At Butkovich & Associates, we pride ourselves on the quality of work that we perform on behalf of individuals seeking benefits from the Social Security Administration. Our disability attorneys have been practicing in the area of Social Security for many years, and we are very experienced in handling claims at the Initial Determination, Reconsideration, hearings in front of the Administrative Law Judge, and at the Appeal Council levels. We will assist you with filing your appeals and completing any forms that you receive from the Social Security Administration. We will also obtain medical evidence from your doctors documenting the physical and/or mental impairments that you have which limit your ability to work.
DEFINITION OF DISABILITY
The Social Security Administration defines a disability as an inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically documented physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve (12) months. If you believe that you will be out of work for more than one (1) year, you can file your application immediately. That application can be filed at any Social Security office, by telephone (1-800-772-1213) or online at www.socialsecurity.gov
TYPES OF BENEFITS
A. Social Security Disability Insurance: The Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSD) pays benefits to you and certain family members if you have enough credits for working a specific amount of time and earning a specific dollar amount during the ten (10) year period immediately preceding the onset of your disability. An adult child may also qualify for benefits on your earnings record if he or she has a disability that started before age twenty-two (22).
B. Supplemental Security Income: The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a federal welfare program for the disabled, blind and those over age sixty-five (65). Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is similar to Social Security Disability (SSD) except that is does not require participants to have been employed to qualify for benefits. However, there are both income and asset limitations for eligibility. individuals seeking Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments usually lack work experience.
DETERMINATION OF DISABILITY
The Social Security Administration uses a five (5) step process to determine if you are disabled:
1. Are you working? Even though you may have a severe impairment, if you are working and your monthly earnings average more than $1000.00 in gross wages, before taxes or any other deductions, that work activity will be considered Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), and you generally cannot be considered disabled. However, if you have Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWEs) which allow you to work, or if your work is not competitive, your work may not be considered SGA. If you are not working, go to step 2.
2. Is your condition severe? Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If your condition does not interfere with basic work-related activities, the Social Security Administration will find that you are not disabled. On the other hand, if your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, go to step 3.
3. In order to be found disabled at step 3, the medical signs, findings and symptoms of your condition(s) must meet or medically equal one of the set of medical signs, findings and symptoms for the conditions found in the Listing of Impairments. If you are found disabled at step 3, there is no inquiry about your ability to perform past work or other work. If your condition(s) does not meet or medically equal one of the medical conditions found in the Listing of Impairments, go to step 4.
4. Can you do the work that you did before?
If your condition is severe, but it does not meet or equal the level of severity as a medical condition found in the Listing of Impairments, the Social Security Administration must determine if the condition interferes with your ability to perform your past relevant work. In other words, you must prove that you are incapable of performing any of the work that you performed during the last 15 years or in the 15 years before your insured status expired. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, go to step 5.
5. Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do the type of work you did in the past, the Social Security Administration will determine if you can adjust to other work in the national economy. The Social Security Administration will consider your medical conditions, your age, education, past relevant work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to any other work, your claim will be likely approved. If it is determined that you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.
In most cases you only have 60 days from the date of the disability determination to file an appeal. If you or a family member has had an application for benefits denied by the Social Security Administration, we urge you to contact us immediately for assistance. This will allow us ample time to prepare an appeal to the denial of benefits issued by the Social Security Administration. There is no fee to assist you in filing the appeal or for your initial consultation with our ssi lawyers.