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SSDI Attorney in Pennsylvania
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim
Although it is often confused with Social Security disability (SSD) in general, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is one of two SSD programs offered by the Social Security Administration. Generally speaking, SSDI is available to individuals who have earned enough “work credits” (by working at jobs covered by Social Security) and who have a disability or are blind, as defined by Social Security law.
Ostensibly, the purpose of SSDI is to provide people who are unable to work with necessary benefits to manage everyday expenses. Individuals who qualify for SSDI have earned these benefits over years of working and paying into the Social Security Fund. However, although you may be rightfully entitled to receive benefits, you may find that your initial SSDI application is denied. If this is the case, you should immediately seek the help of a skilled Social Security disability lawyer.
At Metzger Wickersham, our Pennsylvania SSDI attorneys are here to guide you every step of the way. We understand that the SSD process can be extremely confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming, which is why we are ready to handle every aspect of your claim. From your initial application to your denied claim appeal, our team can work to ensure your rights are protected and fight to recover the benefits you are owed.
Who Is Eligible for SSDI?
First, to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, you must be “insured.” This means you have worked both recently enough and long enough to qualify, and you have paid sufficient Social Security taxes throughout your employment. Next, you must be blind (as defined by law) and/or have a medical condition that the Social Security Administration considers a “disability.”
By law, the Social Security Administration 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.”
There are many conditions which would qualify as a disability. There are also conditions which can present as a disability in some circumstances but not all. This is why simply reading a list of common disabilities is not going to tell you with certainty if you would qualify.
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits for 2021
The Social Security Administration calculates your SSDI benefits based on an overall average of your lifetime earnings. Your benefits are not calculated based on the severity of your disability or your total income/household income.
Several calculations are used to determine your SSDI benefits. These include your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) and your primary insurance amounts (PIA). These calculations are used to determine the minimum benefits you will receive, as well as adjust those benefits for past, current, and future changes in the overall standard of living.
As of 2021, the Social Security Administration approved a 1.3% increase in SSD benefits to accommodate for the cost of living. Additionally, it is important to note that, as of 2021, you cannot make $1,310 per month or more to be eligible for SSD benefits. If you are blind, you can earn up to $2,190 per month and retain eligibility. If you are already receiving SSDI benefits and try to go back to work, you may be allowed to earn more than these limits during your “trial work period” month.
For more information on SSDI benefits, contact Metzger Wickersham. Our Pennsylvania SSDI attorneys can help you understand your eligibility for SSDI, as well as which benefits you may be entitled to receive. We are happy to answer any questions you may have during a free and confidential consultation.
How to Apply for SSDI in Pennsylvania
You can apply for SSDI benefits online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security office. You will need to complete and submit an Application for Social Security Benefits, as well as a Disability Report. The Disability Report provides detailed information about your medical condition, which is used to determine whether you meet the legal requirements for being “disabled.”
Once you have filed your initial application, including all relevant information and documents, the Social Security Administration will determine whether you meet the basic eligibility requirements to receive SSDI benefits. If approved, your application will then be sent to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD). The BDD is the state agency that works with the Social Security Administration to determine whether SSD applicants are blind or disabled under the law.
How to Appeal a Denial
There is a chance your application may get denied. You must appeal within 60 days of the rejection to have a chance for a hearing. The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review will schedule you for the hearing to present any new evidence or testimony or statements from witnesses. Having a social security disability lawyer to guide you through this process will be helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Appeal a Denied SSDI Claim?
Unfortunately, many first-time SSDI claims are denied. This might happen because an application has errors or is missing critical information. Your claim could also be denied if the Social Security Administration decides that you do not meet the basic eligibility requirements for benefits or if the BDD decides that you are not “disabled” according to the legal definition.
In any case, you have the right to request a reconsideration determination. You must submit your request within 60 days of receiving the initial notice of claim denial if you wish to appeal a denied SSDI application or claim. If you fail to send your request within 60 days, you will likely lose your right to appeal and will need to reapply for benefits. In most cases, appealing a denied claim is more successful and faster than sending a new application.
If your Social Security Disability Insurance claim has been denied, we strongly urge you to contact our firm for help with your appeal. Our Pennsylvania SSDI appeals attorneys can gather applicable evidence and documents supporting your claim, assist you in filing necessary paperwork to request a reconsideration determination, and represent you at your hearing before an administrative law judge. We can also guide you through the next steps, if necessary, including requesting a review of the administrative law judge’s decision.
Why Hire an SSDI Attorney?
The process of applying for and receiving Social Security disability benefits is a complex, time-consuming, and highly challenging one. It is absolutely critical that you thoroughly prepare your application to improve your chances of having your claim accepted. By working with an experienced attorney, like those at Metzger Wickersham, you put yourself in the best possible position to begin receiving benefits as soon as possible.
If, however, your claim is denied, your attorney will be able to help you take the next steps in appealing this decision. The appeals process is in itself a very complicated one, but an attorney not only understands the various steps involved but can also ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.
When you choose our team at Metzger Wickersham, we will fight for you and the rightful benefits you deserve. We work tirelessly when it comes to advocating for our clients and are here to guide you every step of the way. Our firm has been serving the people of Pennsylvania for more than 135 years, and we are proud of our hard-earned reputation for compassionate client service, personalized representation, and aggressive advocacy throughout the legal process.
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