Have you been injured or become disabled in the Bronx? Have you been forced to file for Social Security Disability Insurance to make ends meet? If you’re unable to work due to injury or disability and need assistance, the federal government allows you to apply for funding from the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. This program pays benefits to people with disabilities or injuries that render them unable to work.
The Bronx disability attorneys of Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. specialize in assisting their clients with applying for SSDI, appealing any denial of benefits, or filing suit to receive SSDI payments. We can walk you through the entire process and make sure it’s done right the first time, so you get the help you need, fast. Call Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. today at 516-496-0400 for a free consultation, and see how we can help you get your SSDI approval today.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
The SSDI program is only available to people who have met the “years worked” or work credits requirement and have paid into their Social Security fund with taxes taken from their regular paycheck. Anyone can apply at the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, by phone, or by visiting their local Bronx Social Security Office, but the process can be difficult.
According to the SSA, in 2018, 45% of applicants were denied SSDI benefits on a technicality, such as incorrectly entered or missing information on the application. A denial means the application has to be resubmitted, and the waiting begins all over again.
By retaining an attorney with experience in dealing with the SSDI application and appeals process, you can increase your chances of getting your benefits quickly. Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. has over four decades of experience with helping people just like you get their benefits and get their lives back on track.
Reasons for Denial of SSDI Benefits in the Bronx
When you apply for SSDI benefits, you’re required to go through a lengthy application process. This can be completed online, in a Bronx Social Security office, or by telephone. The SSA will ask you for information regarding your work history, details about your injury or disability, details about your family, your medical history, whether you’ve served in the military, and your doctor’s information.
If you don’t fill out the application correctly or don’t provide the required information, your application will be denied, and you’ll be asked to resubmit after gathering the missing information or correcting errors. This can be a time-consuming process. Even if the application is submitted correctly the first time, you may still have to wait months before receiving benefits because the program only begins paying benefits six months after your disability begins.
Reasons for denying SSDI benefits include the following:
- You earn too much money. The SSA has a threshold above which you cannot claim SSDI. That means that if you’re still able to earn a certain amount of money even after you’ve become disabled, you cannot claim benefits. This amount changes yearly.
- Your disability isn’t severe enough. Your disability must be on the approved list of qualified impairments from the SSA. If it is not, you can be denied benefits.
- Lack of medical evidence. If you don’t have a medical report showing you are disabled for more than 12 months and can’t return to work, your claim can be denied.
- Incomplete claim forms. If you don’t fill out the required claim forms correctly, your claim can be denied, and the process will start all over again.
- Refusal to cooperate. After submitting your application and medical records, the SSA may request that you be re-evaluated by another physician. This is called a Consultative Examination. If you refuse to be examined or can’t get to your CE, your claim can be denied.
These are just a few of the reasons the SSA might deny an SSDI claim. This is why it’s important to have an experienced attorney by your side to help you through the process, even before the application is submitted.
Even if you are approved for SSDI benefits and start receiving checks, the SSA continues to review cases periodically to determine if the claimant still meets the requirements. This is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR). If, after a CDR, the SSA finds that you no longer meet the requirements for SSDI benefits, they can revoke your status and stop payments.
You can appeal this decision by requesting a hearing with a Disability Hearing Officer at the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The Hearing Officer will review your medical condition or disability, look at the reasoning behind why the SSA stopped your benefits, and determine whether you still meet the requirements for SSDI.
Appealing an SSDI Denial in the Bronx
If you’ve been denied benefits due to a technicality or for medical reasons on an initial application, you have options for appealing the decision. The SSA has a process whereby you can have your case reviewed to see if the denial is in accordance with SSDI rules and regulations. The appeal must be filed with the SSA within 60 days of receiving your denial. The appeals process can be lengthy and should be handled with the help of a lawyer familiar with the ins and outs of SSDI.
The process includes the following four steps:
- Reconsideration. You can request that your application be reviewed by someone not involved in the initial denial. They will look at your medical records, disability information, and original application to check for errors. This process can take up to six months, and according to statistics from the SSA, only two percent of denials are reversed at this stage. If the SSA upholds the denial for any reason, you must move to the next step.
- Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. You can request a hearing before a judge not involved in the initial review of your claim to verify that the denial was made in accordance with SSA laws. This can be done in person or via remote attendance and can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to complete. An administrative law judge also has the option of denying a hearing outright based on the circumstances of the initial denial of benefits. The SSA states that the percentage of claim denials reversed at this stage is around nine percent.
- Appeals Council Review. If, after a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge, your denial is upheld or the judge refuses to hear your case, you have the option to have your denial reviewed by a special group within the SSA called the Appeals Council. This appeals process is begun by submitting an application online, visiting your local Bronx Social Security Office, or over the telephone. The SSA provides information on what details and information you’ll need to apply for a review by the Appeals Council.
- Filing suit. If you disagree with the findings of the Appeals Council, your final option to get your SSDI benefits is to file suit in federal district court. If your claim makes it this far, a federal judge will review it for legal or factual errors. The judge has the option to send your claim back to the administrative law judge for review, reverse the decision by the ALJ or Appeals Council, or uphold the denial. Although it is possible to complete this process on your own, suing the SSA is not a simple or quick process and can involve paying court fees and gathering additional information to try to support your claim.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here at Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C., we regularly pursue SSDI and SSI benefits for our clients. Often, the same questions arise. We’ve answered some of these questions here. If you don’t find the question you need to have answered, contact us at 516-496-0400. We can set up a free consultation to get you started and to answer your questions.
What’s the difference between SSDI and SSI?
SSDI is awarded based on a qualifying disability and number of work credits. You typically must have worked a certain number of years to be eligible. SSI is need-based, and benefits are awarded based on age, disability, and limited income and/or resources.
How much does SSDI pay per month?
The benefit amount varies depending on your disability, your number of work credits, and other sources of income, like worker’s compensation, a pension, or other government programs. If you receive income from multiple government-sponsored programs, your SSDI benefits may be reduced.
How old do I need to be to claim SSDI benefits?
Typically you must have reached a certain age and worked a certain number of years before you’re able to apply for SSDI, though there are exceptions. The SSA bases its decisions regarding SSDI on work credits rather than age and will usually only approve people that have worked during ten of the last twenty years.
Get the Help You Need for Your SSDI Application
If you’ve been injured or disabled in the Bronx and are unable to work, the last thing on your mind is finding the right lawyer. Fusco, Brandenstein & Rada, P.C. is standing by to assist you with your SSDI claim, from application to approval. For over forty years, we’ve helped dozens of people with disabilities navigate the complex legal pitfalls and problems associated with applying for SSDI.
Call us today at 516-496-0400 for a free consultation, and let us show you how we can help you do the same.