight for the best possible outcome.
Who Is Eligible for Social Security Disability?
There are two separate programs that provide SSD benefits to disabled individuals, and the eligibility requirements for each differ significantly.
The two main Social Security disability programs are:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI benefits are available to “insured” individuals who have worked long enough and recently enough and who have a medical condition that meets the legal definition of a “disability.”
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI benefits are available to individuals who meet certain disability and/or age requirements and who have limited income and resources. This includes those who have never been able to work or pay Social Security taxes on their earnings.
To be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must:
- Be insured, meaning you have earned enough “work credits” through covered employment at which you contributed to the Social Security Fund via taxable earnings, and;
- Have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that meets the legal definition of a “disability,” and which is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death, or;
- Meet the legal definition of being blind, meaning your vision cannot be significantly corrected in the better eye, and the condition is expected to last at least 12 months.
To be eligible for SSI benefits, you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or qualified alien
- Be disabled or blind
- Have limited income, assets, and resources
If you are unsure whether you meet the eligibility requirements for SSDI or SSI benefits, reach out to our Social Security disability attorneys in Harrisburg. We are available 24/7 to discuss your concerns and answer any questions you may have regarding your benefits, your claim, or your eligibility.
Appealing a Denied SSD Claim
Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration and the Pennsylvania Bureau of Disability Determination (the state agency responsible for determining whether SSD applicants are disabled) often deny initial Social Security disability applications. If your claim has been denied, you have the option of appealing this decision, but you must act quickly. By law, you only have 60 days from the date you received the notice of claim denial to appeal your denied SSD claim.
It is extremely important that you work with a qualified SSD appeals attorney if you wish to appeal a denied claim. We recommend this course of action as opposed to reapplying for benefits, as appeals have proven to be much faster and more successfully overall. While we cannot guarantee a specific outcome, our Harrisburg SSD attorneys are prepared to provide the aggressive legal advocacy you need and deserve.
Below, we have provided a brief overview of the process of appealing a denied SSD claim in Pennsylvania:
- Step 1: Request for Reconsideration: The first step in appealing your denied SSD claim is filing a request for a reconsideration determination. This prompts the appropriate agency (the Social Security Administration or the Bureau of Disability Determination) to review your application. Only a very small percentage of claim denials are reversed at this stage.
- Step 2: The Administrative Law Judge Hearing: The next step in the process is requesting and appearing at an appeal hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The average wait time for these hearings in Pennsylvania is about 9 months. During the hearing, the ALJ will hear further evidence in support of your claim and decide on your case.
- Step 3: Appeals Council Review: Although many denied claims are reversed after the ALJ hearing, the ALJ may uphold the initial denial. If you disagree with the ALJ’s decision, you can request a review of the judge’s decision by an Appeals Review Council. You must request the Appeals Review Council within 60 days of the ALJ hearing.
- Step 4: Federal Litigation: The final step in the appeals process is taking your case to federal court. This is extremely rare and only appropriate in certain situations. If you believe the Appeals Review Council has acted in error or unlawfully, federal litigation would be the last chance to have your denied claim reversed.
As soon as you receive the initial notice of claim denial, you should contact an experienced attorney who can help you prepare your appeal. An attorney at Metzger Wickersham can immediately begin gathering evidence, preparing documents, and filing the necessary paperwork on your behalf. Our team can also help you prepare for the hearing and other related proceedings so that you can be confident moving forward.
Contact Us Today for a Complimentary Consultation
When you need help securing your rightful Social Security disability benefits, turn to the team at Metzger Wickersham. We have been proudly serving the people of Pennsylvania for more than 130 years, earning a reputation for compassionate client advocacy and aggressive legal representation that gets results.
From our Harrisburg office, we assist clients throughout Dauphin County and the entire state. We provide our legal services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not owe any upfront or out-of-pocket expenses when you hire our firm. Instead, we only collect attorney fees if/when we recover the benefits you are owed.