Social Security benefits are a government-provided safety net for individuals who can’t work due to a disability or medical condition. Unfortunately, landing safely and securely in this “safety net” isn’t always easy. It can be challenging trying to navigate through the government’s many rules and regulations for applying for these benefits, let alone determining which programs are right for you.
At Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C., we understand the difficulties that people face when they first begin trying to apply for Social Security disability benefits. The process is long, challenging, and can be extremely overwhelming. The Manhattan disability lawyers at Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. can help ease your burden by narrowing down which benefits may be right for you and helping you build an application that gives you the best possible chance of a favorable outcome.
Want help applying for the benefits you deserve? Talk to the experienced team at Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C.. Contact us today at 516-496-0400 for a free consultation, and let us answer your questions about Social Security disability benefits.
Which Social Security Benefits Are Right for Me?
The first hurdle to overcome when applying for Social Security benefits is determining which benefits are right for you. There are a variety of benefit programs offered by the Social Security Administration, and each program caters to individuals with different needs and qualifications. Taking the time to learn about the specifics of each program can help you narrow down and identify which benefits you may qualify for.
There are two distinctly different types of Social Security disability programs available, they are Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI, and Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI. These programs both cater to disabled individuals, but the qualifications for each program vary drastically from one another. In some situations, an individual may qualify to receive benefits from both programs, but it depends on their work history and current financial situation.
Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, is a benefits program that operates much like an insurance policy, hence the term “disability insurance.” It is a program that is only funded through FICA Social Security tax deductions that come out of an employee’s paycheck each pay cycle. Since those who work are the ones that pay into the system, in order to be eligible for this benefit, you must have a qualifying work history. This includes a history of paying Social Security taxes.
In addition, you must have been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition that is expected to last for at least 12 months or will result in your death. The amount of money that you may be able to receive from this benefit will typically depend on your lifetime earnings. Successful SSDI claims are not paid out immediately. They begin six months from the onset date of the disabling condition.
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a Social Security benefits program that caters to individuals with limited resources and income. It is a needs-based program that is funded through general taxes and then distributed to those that meet the medical and income requirements. SSI benefits may be available for those who are 65 and older, even without disabilities, if they meet the financial requirements. The benefits may also be available for adults and children who meet both the medical and income requirements. The amount of your monthly benefit is typically based on your income level and available resources.
Common Qualifying Disabilities for Benefits
The term “disability” has a very narrow meaning when it comes to applying for Social Security benefits. Social Security benefits are only distributed to individuals who qualify as being “totally” disabled. Individuals with partial or short-term disabilities generally do not qualify for Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration has strict guidelines that they use when trying to determine whether an individual has a disability and that disability entitles them to benefits. These guidelines include:
- Being unable to perform the same work you did previously due to your medical condition
- Being unable to do other types of work because of your medical condition
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or will eventually result in your death
All three of these stipulations must be true in order to proceed with a successful Social Security benefits claim. In addition to these factors being present, most individuals will also have to demonstrate that they have a medical condition that renders them disabled. The Social Security Administration provides individuals with an extensive list of conditions that they consider disabling. The list is organized by category and outlines which diseases and conditions qualify as disabling under each heading. Some of the most common conditions that may qualify an individual for Social Security benefits include:
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
- Cardiovascular conditions like chronic heart failure, aortic aneurysms, and recurrent arrhythmias
- Respiratory illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and chronic pulmonary hypertension
- Immune system diseases such as lupus and scleroderma
- Digestive conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease
- Genitourinary disorders like chronic kidney disease and nephrotic syndrome
- Neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis
- Mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and certain autism spectrum disorders
There are a variety of other conditions that may also qualify you for benefits through the Social Security system. If you have questions about whether your condition makes you eligible to apply for benefits, talk to an experienced attorney with Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C.. We can review your situation, help you narrow down the benefits that are right for you, and help you through the application process.
The Application Process
Understanding which benefits you qualify for is only half the battle. The real challenge is applying for those benefits. The application process can be lengthy and overwhelming. The Social Security Administration is looking for incredibly detailed and accurate information from individuals applying for benefits. This includes more than just your name and a description of your medical condition. In order to submit an application for Social Security benefits, be sure that you are prepared with the following:
- Social Security number
- Proof of your age
- Medical records and notes from all doctors, hospitals, clinics, therapists, and caseworkers
- The names, addresses, and phone numbers of all doctors, hospitals, clinics, caseworkers, and testing facilities, that you have visited in relation to your diagnosis and treatment
- A list of all medications that you take, including correct names and dosages
- Laboratory test results
- A summary of your employment history
- Your most recent W-2 and tax forms
For a number of people, the work involved in tracking down all this information can be exhausting and time-consuming. It can be easy to overlook one piece of information or neglect to include a certain medical document when compiling an application with this much information. Unfortunately, just one mistake or missing piece of information can result in a denial.
In addition to the application itself and the subsequent medical documentation that needs to be attached, you may be asked to provide other forms of eligibility paperwork and information validating your identity. These items may include things like:
- Birth certificate
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
- Military paperwork
- Additional medical documentation related to the disability
- Income and resources documentation such as workers’ compensation paperwork, pay stubs, settlement agreements, and pension documents
With this information in hand, you are finally able to begin the process of filling out your application. The application can be complicated online by visiting the Social Security Administration’s website, or individuals may file an application in person at any New York Social Security field office.
Why You Need an Experienced NYC Social Security Attorney
Missing information, forgetting to attach certain medical documentation, or not being accurate enough with details can derail a Social Security benefits claims. Unfortunately, many initial benefits claims are denied, leaving applicants scrambling to try to file an appeal. This is why it is so important to contact an experienced Social Security disability benefits attorney to help you with your submission.
At Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C., we know what the government is looking for when it comes to applications. We help individuals determine which benefits they may qualify for and then guide them through the application process from start to finish. That means helping them gather the necessary medical documentation, securing the proper paperwork, and filling out the application as accurately and as in as much detail as possible. We want to give claimants the best chance possible at securing a positive outcome.
What if your claim gets denied or you have had issues with denials in the past? At Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C., we can help you with those issues as well. Our seasoned attorneys can identify the possible hurdles to your claim and then help you navigate the complex appeals process.
You don’t have to go up against the government alone. Let the team at Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. help you go after the benefits that you deserve.
Contact an Attorney with Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. for Help Today
Ready to apply for Social Security benefits but don’t know where to begin? Start with a phone call to the New York office of Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C.. Our compassionate and knowledgeable attorneys are ready to help you file a Social Security disability claim and guide you through the application process. We can also help individuals who have received a denial and want to file an appeal.
Contact Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. today, and let’s talk about how we can help you get the benefits you deserve. We even offer a free consultation to answer your disability questions and help get you started. Call us at 516-496-0400 today.