Need help with your claim?
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Are you suffering from an illness or injury that has left you unable to work? If you are completely disabled, you may be eligible to receive monthly Social Security benefits, although obtaining those benefits can be a challenge.
At Marks & Harrison, we help qualifying individuals in Virginia obtain the Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits they are entitled to receive.
Our firm was established in 1911 – more than 100 years ago – and our practice is focused exclusively on helping injured people.
We have handled a wide range of Social Security Disability claims and helped many people to obtain the benefits they need to survive after illness or injury has disabled them.
We can serve clients from our Richmond headquarters or from any of our other eight offices located throughout Virginia. Call or click here today to receive a free consultation.
If a veteran or family member disagrees with the VA’s decision on his or her claim, we can assist in an appeal, as well.
To begin with, we can review your circumstances to determine whether or not you are eligible for SSD benefits. SSD is for people who have worked and paid into Social Security, then later become disabled.
If you are disabled but your work history is insufficient to qualify you for SSD, you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits – another program administered by SSA. Most applications for SSD benefits are initially denied by SSA.
Our seasoned Richmond Social Security Disability attorney can help you obtain the necessary medical documentation and ensure that your application is properly and completely prepared to increase your chances of approval in the initial application phase.
If your claim has been denied in the application phase, it is even more important that our knowledgeable SSD attorney represent you in the “reconsideration” or hearing stage.
Much pre-hearing preparation may be needed, so contact our firm as soon as possible after your application has been denied. Our help can make a significant difference in whether or not you win on appeal.
SSA defines “disability” as a person’s inability to perform any kind of work because of an injury or a medical condition. The disability should be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death. The disability can be a result of a physical or mental condition or a combination of such conditions.
Many people have medical conditions that they may not realize are qualifying conditions for Social Security Disability benefits.
Social Security disability benefits can play an important role in your life. However, you may be confused about what it takes to get these benefits. If so, you are not alone. Many people find the disability benefits application and appeals process to be difficult to understand.
Contact us today and schedule a free consultation.
To help you get started, we present the following answers to the most common questions that our lawyers receive about disability benefits in Virginia.
To be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s very narrow definition of “disability.”
You cannot have a partial or temporary disability. Instead, your condition must:
Substantial gainful activity (SGA) refers to income. If you earn above a certain amount each month, you will not be considered to be “disabled.” The SSA adjusts those amounts each year. In 2017, the thresholds are:
When you apply for disability benefits, Virginia Disability Determination Services (DDS) will decide whether you meet the SSA’s definition of disability. A DDS examiner and medical consultant will review your medical records, employment records and other evidence in order to make this decision. You can read about the five-step sequential evaluation process here.
The key difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits concerns work requirements.
People who fail to qualify for SSDI benefits because they lack required work credits may be eligible for SSI benefits. An experienced disability benefits lawyer can review your circumstances and determine which option(s) you should pursue.
As soon as you know that you have a condition which prevents you from being able to work, you should apply for benefits. The process of applying for benefits and getting a decision on your claim can take some time. Additionally, if you are approved, there will be a five-month waiting period between your date of disability and the first date on which you can be paid. Also, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays back benefits for only a maximum of 12 months prior to your application date for an SSDI claim.
Once you decide to apply for benefits, you should gather your personal, medical and employment information as well as information concerning any other benefits you receive such as workers’ compensation or veterans’ disability (VA) benefits.
When you are ready, you can submit your application in one of three ways:
Of course, one of our attorneys can assist you with submitting your application. We also can help you track down the information and documents you will need for your application, including obtaining a statement from your treating doctor.
After you submit your SSDI or SSI benefits application, you should it expect it to take several months to get a decision.
You can expedite the process by making sure your application is accurate and complete. You should also make sure to include relevant medical records and a statement from your treating physician.
If DDS lacks enough evidence to make a decision on your medical eligibility, DDS may ask you to undergo a consultative examination. This is an examination by an independent physician. If this occurs, it may prolong your wait on a decision.
Of course, if your claim is denied and you appeal, it could add several months or years to your case. While the wait time may be frustrating, you should not let it deter you from seeking the benefits you believe you rightfully deserve.
You can always check on the status of your application by going to the SSA website and creating an account.
If your application for SSDI or SSI benefits is denied, you should appeal your denied claim. You do not want to go through the process of submitting a new application.
Pay attention to the date listed on the Notice of Denial letter that you receive in the mail. You have 60 days from that date to submit a Request for Reconsideration. At this stage, you will ask for a different DDS examiner and medical consultant to review your case. (Note: Although the Request for Reconsideration stage is available in Virginia, it is not available in 10 states. You should check with your lawyer about the first stage of appeal in your state.)
If your claim is denied a second time, you will have 60 days from the second denial date in which to submit a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge.
The disability benefits hearing would take place at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) that is closest to your home. You can also choose to go through your hearing by video.
The good news is that nearly 40 percent of claims reviewed in Virginia at the hearing stage are approved. The bad news is that you may have to wait as long as two years for your hearing to be held. (However, your lawyer from Marks & Harrison can explore any options available to expedite the process.)
If your claim is denied at the hearing stage, you can continue to appeal to the SSA Appeals Council in Falls Church or, if necessary, file a lawsuit in the nearest U.S. District Court.
