Belle Vernon represents the quintessential small town in Pennsylvania. The residents are modest and work hard to put roofs over their heads and food in their families’ bellies, and the thought of being unable to work can be extremely frightening. The only saving grace is that most workers in the U.S. who become disabled are covered by the federal insurance program known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
What Is SSDI?
SSDI is a federal insurance policy for U.S. workers who become physically or mentally disabled and are no longer able to earn a living. In order to qualify, applicants must meet two primary prerequisites:
1. The person must have a disabling injury, illness or medical condition. For purposes of determining eligibility, the Social Security Administration states that a person is disabled if he or she suffers from a physical or psychological impairment that is expected to continue for one year or result in death. The impairment must also prevent the person from earning more than $1,130 per month through substantial gainful activity (SGA). This amount changes annually and increases for the blind.
2. The person must have worked a minimum number of years within a specific timeframe. The minimum amount of time a person must work to qualify for SSDI depends on his or her age at the date of disability. Someone who is 28 or younger must have worked for only 18 months while someone who is 50 is required to have worked for seven years to be eligible.
In addition, a certain amount of this work must have been performed recently. For those under 24 years of age, 18 months of work must have been completed within the last three years, adults from 24 to 31 years of age must have worked at least half the time since they turned 21 and those 31 or older must have worked five of the last 10 years.
If you apply for SSDI and are approved, you must then remain disabled for five complete months before receiving benefits. The exact amount of this monthly benefit is a percentage of your average annual income ranging from 28 percent to 60 percent up to the maximum annual benefit of $32,040.
Social Security Disability in Belle Vernon, PA
The biggest problem with SSDI is the time it takes for an application to be reviewed and either approved or denied. While waiting, disabled workers in Belle Vernon must still be able to support themselves and their families without any income from work. To make matters worse, minor errors in the application or missed due dates can cause the process to last even longer, and nearly 70 percent of SSDI applicants discover they have been denied. Once denied, you have 60 days to ask for reconsideration, which may potentially be a four-step process that goes through an administrative law judge, an appeals council and a federal court.
The complexity of the SSDI application process has led many people in Belle Vernon to hire respectable lawyers experienced in disability law.
Getting Help From an Attorney
A reliable attorney can assist SSDI applicants in a number of important ways. He or she already knows how to complete the application and understands what sort of documentation must accompany it to increase the chances of approval. If your case is in the majority and has been denied, you will most likely have to go to a formal hearing, and having legal representation at that point will not only take the workload off your back but also help you keep calm in what is likely a very stressful situation.
For further information on how a Belle Vernon SSDI attorney can help you with your disability case, contact us today for a free consultation.