Social Security Disability law is the area of law surrounding federal social security programs.
Federal law determines who may apply for benefits from these programs and what benefits an applicant can receive.
Social security lawyers create social security laws, manage these programs as government administrators, and represent clients who make claims.
The area of law focuses on the administration of Social Security programs including Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.
What Is Social Security Disability Law?
Social Security disability law is the area of law that governs the creation and administration of United States Social Security programs.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two forms of social security programs that offer payments for people who are unable to work.
The area of Social Security disability law determines who qualifies to receive benefits from these programs.
Social Security disability law is a type of law that controls how benefits are paid and determined.
What Is Social Security?
There are three types of social security programs.
When most people think of Social Security, they think of benefits that are paid to people of retirement age.
That is one Social Security program.
However, there are two other types of Social Security programs.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays money to people who used to work but became unable to work because of a disability.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays money to people who are unable to earn an income of any kind.
What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government insurance program intended to help workers who become unable to continue working because of a disability.
The SSDI program is a federal insurance program where workers earn eligibility through work and payment of taxes.
The program then makes payments to qualified individuals who are unable to work in any capacity because of physical or mental impairments.
Social Security Disability Insurance is a government program designed to help people and their families when they are unable to work because of a disability.
What Is Supplemental Security Income?
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a program that is designed to provide income to individuals with needs regardless of whether they have a previous work history.
The SSI program does not determine eligibility based on work credits but rather on the inability of the person to work as well as what resources the person has to provide for their needs.
Supplemental Security Income is a United States federal program that makes financial payments to individuals who are unable to earn an income through work.
How an Attorney Helps with a Social Security Application?
For attorneys in private practice, Social Security law means helping clients apply for SSDI and SSI programs.
The rules for qualification are complex.
The application process is rigorous and detailed.
Social Security lawyers provide their clients with a number of services relative to the application process.
Understanding Eligibility for SSDI and SSI
Both the SSDI and the SSI programs have a complex system for determining benefit qualifications.
In the SSDI program, a person must accumulate work credits in order to receive benefits.
They may earn up to four credits each year and they accumulate a minimum amount of income.
To receive benefits, a worker must have earned 40 total credits and have 20 credits that they accumulated in the 10 years before the application date.
During this time of earning credits, the person contributes to the SSDI program by making tax contributions based on earnings.
Unlike the SSDI program, the SSI program is not based on work history or work credits.
To qualify for SSI, a person must be unable to work at any time even if they do not have any work history.
Even a child may receive SSI benefits. SSI benefits are based on a complex calculation called the federal benefit rate.
A portion of the applicant’s income is used as well as any other sources they have for support like subsidized housing or meals.
A Social Security attorney helps clients understand when they qualify for these programs.
They help ensure that the client qualifies to make a claim before beginning the application process.
By helping clients understand qualifications and potential benefits, Social Security attorneys help people make sound choices about pursuing an application for SSDI or SSI benefits.
Completing the Application for Social Security
Next, Social Security lawyers help their clients complete applications for SSDI and SSI benefits.
Completing an application requires showing that the person has a qualified impairment or the functional equivalent of a qualified impairment.
For an SSI application, it means showing that the person’s income doesn’t exceed family income limits.
Here is some of the information needed for an SSDI application:
- Name and personal information
- Date and place of birth
- Names and ages of children
- Military service history
- Employer details/Self-employment details
- Direct deposit information
- Alternative contact information
- List of medical conditions
- An exhaustive list of medical care and treatment providers
- Job history
- Education and vocational training
For any SSDI application, submitting complete and correct information is vital to preparing a successful application.
In fact, many applications are not successful for the simple reason that the application file is incomplete.
Through medical records, an applicant must show that they are unable to work any job in any field.
Applying for the Correct Benefit Amount
In addition to submitting the right information to receive SSDI or SSI benefits, a Social Security applicant must be sure to claim the correct benefit amount.
A Social Security lawyer works to ensure that the client receives the full amount that they deserve.
The SSI program is a needs-based program. If an applicant has other sources of income that total over a threshold, they can’t receive benefits.
A Social Security lawyer works to ensure that the SSDI and SSI program administrators have the information that they need to make the correct decision on behalf of their clients.
Appealing an Adverse Decision for Social Security Benefits
Social Security administrators deny approximately 60 percent of claims in the first round of applications.
A critical part of what Social Security attorneys do is help their clients pursue through rounds of appeals.
The Social Security system has a robust appeals system that culminates in federal court.
To win an appeal, an applicant must provide additional, detailed medical information and other missing information in order to convince claims evaluators of their eligibility.
Appeals begin internally within the Social Security Administration.
Internal appeals are called reconsideration.
Next, an administrative law judge reviews the application.
At this point, approximately 60 percent of denials are overturned.
An applicant who is still denied may bring their case to a federal court. At the early levels, a hearing may be informal.
However, whether a hearing is formal or informal, it’s important to have medical evidence and the correct arguments to present to the hearing official.
Because the application system is complex, qualified lawyers provide a valuable service in ensuring that their clients navigate the application system with success.
Who Practices Social Security Law?
Social Security lawyers primarily work in private practice representing Social Security applicants.
People apply for Social Security in all states.
Hearings occur throughout the United States.
Because Social Security is a federal program that operates nationally, lawyers in the field live and work throughout the United States.
In a large city, an attorney may sustain an entire practice based on Social Security law alone.
However, it’s common for attorneys in all geographic locations to combine Social Security law with other types of law.
For example, Social Security law often accompanies and intersects with personal injury law.
Individuals who suffer injuries in personal injury accidents often need benefits from a Social Security program.
In addition, Social Security benefits are often a part of estate planning.
A Social Security Disability attorney may combine the practice of Social Security law with other areas of law to form a well-rounded practice with comprehensive legal services.
Why Practice Social Security Law?
Social Security law is an area of law for attorneys who are adept at compiling documents, evaluating medical evidence, and representing their clients at hearings.
Attorneys have the added benefit of helping clients access the resources they need.
Lawyers may live and work anywhere in the United States.
In addition, legal skills are largely transferrable if an attorney wishes to move to a different geographical area in their career.
Furthermore, Social Security lawyers have the opportunity to work for the government as claims examiners or as administrative law judges.
Practicing Law to Benefit Clients Who Apply for Benefits
Lawyers who practice Social Security law help clients compile records and make successful applications for benefits.
They examine why an application has not been successful, and they assist clients with the appeals process.
Lawyers live and work throughout the United States as they help clients receive the benefits that they deserve under the law.