Social Security Disability Lawyer in New Orleans, LA
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) offers much-needed financial relief to thousands of disabled Americans. If you cannot work because of an illness or injury and expect to be unable to return to work for at least a year, you may qualify for SSDI benefits.
Our SSDI lawyers in New Orleans can help you understand your eligibility, compile and review the evidence you need to prove your case, and submit your application for benefits. If you already applied and the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your application, we can help you navigate the appeals process and secure the benefits for which you qualify. Call us today at 855-445-9787 to set up a consultation.
Do I qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance?
There are strict criteria that applicants must meet to qualify for SSDI. As such, our lawyers develop the case to ensure that you meet these criteria, which include:
- Sufficient Social Security work credits based on your age;
- Proof you are not performing “substantial gainful activity,” defined in 2017 as making more than $1,170 per month for most applicants; and
- A documented medical condition that seriously impairs your ability to work. SSDI does not offer any short-term disability benefits or benefits for partial disability.
Proving that your medical condition meets the SSA’s definition of “disabled” can be the most challenging aspect of a case, so this is where we devote a good deal of our resources when representing clients. Essentially, your claim must present evidence that proves you meet the criteria for at least one of the disabilities in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, or otherwise prove you are unable to work. For some individuals who are over 50, they must simply prove that they have significant limitations that prevent them from performing their past work.
What health conditions qualify for SSDI?
The SSA publishes its Listing of Impairments outlining the health conditions that qualify for Social Security disability. The Listing includes the criteria applicants must meet for each condition. (There is a separate set of impairment listings for those under age 18.) The Listing breaks down qualifying conditions into these broad categories:
- Musculoskeletal System
- Special Senses and Speech
- Respiratory Disorders
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Genitourinary Disorders
- Hematologist Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
- Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
- Immune System Disorders
It is up to the applicant – and us if you hire our SSDI attorney – to prove qualification based on the specific criteria corresponding to your health condition.
Can I still qualify for SSDI if I do not meet the criteria in the Listing of Impairments?
Yes, you can still qualify for SSDI benefits even if you do not meet the criteria for any of the conditions from the Listing of Impairments. You may still qualify based on your residual functional capacity (RFC).
Your RFC is a measure of how your condition limits your ability to do basic tasks necessary to work, such as sitting, standing, walking, and lifting. The SSA determines your RFC by reviewing documentation provided by your doctor and/or based on a consultative exam with an SSA doctor.
Many people stress about the consultative exam, but it is important you attend and do your best to follow all instructions during the exam. The doctor examines you and tests your limitations to determine your RFC. Some of this testing will vary based on your health condition.
If you have any questions about the consultative exam or the results from it, please consult our disability lawyers.
How do I prove my disability meets the SSA’s criteria?
The key to getting SSDI benefits is ensuring your medical records prove the nature and extent of your impairment. Collecting, reviewing, and compiling medical evidence will form the basis of our services to you, as it forms the basis of the SSA’s decision on your claim.
To ensure you submit a complete case or to respond to the disability examiner’s requests for additional information, our social security disability lawyers build a complete, well-documented case. While every application requires different documentation, some of the common medical evidence we help compile for the SSA includes:
- Your medical records from your doctor
- Any reports pertaining to hospitalizations or treatments
- MRIs, CAT scans and/or X-rays
- Pathology results or other clinical testing reports
How do I apply for SSDI in New Orleans?
Contact us to set up a free consultation. We will review your case and identify gaps in your application so we can get the proper documentation.
There is no law that says you have to hire a lawyer, but when you hire our SSDI lawyer they review your application, make sure you have complete medical records, and handle any requests or obstacles from the SSA, thus helping you avoid pitfalls that can delay your claim.
What happens after I file my claim for SSDI?
After you file your application for SSDI, it goes into review at the local field office. There, they verify your basic information, as well as check your work history and work credits. If you meet these qualifications, they forward your application to Louisiana’s Disability Determination Services.
Disability Determination Services (DDS) reviews your medical conditions and assesses the severity of your disability. DDS does this by reviewing any documentation you submitted, contacting your doctors for additional information, and scheduling a consultative examination, if necessary.
This process can take as little as three weeks for those with a terminal illness or who qualify for one of the SSA’s fast track programs. For most applicants, however, the wait is longer. The average processing time of an initial application is between four and six months. And if your application is incomplete, DDS may request additional information, which can delay your application even more. Thus, we recommend working with a lawyer who can ensure your claim is complete and effectively demonstrates your qualification for SSDI benefits.
