If you become unable to work due to an injury, illness or disease, you may qualify for income and/or medical coverage benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). To qualify for these benefits, you must prove that your condition has either prevented you from working for at least one year, or that it is expected to prevent you from working for one year.
THE SOCIAL SECURITY EVALUATION PROCESS
When the SSA evaluates a disability claim, the first thing they determine is whether you are currently working. In order to qualify for benefits, your current work earnings must be under the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level that SSA considers full-time work. Currently, this means that if you earn over $1000 per month from work, you will not qualify for disability benefits. If you are working and earning less than $1000 per month, SSA may still consider the kind of work you are doing, as well as the amount you are working and earning as factors in determining whether you are disabled. For instance, if you are earning $900 per month working 25 hours per week in a construction job, the SSA may decide that you would be capable of working full-time hours in a less strenuous job, and therefore they may deny your claim.
Once the SSA is convinced that you are not currently working full-time, they will determine whether you have any physical or mental impairments that they consider to be "severe". A severe impairment is one that causes interference with basic work-activities. In order to have your case considered, you must have at least one impairment that the SSA considers to be "severe."
After the SSA determines that you are not working and that you have at least one severe impairment, the remainder of the evaluation process involves determining specifically how your impairment(s) affect your ability to do the kind of work you have done in the past and, depending on your age, how it would affect your ability to work in other jobs. In some cases, if your condition meets certain specific medical criteria, your case can be won without consideration of your past work and other jobs, but those situations are rare. In the vast majority of cases, success or failure depends on the outcome of a complicated analysis of specific impairment-related limitations and determinations.
HOW MCELREATH & STEVENS, LLC CAN HELP
The process described above can be frustrating, confusing, time-consuming and heartbreaking. At the initial application and the reconsideration stage (the first appeal), the SSA denies around 60% and 90% of all applicants. The denial letters sent out by the SSA can be demoralizing, often indicating that they think your problems aren't a big deal and that you should just find a different job.
We understand that losing your ability to work is the hardest thing you've ever confronted. We know that losing the ability to provide for yourself and your family is not a choice you have made voluntarily, but rather is the unfortunate reality that has been imposed on you.
When you get denied by the SSA, you should not give up. You should contact a local attorney who specializes in Social Security disability. At the hearing level of the SSA appeal process, with a Social Security attorney on your side who understands the law, rules and regulations impacting your claim, you will have the greatest chance of success in your disability claim.
Whether you have applied for benefits already or not, if you call our office, we will help you. We will advise you and guide your claim with specialized skill and personal care. Our offices are conveniently located in Cartersville, Georgia and Atlanta, Georgia. When you call our offices, you will be able to speak with an attorney and the attorney that handles your claim will be available to answer any question you have throughout the process. We are proud that we have remained a small firm, because it allows us to provide the highest level of personal care to each of our clients. Along with our dedicated staff, we look forward to the chance to help you