Have you experienced a disabling injury or illness that completely hinders your ability to work? Physical and/or mental disabilities can present many challenges for an individual and their family, especially when it prevents you from performing everyday activities and earning a living.
Thankfully, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two programs to provide financial assistance to disabled individuals. However, obtaining benefits through these programs can be much more difficult than most people realize due to the large amount of paperwork and confusing rules and regulations.
The Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour is committed to guiding disabled individuals through this difficult process to receive the benefits they need. Representing the community of Arcadia and cities across Southern California, Dr. Bill LaTour is an experienced Arcadia disability lawyer with a thorough understanding of the Social Security system and its requirements.
If you live in Arcadia and have become disabled, our team of legal professionals can explain everything you need to know about applying for disability benefits.
SSDI vs. SSI: Understanding the Difference
These programs share many of the same application requirements, so people often confuse the two. Before applying for either, it’s important to have a basic understanding of each program and their main differences. We’ve provided an overview below:
By working jobs that pay into the Social Security system, you earn what’s called ‘work credits.’ Social Security Disability Insurance is intended for individuals who have obtained a certain number of work credits over the years but are no longer able to continue working due to their disabling injury or illness.
Workers can earn up to four credits in one year. Typically, SSDI applicants need 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year they became disabled. However, the exact number of work credits required to receive SSDI benefits depends on your age and when you became disabled. With this in mind, benefits can be granted to younger workers with fewer credits.
To learn more about work credits and SSDI benefits, visit the Social Security Administration’s website.
Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, is designed for disabled individuals with little work history, low income, and limited assets. SSI beneficiaries must:
- Be 65 or older
- Be disabled or blind
- Have limited earnings and resources
- Be a citizen of the United States and reside within the 50 states, or meet the few strict exceptions
Applicants are considered to have “limited earnings” if their monthly income is less than the amount dictated by their state. Their total assets must also be worth less than a set amount (excluding their home and car).
A Strict Definition of Disability
As outlined above, your age, income, and work history will determine whether you are eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits. However, both programs require your condition to meet the SSA’s strict definition of disability.
A large portion of the SSA’s decision to award disability benefits is centered around whether or not you are able to work and make a living. For example, if you suffer a disabling injury but are still able to hold a job and make over a certain amount, the SSA will likely not consider you to be disabled.
To receive disability benefits through either SSDI or SSI, it must be determined that your condition falls under these criteria established by the SSA:
- You cannot do the work that you did before;
- You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.
In order to determine whether or not you meet the SSA’s definition of ‘disabled,’ a claims examiner and medical specialist will closely evaluate your medical records, work history, and other factors.
My Claim Was Denied. What’s Next?
Proving the nature of your disability and how severely it limits you can be difficult. There are many complicated requirements and forms needed for a successful claim. What’s more, the SSA is strict when evaluating disability applications.
Claims examiners review thousands of disability applications every year, some of which contain misleading or false information. In order to identify fraudulent claims, the SSA is quick to deny any applicant they believe might be trying to abuse the system.
Therefore, if your application is lacking any of the necessary documents or doesn’t contain enough medical evidence to prove your disability, you will likely be denied.
Receiving a denial can be incredibly frustrating but it doesn’t mean that you can’t ever receive benefits. Denied applicants have the option to appeal their claim at several different levels. In fact, many individuals who are initially denied are able to obtain benefits through the appeals process.
While it’s not required, consulting a knowledgeable Arcadia disability lawyer to guide you through the appeals process will give you the best chance of success. If you’ve been denied Social Security benefits, don’t be discouraged. An attorney can help prepare you for what comes next.
Have Questions About Your Disability Claim? Call Dr. Bill LaTour
When it comes to your disability benefits, you need an experienced and compassionate legal team you can count on. Our Arcadia disability lawyers will help you in every way that we can and ensure your questions don’t go unanswered.
From gathering the necessary paperwork to communicating with the SSA on your behalf, our disability lawyers can help make the stressful process of obtaining benefits easier for you and your family.
Call our office today at 800-803-5090, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We’re dedicated to fighting for disabled individuals in Arcadia and anywhere in the Greater Los Angeles area, Inland Empire, or Orange County.