Social Security Disability Lawyer in Pennsylvania
Filing an SSD Claim & Appealing Denied Benefits
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. 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. If your initial SSD application was denied, do not give up. Get in touch with a Pennsylvania Social Security disability lawyer at Metzger Wickersham today to schedule a free initial consultation. We would be happy discuss the SSD process, your case, and how we may be able to help you receive the benefits you are entitled to under the SSD program.
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.
To be eligible for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program, you must:
- Meet the Social Security Administration's definition of “disabled”
- Have physical or mental health impairments (or a combination of both) severe enough to keep you from working any regular, paying job for at least 12 months or have impairments that are expected to result in death
- Have a work history long enough to have paid into the Social Security Disability system
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 adequate work history, and have little or no income and resources.
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.
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 SSDI Benefits Are 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 between $800 and $1,800 per month. Note that the Social Security Administration caps SSDI benefits at a certain amount each year. As of 2021, the monthly maximum benefit amount is $1,930 and the annual maximum benefit amount is $7,770.
You can use the Social Security Administration’s online 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 $1,276 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.
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.
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.
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 130 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 team is 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.
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 prescribed treatment
- The applicant failed to provide 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.
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.
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 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.