You put money into the Social Security system your entire working life in expectation that it will be there when you retire or if you become disabled. But if you’ve become disabled and can no longer work, accessing Social Security disability benefits can be more difficult than you think. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies as many as two-thirds of all first-time applications for disability benefits. Peter Cordovano is an experienced Social Security Disability attorney who can help you get the benefits you are entitled to, as he has for countless others through many decades of practicing disability law in New York’s Hudson Valley.
As the name implies, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) is an insurance-based system. You are not eligible to receive SSD unless you have contributed to the system through FICA withholdings from your paychecks. When you have a work history, getting your disability benefits should be a simple matter of filing a claim with the SSA acting as your insurance company. Unfortunately, the SSA applies very strict definitions and a rigorous eligibility process to keep payouts to a minimum.
To qualify for SSD, you have to go through a laborious five-step process in which the SSA evaluates your age, education, work history, skills, and physical and mental condition to determine whether you are eligible for benefits. The SSA scrutinizes your work history to determine the total amount of time you have worked and whether you worked in five of the past ten years to accumulate the required number of work credits. Additionally, you must be able to demonstrate that:
If the SSA denies your claim for benefits, you do have options, including a request for reconsideration, appeals council review, and civil litigation in federal court.
Many Americans who suffer a permanent disability do so at work and are covered by workers’ compensation. So, what happens to your SSD benefits when you have a workers’ comp disability settlement? Generally speaking, workers’ comp benefits replace two-thirds of a worker’s lost earnings. That leaves a deficit of about 34 percent, which can cause great financial hardship to the disabled worker and his or her family. Ideally, SSD would pick up the slack by paying the additional amount so the worker could receive 100 percent wage replacement, but that’s not how the system works.
The total of workers’ comp wage replacement and SSD benefits cannot exceed 80 percent of a disabled worker’s income prior to disability. That means the SSA will reduce your SSD benefit payments based on your workers’ comp benefits. If you have a workers’ comp settlement, it’s important to consult an experienced benefits attorney to make sure you still get the maximum amount of SSD allowable.
After an initial rejection of their SSD claim, many people simply give up trying to get the benefits they need. They don’t know how to appeal a denial, or they can’t face the daunting and frustrating process. Fortunately, Peter M. Cordovano, P.C. has the knowledge and experience to manage SSD appeals successfully. Call today at 845-834-8234 or contact my Highland office online to schedule a free consultation.