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Social Security Disability Attorneys in Tallahassee, Florida

According to the Office of Retirement and Disability Policy of the Social Security Administration (SSA), nearly 10 million people are receiving Social Security disability benefits. In December 2019, the latest figures available, there were 8,378,374 disabled workers, 1,140,580 disabled adult children, and 246,142 disabled widow(er)s receiving disability benefits.

The SSA administers two types of disability programs: one for those who qualify under work-related requirements and one for those who qualify because of low income. Both require disabilities that will last at least 12 months or even until death.

In any given year, the claims denial rate can be as high as 50 percent or more. If you’ve been denied disability payments under either Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, contact Larry K White, LLC. We will fight to help get you the benefits you deserve and qualify for.

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Two Types of Disability Benefits

The SSA offers SSD benefits for those who have earned enough credits through their employment to qualify. SSI is available for those who are aged (65 and up), blind, or disabled, but it is conditioned on the “resources'' you possess.

Claims must be filed through SSA field offices or state agencies called Disability Determination Services (DDS). The DDSs, which are fully funded by the federal government, are state agencies responsible for developing medical evidence and making the initial determination of whether a claimant is disabled or blind under the law.

For SSD benefits, you must earn work credits to qualify. In 2021, you earn one work credit for every $1,470 in wages or self-employment income. To qualify for disability benefits, you must have earned 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the 10 years ending with the year of your disability, though younger workers can qualify with fewer credits.

For SSI benefits, your resources must total less than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a married couple living together. However, some resources are excluded, including:

  • The home you live in and the land it is on

  • One vehicle of any value

  • Household goods and personal effects

  • Life insurance policies of less than $1,500 in value

  • Burial plots

  • Burial funds for you and your spouse valued at $1,500 or less each

  • Property you or your spouse use in a trade or business, or on your job if you work for someone else

  • Money you have set aside under a Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS)

  • Up to $100,000 in funds in an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account established through a state ABLE program

Denial of Claims and Appeals

The SSA lists several reasons that they will deny your disability claim. The cited reasons are applicable if the claimant:

  • Has an impairment, physical or mental, that is not expected to last 12 months

  • Has an impairment that is not considered severe

  • Is able to perform his or her normal type of work

  • Is able to perform another type of work

Has an impairment resulting from drug addiction or alcoholism, provides insufficient medical evidence, fails to cooperate, fails to follow prescribed treatment, does not want to continue development of the claim, or returns to substantial work before the disability can be established

The SSA does not use the words “deny” or “denial,” but refers to your turned-down request for disability benefits as “the initial determination.” You have 60 days after the receipt of the initial determination to file for what the agency calls “reconsideration.”

If the reconsideration still amounts to a denial of benefits, you have another 60 days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The SSA will pay for your travel expenses if you live more than 75 miles away from the hearing site. It will also pay for any medical exams or tests ordered by the ALJ. You can also request the judge to order witnesses, such as medical and vocational experts, to appear and provide testimony.

If the ALJ still denies your benefits, you can request a review by the SSA’s Appeals Council. You have 60 days to do so. The Appeals Council, however, will only review a case based on additional evidence if it is new material related to the period on or before the hearing decision and there is a reasonable probability the evidence would change the outcome of the decision.

Your final option if the Appeals Council rejects your claim is to file with the U.S. District Court serving your locale. Again, you have 60 days to do so.

Social Security Disability Attorneys in Tallahassee, Florida

Given the high percentage of claimants who are denied disability benefits, it is important that your initial application be as complete and compelling as possible. If you’re denied upon your initial request, it is even more important to obtain experienced legal assistance. If you’re in Tallahassee, Florida, or nearby in Gainesville, Jacksonville, or Gadsden or Jefferson counties, contact Larry K White, LLC. We will help you determine which program you qualify for and make sure you have the best chance for approval.