For over a decade, the disability lawyers here at Ascend Disability Lawyer, LLC in New Orleans have been helping Louisiana citizens obtain their Social Security disability benefits. Over the years, we have we have encountered a lot of confusion from our clients and from those seeking to apply for benefits. In this article, we thought it might be useful to provide a quick list of myths and facts about disability benefits and the application process. If you think you are eligible for SSDI benefits, contact our office for help and advice. Consider us your New Orleans SSDI attorney.
Myth: I Am Eligible for Disability If Lose My Job Because of a Disease/illness
This is one of the more common myths. A New Orleans resident is not eligible if they lose their job because of a disease or medical condition. Rather disability benefits are ONLY available if you cannot do ANY job, not just the job that you currently have or your most recent job. Also, remember that SSDI is for long-term and permanent disability. “Long-term” is generally defined as a disability that is expected to last longer than 12 months.
Myth: I Am Disabled So I Am Eligible
This is a myth because disability by itself does not qualify you for SSDI. SSDI is run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and SSDI is provided for workers who have paid into the system through their employment tax withholdings. To be eligible, you need to have earned at least 40 “work credits” over the previous 10 years. Work credits are assigned based on earning at least $1,250 in a three-month period, and a worker can earn four work credits per year. Absent some very rare circumstances, if you do not have enough work credits, you are not eligible for SSDI. However, you might be eligible for other government assistance.
Myth: My Doctor Says I Am Disabled So I Will Be Approved
This is mostly a myth since decisions with respect to awarding SSDI benefits are made by officials in the SSA, not your doctor. We say “mostly” a myth because your doctor’s diagnosis is very important and helpful. In fact, your doctor’s diagnosis, medical reports, test results, lab work, examinations, and other health records are an integral part of any application for SSDI. But, most often the SSA will require an independent medical examination (IME) done by a physician who is not your doctor. The SSA gives a great deal of weight to that IME. What your doctor has to say is important, but not necessarily determinative of approval. The opposite is likely to be a fact: if your doctor says you are NOT disabled, then, almost certainly, you will be denied.
Myth: SSDI Will Pay All My Bills
This is a myth. SSDI is not there to replace all the income that you were making before you became disabled. The exact amount of your benefits is a function of your income prior to becoming disabled. Thus, the dollar amount is unique for each person. Recent statistics show the average payment for 2018 was about $1,200; the maximum allowable benefit for 2018 was $2,788. Remember too that SSDI payments do not begin immediately even if you are approved.
Alternative Myths: Everyone Gets Denied or Getting Approved Is Easy
Both of these are myths. The SSA approves tens of thousands of applications every year. According to 2016 statistics, the success rate was about 47 percent. See the news report about the disability costs being lower than projected here. The key to success is completing the application properly and fully document the medical conditions and the work limitations.
But, at the same time, the denial rate is about 53 percent. Thus it is not true that getting approved is easy. The application process is complicated, takes keen attention to detail, and, often, the process takes a long time.
Myth: I Can Only Get SSDI Benefits If I Hire a New Orleans SSDI Attorney
This is a myth. Even though the application process is complicated, many people successfully apply for SSDI without a lawyer. That being said…
Fact: Having a Lawyer Significantly Improves Your Chances of Being Approved
Having a good New Orleans SSDI attorney can significantly improve your chances of success. First, a good lawyer helps with deadlines and with getting the proper documentation. Two of the most common reasons for being denied is a failure to meet deadlines and lack of complete paperwork. Your trusted lawyers can help with both. Once you have a lawyer in place, the SSA puts your lawyer on the list for various notices. So if you get along, complicated letter from the SSA, then your lawyer gets the same letter. If the letter has a deadline, your lawyer can help make sure the deadline is met. If the letter asks for documentation, your lawyer can help gather whatever is being requested.
Second, a good New Orleans SSDI attorney can help identify all the diseases and medical conditions and can help “frame” the case for best presentation. The application process requires that all medical conditions be identified at the start of the process and also how those illnesses/medical conditions relate to your inability to work. An experienced lawyer will review your work and medical records and properly identify all medical issues and link those to your work limitations. In a similar manner, if there are “gaps” in the documentation, your lawyer can suggest an action plan to fill those gaps. For example, maybe your application is missing an evaluation from your doctor concerning your work limitations. If so, your attorney can help get that scheduled before you apply or early in the process.
Third, in general, a proven New Orleans SSDI attorney can help you manage the “headaches” and “hassles.” The application process can be stressful; you do not have to carry the load by yourself.
Myth: If I Am Denied, Nothing Can Be Done
This is a myth. If you are denied benefits, there are several options, including asking for a reconsideration, taking an appeal to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the SSA, filing an appeal with a federal court and, eventually, starting over again. Of course, it is important to evaluate why the SSA denied your claim. Each claim and situation is unique, so if the reason for denial relates to an incomplete application, then it might be better to start over or explore methods of supplementing the application.
New Orleans SSDI Attorney: Contact Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC Today
When you are seeking SSDI benefits, you need trusted legal advocates and advisers. We here at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC are proven and can help. We have extensive experience helping Louisiana citizens apply for SSDI when they are unable to work because of some medical condition or illness. Contact our office today via email or by calling (855) 631-2544.