Need Help With Social Security Disability in South Carolina?
According to the Social Security Administration, more than 60% of initial Social Security Disability claims are denied.
The average wait time from date of application to date of decision by an Administrative Law Judge is over two years.
For individuals and families struggling to make ends meet after suffering a disabling injury or illness, those statistics can seem frightening and heartbreaking.
Don’t Give Up, Even If Your Social Security Disability Claim Has Been Denied.
The good news is that a majority of those who appeal the denials and persist through the process will eventually be awarded benefits. When facing the complexity and confusion of the Social Security Disability appeals process, though, it can be reassuring to have a legal representative with experience by your side.
The Bluestein Attorneys Social Security Disability Team can guide you through this process, working with you to file timely appeals, gather your medical records or other supportive documentation, and prepare you for testifying at your Social Security Disability hearing.
We’ll advocate on your behalf before an Administrative Law Judge.
Whether you’re considering filing that first claim for disability benefits, you’ve already filed and are waiting to hear the judge’s decision, or your Social Security Disability claim has been denied and you’re not sure where to turn next, Bluestein Attorneys is here to help.
We have experience working within the Social Security Disability claims process, and we’ll stand by your side to ensure your individual rights are represented and your voice is heard.
You can find answers to some of the most common questions about Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income below.
To request your free Social Security Disability consultation, simply fill out this form.
What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program designed to provide income supplements to individuals who are unable to seek employment because of a notable disability.
While the Social Security retirement program was enacted as part of New Deal legislation in 1935, Social Security Disability benefits did not become available until 1954. Since then, Social Security Disability benefits (and Social Security Insurance) have provided much-needed aid to individuals and families facing serious economic hardship as a result of their inability to maintain employment as a result of a disability, injury, or illness.
Social Security Disability benefits can be temporary, long-term, or permanent, depending on your unique situation. These benefits are received once per month, and which day an individual’s disability benefits arrive depends on their birthday (except for SSI, which you can learn more about here).
The Difference Between Disability and SSI Benefits
While many people think of Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as basically the same thing, the two are actually very different programs designed to meet separate needs.
Take a look below to see a few of the key differences between SSD and SSI.
Social Security Disability (SSD)
- An earned benefit program that focuses on physical or mental impairments that are severe enough to prevent employment
- The qualifying impairment must be expected to last 12 months or longer
- Financed using payroll taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed people
- Minors under 18 with qualifying disabilities may receive SSD
- Disability benefits can be paid out after the qualifying person’s death to their widow or widower or minor children
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Pays benefits to low-income individuals who are disabled or blind or who are 65 years of age or older
- Because SSI is means-tested, individuals who receive it are allowed a very low maximum earned income and combined assets
- Financed by general revenues collected by the U.S. Treasury Department
- SSI is available to minors under 18 who are disabled or blind
- Unlike SSD, SSI benefits are not tied to an individual’s work record
There are some differences not listed above, and applying for SSI is a detailed and complex process. For more information on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), how to file for SSI, and how a legal representative can help you gain access to the benefits you need to make ends meet, check out our Supplemental Security Income page.
How to Find Out If You Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits
It can be disorienting to find yourself suddenly disabled and unable to earn an income due to an injury or illness. Some Americans become unable to maintain employment due to long-term hearing loss, others suffer from disabling injuries after an accident or even a build up of physical damage over time due to the requirements of their career.
Long-term illness, like autoimmune disorders or other so-called “invisible disabilities”, can gradually remove a person’s physical ability to maintain employment.
In these situations, individuals may find themselves wondering if their particular disability even qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, there are two main conditions that must be met: you must be disabled by the Social Security Administration’s standards, and have enough work credits.
What Counts as a Qualifying Disability for SSDI?
The Social Security Administration’s standard as “disabled” is a little more complex and nuanced than simply “unable to continue working in your current occupation.” In order to be considered disabled, you must be suffering from a long-term (12 months or longer) or permanent disability that completely prevents you from maintaining any type of employment.
For example: someone previously working on a manufacturing floor, which requires quite a bit of constant movement and standing on their feet, may become injured as a way that prevents them from standing for long periods of time or moving easily around. However, they can still work in an administrative capacity or another type of work, and so the SSA would probably not qualify that person as disabled should they apply for SSDI benefits.
You can find more details on what types of disability qualify for Social Security Disability in what is often called the “Blue Book”, a listing of certain medical conditions that qualify individuals for SSI benefits.
Finding your particular medical condition in the Blue Book can be a helpful start, but it’s not all you need in order to prove your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits.
How Many Work Credits Have You Earned?
