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Pennsylvania Social Security Lawyers
Helping You Get the SSD Benefits You Deserve
The Social Security Disability process can be highly complex and time-consuming. Claimants often find themselves facing various roadblocks that stand between them and their benefits. At Metzger Wickersham, we understand just how frustrating this is, which is why we are here to assist you at every stage of the process.
Wherever you are in the Social Security disability process, our firm can help. Whether you have recently become disabled and need help filing your initial application, are unsure whether you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI, or simply SSD) of Supplemental Security Income, or have already had your claim denied by The Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD), our Pennsylvania Social Security disability lawyers are here to provide personalized guidance and counsel you need.
Our firm has been serving the people of Pennsylvania since 1888, offering compassionate, client-focused service for more than 135 years. We have multiple offices located throughout the state and can travel to meet you wherever is most convenient.
To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at (888) 286-2850 or contact our firm online. We are available 24/7 to assist you.
When to Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer
Dealing with the government throughout the course of your SSD claim can be a long, frustrating process. Let us handle the work for you. Our experienced PA Social Security disability attorneys understand the system and know the type of documentation required in order to get your claim approved. We can help you with the confusing paperwork and guide you through all stages of the application and appeals process.
Working with a lawyer provides a number of important benefits. The SSD attorneys at Metzger Wickersham can provide legal support in the following ways:
- We can help gather medical records that prove your injuries and the impact those injuries have had on your life.
- If the case progresses to a hearing, we can represent you and ensure that your case is presented clearly, completely, and convincingly.
- We can ensure that all of your paperwork is filled out accurately and submitted in a timely manner.
- We can assist you with the appeals process if your claim has already been denied. Appealing a denied claim with experienced legal support is often more successful than re-applying.
In short, our firm will handle every legal detail from start to finish. We have been serving the people of Pennsylvania since 1888 and are proud to have earned a reputation for compassionate, client-focused service and aggressive, results-oriented representation.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI, or simply SSD) is a government program designed for people who have become disabled and are no longer able to work. Most people pay into the program throughout their entire working lives through payroll deductions and, therefore, reasonably trust that the government will approve them for benefits if they suffer a disabling injury or illness.
Who Is Eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance?
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must meet certain requirements. Notably, these benefits are only available to individuals who have a qualifying disability and who have earned enough “work credits,” as outlined by Social Security law.
By law, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a “disability” to be a medical condition that:
- Causes a medically determinable mental or physical impairment
- Prevents an individual from engaging in any type of substantial gainful activity
- Has lasted or can be expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death
To be considered “medically determinable,” an impairment must arise from a mental or physical abnormality that can be demonstrated through accepted medical evaluation and/or diagnostic techniques. It is not enough for a medical provider to state that you have a disability; rather, the medical evidence must prove that your condition meets the legal requirements to be considered a “medically determinable impairment.”
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What Is the Difference Between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) & Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
Often used interchangeably, SSDI and SSI actually refer to two completely different government programs. The key difference between the two programs is that SSDI eligibility is dependent on the amount contributed to the Social Security Fund over the course of an individual's employment history, while SSI has nothing to do with the Fund and is specifically reserved for low-income individuals. In other words, you can qualify for SSI benefits even if you have never worked.
How Do I Qualify for Supplemental Security Income?
If your work history is not long enough to make you eligible to receive SSDI benefits, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI provides monthly payments to people who are disabled, do not have an adequate work history, and have little or no income and resources. Our social security disability lawyers in Pennsylvania can review your situation and determine whether or not you qualify for social security benefits.
To qualify for SSI, you must be at least 65 years old, blind, or disabled. You must also possess less than $2,000 in assets and have a very low or no income.
A Pennsylvania Social Security lawyer from our firm can review your case to see if you meet the eligibility requirements for either SSDI or SSI.
We invite you to reach out to our team today to set up a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.
How to File for Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania
Apply in person by going to the social security office nearest to you. You should schedule an appointment before you arrive
- Apply by phone
- Apply online via the SSA's website
Types of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Disability Insurance Benefits (SSD or SSDI)
- Disabled Adult Child Benefits (DAC)
- Disabled Widow or Widower (DWB)
When to File an SSD Application
If you become disabled and are unable to work, or if you have never been able to work due to a disability, you should file for Social Security disability benefits right away. The sooner you file your initial application, the sooner the process can begin. It can take several months for your application to be approved and your benefits to begin, so you should not delay in filing your claim.
Additionally, the Social Security Administration denies many first-time claims, which means you may have to wait even longer to start receiving benefits. If your initial claim is denied, you have the option of filing an appeal, but this process can also be quite lengthy.
What Happens After You File an SSD Application?
Once you have completed and submitted your Social Security disability application, the field office where you filed your claim will send your application to the Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD). The BDD is responsible for evaluating your application and determining whether you are disabled or blind according to the law. This is done after the Social Security Administration determines that you meet the basic eligibility requirements to file for SSD benefits.
