When a person falls victim to a life-altering injury or sickness, it is understandable to be apprehensive about the future. Thankfully, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program exists to provide hard working with assistance in times of financial hardship. A Pinellas County SSDI lawyer can work with people who have been permanently injured or ill to fight for the benefits that their hard work has provided. Speak with a dedicated lawyer who can advocate for you.

Medical Requirements

The SSDI program requires that a person is unable to participate in any substantially gainful activity. This means having any work in excess of 30 hours per week. It also requires that this disability can be expected to result in death, or has lasted, or can be expected to last, for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. Many people believe that since they are unable to do their past work, that they qualify as disabled.

The truth is that according to the Social Security Administration, a person must be unable to perform any work for at least 30 hours a week. Just because someone cannot do their old job, does not mean that they cannot perform a different job, even if that job offers a lower pay rate or worse benefits. For example, a former accountant who has a severe depressive mood disorder will need to demonstrate that their condition prevents them not only from accounting but also from performing any other type of job, such as construction.

Another common misconception is that a person’s disability must be caused by a physical condition. In reality, many otherwise qualified candidates have had successful claims based upon mental health conditions such as severe anxiety or schizophrenia. In cases involving mental illness, the applicant will need to show that their conditions are so severe that they cannot be an effective employee in any full-time position.

Lastly, a candidate must be under consistent care by a doctor. It is one thing to obtain a diagnosis, but the Social Security Administration needs to see evidence that the applicant has pursued appropriate medical care, and that treatment in the forms of surgery, therapy, or medications have been ineffective at providing permanent relief. If an applicant has not seen a doctor since an initial diagnosis, it is almost assured that their claim will be denied.

Past Work Requirements

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program requires that applicants have a substantial work history. When looking at a paycheck, it is noticeable that money has been taken out in the form of taxes for Social Security. One of the programs that these taxes funds is the SSDI program. Over time, a working person accumulates credits towards the program. Credits are issued for every quarter year that a person works with a minimum required income level.

The amount of income needed to qualify for a quarterly credit has increased over the years but for 2016 the amount was $1,260. Over time, an applicant needs to acquire 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the past 10 years. For younger applicants, this number may change. For example, if an applicant has worked full-time for the past 10 years, they will certainly have acquired sufficient credits. However, if they only worked part-time for 17 credits over the past 10 years, they can no longer claim SSDI, regardless of how much they worked in the past.

The amount of money that a successful applicant receives varies from person to person but is usually scaled depending on a person’s lifetime earnings.  Therefore, it is safe to assume that a person who made $40,000 per year would be eligible for greater benefits than a person who earned $25,000 per year. It is also worth mentioning that there is no familial income requirement for SSDI as there is for SSI. If a person’s spouse continues to work full-time, they can still successfully claim SSDI benefits.

How a Pinellas County SSDI Attorney Can Help

Applying for SSDI benefits can be a complicated and time-consuming process. If the application goes through the entire process of appeals, the case can last over two years.

However, a Pinellas County SSDI lawyer can increase your chance of an earlier approval by submitting paperwork in a timely fashion, obtaining all your relevant medical records, and ensuring that all the documents are properly submitted.

Even if your case takes two years to resolve, you may be eligible for retroactive benefits stretching back to the day that it is determined you became disabled. Let an attorney worry about submitting paperwork and obtaining the proper records and concentrate on healing. Contact an SSDI lawyer in Pinellas County today.

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