A qualifying disability is not enough on its own to qualify for disability benefits. You’ll also need to have earned enough work credits over the course of your employment. Although there is a lot of complexity to the work credit qualifications, they are generally as follows:
|Younger than 24||6 work credits in the 3-year period that ended when your disability began|
|24-31||Credit for working half the time between the age of 21 and onset of disability|
|31-42||20 work credits earned during the 10 years immediately prior to onset of disability|
|44-62||20 work credits + 2 for each 2 years of age (EXAMPLE: 26 work credits required at age 48, 32 at age 54, 36 work credits at age 58, etc)|
|62+||40 work credits needed prior to onset of disability|
We understand that the different requirements and qualifications can be confusing, especially when you’re in the midst of a stressful time trying to make ends meet.
Our legal representatives would be happy to speak with you at a free initial Social Security Disability consultation.
We’ll go over your unique circumstances, discuss the different options available to you, and help you decide the best course of action for you moving forward. Request your Social Security Disability consultation by clicking the banner.
How Do You File for Social Security Disability?
There are a few ways to begin the application process:
- Apply online at the Social Security Administration website.
- Call the Social Security Administration toll-free at (800) 772-1213 (For the deaf or hard of hearing, call (800) 325-0778.
- Call your local Social Security Administration office and discuss applying over the phone, or schedule an appointment for an in-person visit.
You should apply for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as possible after you become unable to maintain employment due to a disabling injury or illness.
Regardless of which method you use to begin the disability benefits application process, you’ll need to have some essential documentation on-hand. Having all of this information together will make it more likely that you’ll be approved and will help you to build your appeal in case of denial.
Gather together the documentation you need before applying for disability benefits, including:
- Social Security number and proof of age
- The names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics you have received treatment or care from due to your injury or illness, and the dates of your visits (we suggest keeping copies of all receipts you receive when checking out after doctor visits, as well as medical bills)
- Names and dosages of all medications you are taking
- Medical records from doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers that you already have in your possession
- Laboratory or test results
- A summary of your employment prior to the onset of your disability, including the name and contact information of the company and the kind of work you performed
- Your most recent W-2 form (if self-employed, provide a copy of your federal tax return)
- Social Security numbers and proof of age for any other family members who may qualify for benefits
- Proof of marriage if your spouse is also applying for benefits (plus dates of prior marriages, if applicable)
Provide Original Documents or Certified Copies
Notify the Administration of Any Missing Documents
Once you’ve finalized your application, there are a few steps you can take while waiting to hear back from Social Security on your disability benefits. Click the banner below to learn more.
What Questions Will a Judge Ask at a Social Security Disability Hearing?
The process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be nerve-wrecking and stressful when you’re not very familiar with the legal complexities involved and you’re not sure what’s happening behind the scenes while waiting for your disability benefits claim to be approved.
We have found that many of our clients felt most worried about the Social Security Disability hearing, where they speak to a judge about their disabling injury or illness. When you have medical bills and monthly utilities piling up, having to stand in court can feel overwhelming.
We believe the best way to get our clients the best possible outcome during a Social Security Disability hearing is to thoroughly prepare them for the kinds of questions they’ll be expected to answer.
While not every Social Security judge will ask exactly the same things, you’ll likely be expected to answer detailed questions about:
- Your background
- Your employment history
- Your current medical condition
- Your daily routine
In one of our most popular blog posts, we broke down the kinds of responses a judge will be looking for in order to help you prepare. If you’re wondering what kinds of questions a judge will ask at a Social Security Disability hearing, this may help you to feel better prepared.
What to Do If Your Social Security Disability Claim Has Been Denied
First of all – don’t give up.
Even though your Social Security Disability claim may have been denied, that doesn’t mean it’s over or that you didn’t qualify. Most individuals who appeal their initial denial and persist through the process will be awarded benefits.
Request an appeal within 60 days of receiving your denial, then speak with a legal representative about your options moving forward. If you fail to appeal within 60 days, you could lose your ability to appeal the claim and be forced to start the entire process over with a new disability benefits claim. This means even more waiting while you still need to put food on the table.
Once you’ve initiated an appeal, schedule a consultation with a legal representative who have experience working within the Social Security Disability appeals process. It may be in your best interests to hire an attorney to represent you during the appeal.
A legal representative can help you to nail down why the initial denial happened, gather together any missing medical records or other documentation, and advocate on your behalf with the Social Security Administration.
Remember, a denial isn’t the end of the process, it’s just a turn in the road ahead. If you choose to work with Bluestein Attorneys, it’s our mission to advocate for you and help you to choose the next best step for you. Request your free consultation with Bluestein Attorneys today.
Can You Work While Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Individuals applying for Social Security Disability benefits are often dealing with immense financial stress after receiving a disabling injury or suffering from a serious illness. It can seem like continuing to maintain employment while waiting for your decisions is an easy way to keep bringing income into the household, but many of our clients have wondered if maintaining any kind of employment will result in a denial of their Social Security Disability claim.