Why did Social Security deny my SSDI claim?
Some common reasons the SSA may deny your claim include:
You failed to complete the application.
When filing your SSDI application, it is imperative that you answer every question. We also recommend working with our firm to ensure your application is complete. Overlooked or blank answers can lead to a letter of denial, and force you into the appeals process.
Your impairment is not well-documented.
There is no doubt that the most difficult part of qualifying for SSDI benefits is submitting the right documentation to prove you meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled.” This is why we encourage you to schedule a review with one of our SSDI lawyers in New Orleans before you apply.
You did not prepare your claim adequately.
Compiling all information and documentation before applying is necessary to build a successful claim, but it is a step that many applicants skip. We understand the urge to fast-track the claim to get benefits as soon as possible, but if you do not put enough care and attention into your application, you may be more likely to face a delay and/or denial.
You were not specific about your condition.
Your application requires you to answer questions about your symptoms and how your impairment affects your life and causes limitations. If you do not give detailed answers to these questions, the SSA may not have the information it needs to approve your claim.
The good news is that we can help you overcome these common reasons for denial if you involve us in your case prior to submitting your claim. But if you receive a denial and believe you qualify for disability benefits, give us a call or complete our claim evaluation form. Our SSDI attorney can help you with the appeals process even if we did not help you prepare your initial application.
What can I expect during the SSDI appeals process?
Unfortunately, many people who apply for social security disability benefits later find themselves asking about the appeals process. Fortunately, when navigated appropriately, many SSDI applicants find they can satisfactorily resolve their claim and collect benefits. Our SSDI attorney will make sure you meet deadlines, adequately address the SSA’s reason for denying your claim, and provide all documents and evidence the SSA requests to complete your claim.
Here is a general overview of what to expect if you appeal your claim denial:
- Once you receive an official denial letter from the SSA, applicants in most states have 60 days to file a request for reconsideration. During reconsideration, another DDS representative will review the claim and decide if the original representative erred in denying the claim. But in Louisiana, we skip this step and go right to the next.
- We will request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). At this administrative hearing, we may present additional support for your application and request approval from the ALJ. We find that this is where most of our qualified clients are approved.
- If a judge denies your claim, we can continue to fight for your benefits with the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council reviews the ALJ’s decision to decide if he or she made a serious mistake.
- If still unsuccessful at the Appeals Council level, we may file suit in federal court to continue fighting for approval, though these are usually complex cases.
Do I qualify for back pay or retroactive benefits?
If the SSA approves your claim, you may be eligible for back pay that covers the time that you became disabled and the date you begin receiving benefits, minus the five-month waiting period for social security benefits. This back pay comes as a lump sum, and you can expect to receive it two to four months after your first monthly benefits.
You can receive up to 12 months of retroactive pay.
Our SSDI lawyers will discuss back pay and retroactive benefits with you when we are helping you estimate your monthly benefit. And when the time comes for the SSA to pay your back pay or retroactive benefits, we will address any obstacles and ensure you receive all the benefits you deserve.
Do I have to work with a New Orleans SSDI lawyer?
While there is no legal requirement that you have an SSDI lawyer to apply for social security disability, we recommend working with a lawyer who is familiar with the social security disability application process, eligibility criteria, evidence requirements, and the appeals process. Our experience at Ascend Disability Lawyers equips us to help disabled individuals fight for the benefits they deserve.
There are two ways we help SSDI applicants get disability benefits:
- We offer claim reviews to ensure your application, medical records, and other supporting documentation is in order before you file. Our social security disability lawyers know what triggers the SSA to deny an SSDI claim and help you build your claim to avoid common pitfalls that lead to delays and denials. We cannot guarantee approval, but we can ensure your claim thoroughly documents your disability and your application is complete.
- If the SSA denied your claim, we can help you navigate the appeals process, from identifying the reason the SSA denied your claim to representing you at your ALJ hearing. Our SSDI lawyer in New Orleans can represent you in the appeals process even if we did not help with your initial claim. It is important to contact us as soon as possible after you received the denial letter to ensure you meet all deadline requirements.
If you have questions about your SSDI qualifications, need help meeting evidence requirements or filing your initial application, or received a denial, call us today at 855-445-9787. Our NOLA social security disability lawyers offer services on a contingency basis, meaning you do not owe us anything unless you receive benefits.