Find the Best Social Security Disability Attorney Serving Fayetteville
If you have a diagnosed medical disability and you are no longer able to work, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Unfortunately, securing SSD benefits can be a complicated and frustrating process and many valid claims are denied initially.
At Hardison & Cochran, our Social Security Disability attorneys have more than 30 years of experience focused exclusively on injury and disability cases in Fayetteville and the surrounding counties. When you work with our legal team, we will thoroughly examine your medical records, document your disability and employment history, and ensure your claim isn’t delayed by avoidable errors.
There are no up-front or out-of-pocket fees to have a Fayetteville disability benefits lawyer handle your SSD claim. We can get started on your case immediately. Our initial consultations are always free. We only charge a legal fee if we secure disability benefits for you. There’s no risk to you when you’re ready to contact us for answers.
What Are the Different Types of SSD?
The Social Security Administration operates two main federal disability benefits programs:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI benefits are derived from payroll tax contributions. As people earn income in the United States, they contribute a portion of their earnings to the Social Security trust fund.
People who have been employed in the past but are no longer capable of working due to a disabling medical condition may be eligible to receive SSDI benefits. You must have an established employment history and have paid Social Security taxes to qualify. SSDI benefits may also be available to spouses and minor dependents of disabled workers.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI benefits are based on financial need rather than employment history. SSI benefit payments are funded by general taxes rather than the Social Security fund.
To qualify for SSI benefits, you must be able to demonstrate that you have very limited personal assets and income. In North Carolina, people who are eligible to receive SSI benefits are automatically entitled to receive Medicaid.
Who Qualifies for Disability Benefits?
While there is some overlap, SSDI and SSI benefits are different programs intended for different types of recipients. Each program evaluates criteria related to your medical disability status in addition to several non-medical factors.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must be able to prove that you have a diagnosed medical disability that prevents you from working and that you accumulated a certain number of work credits during your years of employment. In most cases, this means demonstrating at least five to ten years of gainful employment.
To qualify for SSI benefits, you must show that you have limited income and are either medically disabled, blind, or at least 65 years of age.
A Fayetteville disability benefits attorney at Hardison & Cochran can help you determine your eligibility for disability benefit payments.
How Much Can I Receive in Benefits?
If you believe you qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, you may be wondering how much money you could receive each month in benefit payments. For each program, the answer will depend on several factors.
SSDI benefit amounts are largely based on your qualifying lifetime earnings. This means the more you earned during your working years, the higher your benefit payments should be. As of 2021, the average monthly SSDI benefits payment is $1,277, while someone who had a fairly high income can receive up to $3,148.
SSI payments, on the other hand, are based on your financial need. The more limited your income and resources, the more SSI benefits you may be eligible to receive. The maximum monthly SSI benefit amounts as of 2021 are $794 for individuals and $1,191 for married couples.
If you are eligible for concurrent SSDI benefits and SSI benefits, the amount you receive from one program may affect how much you can receive from the other. You can work with a lawyer to determine the best way to claim the full benefits available.
What Happens After I Submit an SSD Application?
When you apply for SSD benefits in North Carolina, your application is initially reviewed by the SSA. The SSA checks for basic eligibility requirements such as work history and income level. Once the SSA determines you are eligible, they send your application to North Carolina’s Disability Determination Services (DDS).
DDS is a state program that works with the Social Security Administration to make medical determinations for disability claims in North Carolina. DDS typically reviews evidence from your health care providers and may require you to undergo an additional consultative examination (CE) to make a determination about your level of disability.
After the SSA and DDS make their determinations, you will either begin to receive benefit payments or receive a notice of denial. If your application is denied, you have 60 days to file a request for reconsideration of the decision. If you are still denied, a Fayetteville disability appeals attorney can help you request a hearing, file an appeal, and present your case for disability benefits to a judge.
Common Reasons for SSD Claim Denials
According to the SSA’s reports, only about 20 to 25 percent of those who apply for disability benefits are approved after the initial application. Many people with valid disability claims receive denial letters initially and have to pursue an appeal to seek benefits.
The majority of claims are denied at first because of technical or eligibility issues such as:
- Errors, inconsistencies, or incomplete portions in your application
- Insufficient evidence of financial need or lack of resources
- Insufficient evidence of your medical disability
- Lack of proof that your disability precludes any gainful employment
- Failure to appear for consultative examinations or SSA appointments
- Insufficient work credits or too much income
How Can I Improve My Chances of SSD Approval?
Since many SSD applications are denied, the process of applying for disability benefits can feel intimidating and stressful.
Avoid disqualifying technical issues and unnecessary delays in your SSD application by:
- Heeding your doctor’s orders – If you fail to attend follow-up appointments, take prescribed medications, or submit to routine procedures, the SSA may decide your medical condition is not as severe as you claim.
- Being upfront about your condition – Even if you don’t believe your impairment is severe enough to qualify for benefits, it’s important to be honest about your symptoms.
- Keeping the SSA informed – Make sure the SSA has your current address, contact details, and banking information on file.
- Paying close attention to deadlines – Your claim and responses to additional information requests need to be submitted in a timely manner. Failure to meet deadlines can lead to a denial of your claim.
- Keeping an eye on your income – If you are still earning an income, pay attention to your monthly earnings. If your income exceeds certain thresholds, the SSA may determine you are not entitled to disability benefits.
How an Attorney Can Help You Fight for SSD Benefits
Working with a knowledgeable Social Security Disability lawyer can increase your chances of obtaining approval for your disability claim.
An experienced Fayetteville SSD attorney can support your claim by:
- Evaluating your eligibility for SSDI and SSI benefits
- Making sure your disability is medically documented and submitting the medical records needed to prove your disability
- Helping you determine how and when to file to maximize your benefit payments
- Interviewing medical professionals for supportive statements regarding your physical condition and inability to work
- Helping you prepare for questions at disability hearings
- Arranging for testimony from witnesses who can support your case
- Cross-examining vocational experts, who are called to provide testimony regarding your ability to do various types of work
- Reviewing denial letters from the SSA, determining why you were denied, and finding the best way to proceed
- Navigating the appeals process and helping you manage important paperwork and filing deadlines
If you need a personal injury lawyer for your Fayetteville Social Security Disability claim, the attorneys of Hardison & Cochran can give your case the personalized attention and careful consideration you need. With our extensive experience and resources in the area of disability claims, we can help you submit a compelling and error-free claim for full benefits.
From the moment you retain our services, we will move to gather critical medical evidence, helpful witness testimony, and proof of your work history. If your claim is denied for any reason, we can work with you to identify the reason for the denial and how to respond. Our team will help you appeal a denied claim and prepare for a disability hearing.
We have extensive experience pursuing disability claims all the way through the appeals process, and we are prepared to fight aggressively for the benefits you are owed.