The short answer is, maintaining some employment is not cause for an automatic denial. But there’s a bit more to it than that.
Since SSDI is designed to provide income for individuals who have become unable to perform any and all types of work after a disabling injury or illness, you should only apply for disability benefits if you have determined that you are unable to work in any full-time capacity.
If you are working full-time or you are able to work full-time, you will be deemed ineligible for benefits. However, if you are working only on an occasional or part-time basis, you may still be eligible for Social Security Disability!
There is a cap on how much income you can bring in from employment and remain eligible, and other qualifications and requirements must be met related to the amount of hours worked and what type of work you are performing.
Also, individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will find that any employment, whether part-time or full-time, will impact their ability to receive SSI benefits.
Learn more about the rules around working while applying for Social Security Disability benefits, how SSI benefits are determined if you bring in outside income, and whether or not it is risky to maintain even part-time employment during the disability benefits application process by clicking the banner below.
Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Social Security Disability Benefits?
Individuals applying for Social Security Disability benefits may wait two years or even longer for a final decision. Even after approval, a serious backlog of cases in nearly every local Social Security Administration office means it’s not uncommon for recipients to only receive their first payments months or even years after approval.
SSDI benefits include back pay for most or sometimes all of the time spent waiting on approval, appealing, or waiting on the first payments.
Individuals who persist through the process will receive a single lump sum covering that amount, which could be substantial.
We’ve all heard about someone who received a ‘lump sum’ payment in other circumstances, only to be dismayed to discover that single large sum of money threw off their expected Annual Income for the year and resulted in a higher rate of taxation.
When every dollar counts, you deserve to know if your Social Security Disability benefits backpay is taxable.
The short answer is maybe, but the long answer is a bit more complicated.
The IRS does not penalize individuals who receive their past-due SSDI benefits in a single lump sum, but there is a possibility you will end up paying taxes on a small portion of your SSDI backpay, depending on your overall annual income.
Federal law does state that individuals can apportion past-due benefits to previous years. For individuals who are worried about the SSDI lump sum payment pushing them into a higher tax bracket, this can help to mitigate or even do away with this added stress.
For more information on whether South Carolina requires state taxes be paid on Disability benefits back pay and whether or not you can deduct your attorney fees from your annual income taxes, click the banner below.
Can Children Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
While most people think of Social Security in terms of older adults who are retiring from active workforce participation, there is another, essential duty that Social Security performs — providing benefits for children undergoing serious disabilities or who have lost a parent or had a parent become disabled through illness or injury.
These benefits are explicitly designed to help the child and their family cope with the immense financial and emotional stress that could result after a parent’s death or disability or the diagnosis of disability in an infant or child.
Social Security Disability benefits for children are structured to provide for their needs through high school and until the age of maturity. Unmarried adult children who are dependents may still qualify beyond the date of maturity as well, depending on certain circumstances.
Unfortunately, families sometimes struggle to gain access to disability benefits for children, and it can be a great help to have a legal representative by your side, advocating on behalf of you and your child while allowing you to focus on what matters most — your child’s health and well-being during a trying time.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Social Security Disability?
Did you know that individuals who work with a legal representative with experience in Social Security Disability claims are more likely to have their claim approved? Research has shown that an applicant represented by legal counsel is more likely to receive final approval than one who isn’t. Most of this comes down to individuals applying for disability benefits receiving the benefit of the attorney’s experience working with the Social Security Administration and their dedicated advocacy through the process.
A Social Security Disability attorney will be able to help their client understand how to present their situation in the most favorable manner to the SSA and Social Security judge during their hearing.
We generally say that the best time to request a Social Security Disability consultation with a legal representative is as early as possible. You may find it helpful to receive advice on your initial application and more information on what steps you can take while waiting on the SSA’s decision.
If your initial application is denied, your attorney may be able to collect and submit important medical evidence, obtain an opinion from medical professionals you are receiving care related to your disability from, draft detailed briefs for the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who will oversee your appeal, and prepare you for the judge’s questions at the hearing.
With a Social Security Disability attorney by your side, you’ll be able to put together the strongest possible case for your qualifying disability.
Get to know Stacy Thompson
In order to ensure that our clients have the best possible advocacy during the Social Security Disability claims process, we maintain a dedicated Social Security Disability attorney.
Stacy Thompson is a compassionate, committed legal professional who has built her career on fighting for the individual rights of disabled individuals who need someone who will stand by their side. Learn more about Stacy Thompson »
Looking for Help with Social Security Disability Benefits or Assistance with SSI?
Bluestein Attorneys is here to help.
We have experience with helping clients seeking Social Security Disability benefits after a disabling injury or illness, and our Social Security Disability attorney will stand by your side every step of the way. We’ll help you gather essential medical records and other documentation, prepare for your day in court, and fight to ensure your individual rights are represented.