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Social Security Disability

7 Ways to Discover If you Qualify for Disability Benefits in Virginia

Experiencing a serious illness or injury can drastically impact your ability to work, potentially leaving you without a reliable income. One solution to this predicament is applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, many individuals are unaware of the qualifications and the process involved in filing for disability benefits. At Harbison & Kavanagh, our seasoned disability benefits attorneys are dedicated to helping you understand these federal programs and how legal assistance can benefit your case.

Understanding SSDI and SSI Qualification Criteria

Social Security Disability programs differ significantly from other disability benefit programs like VA workers’ compensation or long-term disability insurance. To qualify for SSDI, your application to the SSA must document at least one serious physical or mental condition that meets specific criteria:

  • Significantly impacts daily living activities or basic work functions
  • Persists for at least one year or is expected to result in death
  • Prevents gainful employment and earning a substantial income for a minimum of one year

Applicants who are disabled but still capable of working, or whose conditions do not last a full year, will not qualify for SSDI benefits.

Specific Conditions and Their Impact on SSDI Eligibility

Certain conditions are commonly recognized for SSDI eligibility. These include severe mental health disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or ALS, and chronic illnesses like cancer or severe respiratory disorders. It is crucial to have detailed medical records that clearly demonstrate how these conditions severely limit your ability to work and perform everyday tasks.

The Application Process for Disability Benefits

Filing an SSDI claim can be done by phone, in person, or online, but it is highly advisable to seek assistance from an experienced disability benefits attorney. Once your application is submitted, it is reviewed by the Disability Determinations Services (DDS), where it is assigned to a disability examiner. The examiner will request your medical records from the listed treatment centers and may require an additional medical examination to assess your current condition.

The examiner evaluates whether you can perform substantial work activities. If it is determined that you can perform any of your previous work or any other substantial employment, your application will be denied.

Detailed Steps in the Application Process

  1. Initial Application Submission: This involves completing forms and providing medical evidence to support your claim. Be thorough and precise in detailing your condition and its impact on your life.
  2. Medical Records Review: The DDS examiner reviews all submitted medical records. Ensuring these records are comprehensive and up-to-date is critical.
  3. Additional Medical Examination: If the initial records are insufficient, you may be required to undergo a consultative examination arranged by DDS.
  4. Final Decision: Based on the evidence, the examiner decides if you qualify for benefits.

Approval Rates and Appeals

In Virginia, only 36% of initial SSDI claims are approved, while 64% are denied. If your application is denied, you can file a Request for Reconsideration Appeal, where a different examiner will reassess your file. Approximately 14% of reconsideration appeals are successful. Further appeals necessitate disability hearings, where having an experienced attorney can be crucial in presenting a strong case for your entitlement to SSDI benefits.

Importance of Legal Representation in Appeals

Navigating the appeals process can be challenging without proper legal representation. Attorneys experienced in disability law can provide invaluable assistance, from gathering additional medical evidence to representing you at hearings. Their expertise can significantly improve your chances of a successful appeal.

Contact Us for Assistance

For expert guidance and support, contact Harbison & Kavanagh today. Our knowledgeable attorneys are dedicated to helping you navigate the Social Security Disability system and secure the benefits you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys by visiting our contact page.

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