The SSD Process
The Social Security disability process is notorious for being complex, dense, and highly selective. In addition, many applicants find the lengthy process nothing short of overwhelming. As the success of your application depends heavily on following numerous procedures and meeting many requirements, proper preparation for the SSD process is essential to your obtaining Social Security disability benefits. With 85 years of combined legal experience and a well-versed knowledge of Social Security procedures and disability claims, Shook & Stone can help you successfully compile you claim and greatly reduce your risk of being denied SSD benefits.
Applying for SSD
The application process can be a frustrating and lengthy experience. Disability claims typically take longer than other Social Security claims, taking anywhere from three to five months to reach a final determination. This process can be greatly shortened if you provide the SSA with sufficient and complete documentation when you apply. Important information for the SSD application includes:
- Social Security number and proof of age
- Information of health care providers you visited for your disability
- Information about the medication you take
- Medical records from the health care providers that treated you
- Laboratory and test results for your condition
- Work information, including where, how long and type of work
- Most recent w-2 for or federal tax return
As work credit history and disability requirements are the most important factors used to determine your eligibility, there should be ample medical and financial information. Throughout the years, our attorneys have collected extensive insight into the most important elements of SSD applications. We use this insight to focus on ensuring that your information is strong, thorough and presented in a way that will improve your chances of being approved.
Qualifying for SSD
The initial step of the Social Security disability process will be the qualifying stage. The Social Security Administration will carefully and closely evaluate your case in order to determine your eligibility. This is often the most selective part of the process, as there are numerous and strict requirements to be met. In fact, the SSA reports that denial rates during this stage in the process are higher than 80%. The two main factors considered for your qualification include: (1) your work credit history and (2) your disability.
Work Credit History
Your work credit history plays a crucial role in your eligibility for benefits. As Social Security is a tax fund program, you are required to have paid taxes and social security through your work wages for a sufficient amount of time. This means you need a consistent work and tax payment history, as well as documentation. In short, you must have worked long enough, and recently enough, to qualify for disability benefits.
Work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employed income. You can earn up to four credits per year. The number of work credits that you will need in order to qualify depends on your age and when you became disabled. According to the SSA, you need approximately 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the last ten years, ending with the year you became disabled. There are exceptions to this requirement, including younger injured workers who may qualify with fewer credits. In any case, it is best to have qualified legal counsel review your work credit history in order to determine how your eligibility will be affected and what actions can be taken to improve your chances of being approved.
If you have a sufficient amount of work credits, the SSA will then focus on determining if your medical condition or physical impairment is severe enough to be considered a disability. Social Security benefits only pay for total disability, meaning you must meet the following requirements:
- You cannot do the work you did before your disability
- The SSA determines you cannot adjust to other work; and
- Your disability lasts for at least one year
Meeting the disability requirement is essential to obtaining benefits. Disability Determination Services (DDS), an organization within the Social Security Administration, is responsible for conducting the disability evaluations. The DDS will closely review you medical documentation or they will conduct independent medical evaluations to determine the extent of your condition. If you disability is severe and prevents you from working, you most likely will be eligible for benefits.
Strengthen Your Claim with Our Help
The success of your claim depends on a thorough and intelligently compiled application. At Shook & Stone, we use our experience, extensive Social Security knowledge and dedication to work closely with clients and develop plans to strengthen their application. Our firm can also provide you with the resources and support needed to ensure that you meet the strict requirements and have ample documentation of your work history and medical condition, which can greatly expedite the application process. With more than $100 million in compensation recovered for clients since 1997, Shook & Stone can help you swiftly obtain the benefits you need. Contact us today or fill out a free case evaluation to get started on your successful claim.