The BDD will typically gather evidence from your medical providers when deciding on your claim. If it is unable to gather such evidence, or if the evidence is insufficient, the BDD may schedule a “consultative examination.” Typically, the BDD will try to contact your treating physician to complete the consultative examination, but it may use an independent third party if necessary.
Once enough evidence has been gathered, the BDD will decide on your claim, either accepting it and initiating benefits or denying it. If the BDD denies your application, it will keep it on file in the event that you decide to file an appeal.
How Are Social Security Benefits Calculated?
When it comes to your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the severity of your disability is not a factor. Instead, your benefits are calculated based on your covered earnings and the amount you have paid into the Social Security Fund over your lifetime. This is also known as the number of “work credits” you have earned through your employment.
While the exact amount you can expect to receive in SSDI benefits will depend on numerous unique factors, the average payment falls is $1,781.63 per month. Note that the Social Security Administration caps SSDI benefits at a certain amount each year. For 2023, the maximum social security benefit is $3,627.
You can use the Social Security Administration’sonline benefits calculator to get a better estimate of how much you could be eligible to receive in SSDI.
What Factors Can Reduce SSDI Benefits?
It is important to note that if you wish to receive SSDI benefits, you cannot earn more than a certain amount of income. The maximum earnings you can earn while receiving SSD benefits changes; as of 2021, the limit is $3,627 per year.
Other sources of income may negatively influence the amount of SSDI benefits you receive, as well as your eligibility. These include:
- Public disability benefits
- Workers’ compensation
- Pensions for work that SSD does not cover
If you have questions about your SSD benefits, including the amount you may be entitled to receive, do not hesitate to contact our Pennsylvania SSD attorneys at Metzger Wickersham. We offer free initial consultations and can travel to meet you at your home or in the hospital if you are unable to make it into one of our multiple offices located throughout the state.
What Happens If My Social Security Claim Is Denied?
Unfortunately, it is very common for the government to deny SSD claims. Nationally, about two-thirds of all applicants are denied benefits after submitting their initial applications. Many disabled people become discouraged after they receive a disability benefits denial notice, but you should know that there is hope and help available.
It is extremely important that you act quickly if you have received a notice of claim denial. Do not hesitate to contact Metzger Wickersham to set up a free initial consultation with one of our SSD appeals attorneys in Pennsylvania. We have offices in Harrisburg, Lancaster, Pottsville, Shippensburg, Wilkes-Barre, Williamsport, and York and proudly serve clients in these communities, as well as across the state.
Common Reasons for SSD Claim Denials
Many Social Security disability claims are denied for a wide variety of reasons, from missed deadlines to application mistakes to lack of sufficient evidence. If your SSD claim has been denied, it is important to understand why. This allows you to determine whether you have grounds to file an appeal and continue seeking benefits.
Here are some common reasons the Social Security Administration gives for denying disability claims:
- There is not enough medical evidence to prove that the applicant is unable to work
- The applicant is still capable of working a different job
- The applicant failed to follow the prescribed treatment
- The applicant failed to provide the necessary documentation
- The applicant has had previous denials
If your SSD claim is denied, you have the option of submitting an appeal. This is a complex process, and we strongly recommend that you work with an experienced and capable lawyer, like those at Metzger Wickersham, to improve your chances of winning your appeal.
How to Appeal a Denied SSD Claim
If you already applied and your claim has been denied, you can appeal the decision. You must file your appeal within 60 days of the day you receive your denial notice. Once you appeal, a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will be scheduled. If you hire an attorney at Metzger Wickersham to assist with your case, we can represent you at this hearing.
The hearing is important because it is the only time in the administrative appeal process where we can argue your case in front of a judge with the authority to approve your request for benefits. Statistically, people represented by an attorney have been successful in winning their claims more often than people without attorney representation. Every case is different but rest assured that our experienced Social Security disability attorneys are dedicated to helping disabled individuals win the benefits they need and deserve.
Even when you appeal a denied SSD claim, you may have your initial appeal denied. One of the top reasons why appeals are denied is because many applicants fail to return their appeals form on time or fail to include helpful information that could help them win their case. Our attorneys can ensure that you do not make any mistakes during the appeals process and can handle the various details involved for your peace of mind.
Call an SSD Attorney at Metzger Wickersham for Help with Your Claim
You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get the maximum disability benefits you deserve. At Metzger Wickersham, we know how to recover benefits for people with many types of injuries, disabilities, and occupational illnesses. When you hire our team, we will immediately begin to analyze your case under Social Security Regulations and gather medical evidence to support your claim. When it comes to representing you and your rights, we will fight for you both in and out of the courtroom.
Metzger Wickersham has been serving the needs of clients throughout Pennsylvania for more than 135 years. We understand how frustrating and disheartening it can be to be denied the benefits you need and deserve, which is why we provide our clients with devoted, results-oriented advocacy. Our Pennsylvania social security disability lawyers are available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, providing answers to your questions and addressing any concerns you may have. Let our firm help you cut through the government's red tape.
Contact us online or call us at (888) 286-2850 today to set up your free initial consultation. We do not collect any attorney fees unless we recover benefits for you.
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