Whether your hearing is conducted in person or by video, you should expect it to primarily serve as an information-gathering process for the administrative law judge (ALJ) who will decide your claim. For this reason, you should work with a lawyer who is familiar with the different types of information that ALJs in Virginia want to review.
During the hearing, the judge will hear from witnesses such as a medical expert and/or vocational expert. You (or your attorney) can cross-examine these witnesses and present your own witnesses. You can also testify on your own behalf.
Although the judge may announce a decision at the end of the hearing, you should expect a few more weeks or months to pass until you receive the official notice in the mail.
The answer depends on which type of benefits you receive.
Monthly SSDI benefits payments are based on your average lifetime “covered earnings” before your disability arose, while SSI benefits are based on the federal benefit rate, which typically changes each year due to cost-of-living increases.
According to a “monthly statistical snapshot” released by the SSA at the start of 2017, the average monthly SSDI benefit received by disabled workers in the U.S. was $1,171.15, while the average monthly SSI benefit was $542.38.
Keep in mind: If you receive SSDI benefits, you may also be eligible to receive back pay that can stretch back as far as 12 months prior to the date you applied for benefits. If you receive SSI benefits, you may receive back pay that goes back to one month after your application date.
Yes, other members of your family can also receive SSDI benefits based on your record, including:
Disabled, unmarried children over age 18 whose disability began before age 22 and whose disability meets the criteria of the SSA also can receive benefits.
In certain circumstances, your divorced ex-spouse – if still unmarried and age 62 or older – may receive benefits if you were married to each other for at least 10 years.
You can receive both types of benefits at the same time. As with SSDI benefits, you should apply for workers’ compensation benefits as soon as possible if your disability stems from a work-related accident or disease. Your Virginia workers’ compensation claim may actually get approved before you get a decision on your SSDI benefits claim.
The total amount of your workers’ compensation benefits and your SSDI benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings before you became disabled. If it does, then your SSDI benefits will be reduced to meet the 80 percent threshold.
You can work and earn income while you receive SSDI benefits. However, if your income exceeds the substantial gainful activity (SGA) thresholds (discussed above), you could lose your right to continue receiving those monthly payments. The SSA will check on your status through a Continuing Disability Review (CDR), which the SSA typically conducts every three years.
If you want to return to work and earn above the SGA threshold amounts, the SSA can provide help through its Ticket to Work program.
As part of this program, you will not be subjected to a CDR as long as you continue to make progress through the program. Also, if your benefits stop but you later on need to get them reinstated, you will not need to file a new application.
If you receive SSI benefits, you can continue receiving your monthly payments for up to nine months while you try to return to work.
You are not required to work with a lawyer. However, you will find that a lawyer can make a major difference in whether you succeed at obtaining the Social Security disability benefits that you and your family need.
For instance, if you need to present your case before an administrative law judge at a hearing, an attorney can gather evidence to present at the hearing, prepare you for the proceeding, cross-examine witnesses and put on the strongest case possible on your behalf.
Statistics actually show that claimants who work with a lawyer have a much higher success rate than those who do not.
At Marks & Harrison, we make it risk-free to work with a lawyer. You will pay us no legal fees unless your claim is approved.
If you are confused about the Social Security disability benefits process or find yourself running into obstacles, get help from the skilled, experienced and compassionate legal team at Marks & Harrison.
We can provide a free and immediate consultation by phone or at any one of our nine offices located throughout Virginia. Contact us today to learn more.
If you have been denied Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, contact the Virginia Social Security Disability attorneys of Marks & Harrison today. Statistics show that people represented by attorneys are more successful in obtaining Social Security benefits than people without attorney representation.
Our firm will take a look at your Social Security case to see what benefits you are entitled to and how we can help you obtain the Social Security benefits you deserve. Disabled persons or their families are eligible to collect SSD. Once benefits begin, they will continue as long as the person remains disabled.
The Virginia Social Security Disability lawyers of Marks & Harrison provide our clients with the information needed to make an informed decision regarding Social Security Disability laws and regulations.
An understanding of your legal rights can help you deal effectively with your disability and the resulting financial issues.
It is estimated that up to 54 million disabled children, adults and their families live in the United States. To provide economic assistance to the disabled, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has instituted two programs:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSD is an “insurance” program that pays disability benefits to persons(as well as to their certain disabled dependents) who have paid into the Social Security trust fund through the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA taxes). The employers of these insured individuals make equal FICA contributions on behalf of the employee.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is a financial aid or needs-based program that provides a basic income for disabled people who meet specific low-income guidelines.
Once you have recognized that you need help with your Social Security Disability claim, the next step is selecting an attorney to help you through the process. Our experienced attorneys have seen a great variety of situations relating to Social Security Disability and have helped many people receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
At Marks & Harrison, we know that our help can make a difference in whether or not you are successful in winning on appeal.
However, representation makes the most difference at the Hearing stage. It is very important that you arrange for attorney representation early enough to allow time for hearing preparation. It is best to call Marks & Harrison as soon as your application for benefits is denied. Much pre-hearing preparation, analysis and evidence gathering go into successful representation in a Social Security case.
There is never a charge for an initial consultation, and you will pay no legal fees unless your claim is approved.
You can also submit a Case Evaluation online. For more information on social security disability claims in Virginia, please review: Social Security Disability Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) To visit the official site for the U.S. Social Security Administration, click here.