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Social Security Disability - An Overview

If your application for Social Security Disability benefits has been denied, you have the right to appeal. An attorney can assist you in the appeals process. To find out how our firm can help, contact us to schedule a consultation and case evaluation with a Social Security Disability attorney.

Learn More About Social Security Disability Claims

Are you disabled and unable to perform your job duties? At the Law Office of Mark A. Skelton, we help people with all aspects of Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income claims and appeals. We offer personal, hands-on attention from an experienced attorney who has been handling Social Security disability cases since 1983. Our friendly staff includes a registered nurse who is well-versed in the intricate medical details involved in disability claims. We serve clients from throughout the East Tennessee region.

To learn more about SSDI and SSI claims, please review the information provided below or visit our Social Security disability practice area page.

To schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer, contact us today online or by telephone at 888-899-5564.

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Has your SSDI claim been denied? We can help you file an appeal that gives you the best possible chance at success. We understand the Social Security disability benefits process, and we are prepared to help.

You may feel disabled, but does the Social Security Administration consider you disabled? Visit our "Am I Eligible?" page for some general information, then contact our Rogersville office to discuss the matter with a knowledgeable SSDI lawyer.

Social Security Disability - An Overview

If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits, or if you are in the midst of appealing a denial of benefits, it is important to understand the Social Security Administration's approval process. In addition to meeting the definition of "disabled" and fulfilling the earnings requirements that the Social Security Administration dictates, you must present a convincing and organized claim. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney from Mark Albert Skelton, Attorney at Law in Rogersville, Tennessee, can offer insight and guidance in your pursuit of benefits.

Disability

An impairment that qualifies as a disability under Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines must be quite serious. The impairment must render the applicant unable to perform any substantial gainful activity — that is, the applicant must not be able to earn more than a minimum amount of money, determined each year by the SSA.

The impairment must completely disable the applicant from working. It must be expected to last for a year, have already lasted a year or be expected to cause the applicant's death. But this is not the end of the qualifying tests.

Earnings Tests

The Social Security Administration also requires the applicant to have a sufficient work history to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Based upon the applicant's age, he or she must have worked for a specified number of years. The applicant also must have worked at least some of those years recently. This is because Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are "earned" with the contributions applicants have made through their Social Security taxes. Some blind applicants do not need to meet the recent work test.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on the other hand, is a needs-based program that helps disabled people with low income and few resources.

The Decision Process

Following the receipt of the application, a federal Social Security Administration representative will review the information. If the representative is satisfied that the application meets certain basic criteria, the application and evidentiary materials will be forwarded to a state agency that is charged with making a decision regarding the disability benefits application. The state agency may develop the file further by gathering more medical or vocational evidence.

Social Security uses a five-step process to determine whether the applicant should receive benefits, asking:

  • Whether the applicant is working
  • Whether the medical condition is severe enough to render the applicant disabled
  • Whether the impairment is on a government list of impairments granting automatic disability status (if the impairment is not on the list, that does not necessarily disqualify the applicant)
  • Whether the applicant can do the work he or she did before
  • What other types of work the applicant can to do

The state agency will return the file to the federal Social Security Administration with its recommendation. The SSA almost always adopts the state agency's disability determination.

After considering all other eligibility questions, the SSA will mail the applicant a notice of its decision.

Appeals

The applicant has the right to appeal the decision. The first appeal is a reconsideration of the initial denial, typically a review by a new person of the written evidence and any additional evidence. Under a pilot program in some states, including Missouri, the reconsideration step has been eliminated and applicants go right from an initial denial to a hearing with an administrative law judge. After reconsideration, the next appeal goes to an administrative law judge for a hearing. Following this stage, the applicant has a right to appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. Finally, the applicant may appeal to the federal courts. An attorney can offer valuable assistance in the appeals process.

Speak with an Attorney

Each step of the Social Security Disability benefits application process can be time consuming and complex. An attorney from Mark Albert Skelton, Attorney at Law in Rogersville, Tennessee, can answer your questions and help you through the qualification and appeals process.

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DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.

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Law Office of Mark A. Skelton
121 South Depot Street
Rogersville, TN 37857

Phone: 423-546-0118
Toll Free: 888-899-5564
Fax: 423-272-0712
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