Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Lawyer

Thousands of Oklahomans are dependent upon disability checks to make ends meet after a disabling injury or medical condition prevents them from working. If you are unable to work to support yourself and your family, you may be eligible for disability benefits through one of the Social Security Administration’s disability programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

While these programs are necessary for many Americans, the application process can be extremely difficult, and the approval rate is often quite low. As many as 75 percent of SSD applications are denied at the initial application stage, setting off a complex process of hearings and appeals.

A disability lawyer can help you at any stage of the process, but it is often helpful to hire an attorney from the outset. The experience he or she brings to your claim can facilitate an application process that might seem like an insurmountable obstacle to a person without the legal expertise to handle such a complicated matter. Furthermore, if your disability prevents you from gainful employment, it stands to reason that compiling the necessary documentation and closely adhering to all application requirements would feel like a Herculean task.

Whether you are just beginning your disability application or whether you have already been denied benefits in your initial claim, the disability attorneys with Law Firm of Oklahoma can help you get benefits approval as quickly as possible to help you get the disability checks you need to meet your daily living expenses.

Social Security Disability Claims: Time is Critical

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) there were 58 million Americans receiving $816 billion in Social Security benefits in 2013. While the largest percentage of these were seniors receiving retirement benefits, a significant portion were individuals and dependents receiving disability benefits—approximately 19 percent. Eleven million disabled workers and their dependents received disability checks averaging $1,129 per month.

In addition to the number of people actively receiving benefits each year, there is a high number of applicants awaiting benefits approval. In 2010, there were nearly 3 million disability applications. On average, it takes about a year in order to complete the full process of application and appeals.

This is important to understand, because the Social Security Disability fund is expected to be depleted by 2016. As long as there are workers, there will be social security disability insurance payments collected through payroll taxes, but the rate of expenditure is surpassing the rate of income.

If you have suffered a disabling medical condition that prevents you from maintaining gainful employment, you must act quickly to get your benefits in a timely fashion. Hiring an attorney can help you maximize your attention for early approval. If your claim is denied, it is important to have a skilled disability lawyer representing you at disability hearings and subsequent appeals. According to the SSA’s own statistics, 53 percent of disability benefits claims were ultimately denied—more than half of the applicants never got the benefits they were seeking. Relying on the experience and knowledge of a skilled legal professional can help put you among those who receive an approval of disability benefits.

Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Disability Insurance program and its sub-programs offer disability payments to people  who are no longer able to work as a result of a disabling condition and to workers’ dependents. Title II disability programs include the following:

When a disabled worker applies for DIB benefits, the Social Security Administration evaluates five questions in determining whether or not the applicant is eligible for disability benefits:

  1. Is the applicant working? If you are working and earning more than $1,070 per month, you are not considered to be eligible for Social Security Disability, which is reserved for those who are no longer able to work as a result of their temporary or permanent disability.
  2. Is the applicant’s condition severe? If the condition is not severe enough to interfere with basic work activities, then the applicant will not qualify for disability benefits. However, if the condition’s severity prevents the applicant from gainful employment, he or she may qualify.
  3. Is the applicant’s condition found on the SSA’s list of disabling conditions? The SSA maintains a list of medical conditions that, in theory, automatically qualify an applicant for approval. If the applicant’s condition (or combination of conditions) is not on the list, the SSA determines whether the severity of the condition or the cumulative effect of conditions is equal to those listed. However, there have been cases of applicants suffering from a listed condition who are not approved benefits without appeal. Do not assume your case is a “slam dunk.”
  4. Can the applicant do the work he or she did previously? When evaluating the severity of your condition, the SSA will look to see if the effects of the illness or injury prevent you from doing the work you once did. If they determine that the condition does not interfere with your job duties, you will be denied benefits.
  5. Can the applicant do any other type of work? Just because a medical condition prevents you from doing the job you once did does not mean you will be granted benefits. The SSA will look at the effects of your condition as well as the occupational requirements of other types of jobs in order to see if the condition prevents you from doing any type of gainful work. If you can perform a job earning $1070 per month or more ($1800 if you are blind), then you are considered to be able to maintain Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), and you will not qualify for disability benefits.

Despite its listings of jobs and occupations, the SSA may not appropriately assess your claim. Your attorney can ensure that you provide all necessary documentation and medical records to illustrate the full, cumulative effects of your condition and how your disability prevents you from maintaining the employment necessary to support yourself and your family.

How Can I Afford a Disability Lawyer?

If you cannot make ends meet while you are unemployed by disability, you may wonder how you can afford a lawyer to handle your case. It is important to understand that disability lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning that they do not earn any fees unless you win your case. The amount your lawyer gets paid is stipulated by law, and it is taken as a percentage of your back payment.

Finding a lawyer to handle your claim is so important that an Administrative Law Judge is required to inform unrepresented applicants that they have the right to obtain legal representation. In fact, the SSA itself acknowledges that applicants represented by a disability lawyer have a greater chance of obtaining benefits approval.

The real question isn’t, “Can I afford a lawyer?” It is whether you can afford not to have a lawyer.

Social Security Disability Representation in Oklahoma

Whether you are just beginning the disability application or whether you have already been denied benefits, the disability lawyers with Law Firm of Oklahoma are ready to help you. Call today for a free consultation, and let us help you get the benefits you need.