When certain physical and/or mental impairments prevent you from working, filing a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be necessary. These claims can provide essential financial support to disabled individuals who are unable to earn a living.
It’s important to understand, however, that federal SSDI and SSI claims can involve a complicated application process and a surprising amount of bureaucratic red tape. In fact, a majority of disability & SSI claims are denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) the first time they are filed. Commonly, these denials result from technical errors such as incomplete applications or simple mistakes made during the process.
At Finderson Law, our Fort Wayne lawyers are experienced at helping people cut through the red tape and pursue the SSDI and/or SSI benefits they need and deserve. Whether you need help filing for disability or SSI benefits for the first time, or you wish to appeal a denied claim, our attorneys are standing by to help you.
We can explain the process and how to proceed with your claim. We can also handle the claims or appeals process on your behalf while positioning your claim for the maximum available benefits.
What is Social Security?
Social Security is commonly thought of in the context of benefits paid to older Americans upon retirement. However, the reality is that for the last 60 years, it has also provided critical financial benefits to seriously injured workers and their families who have lost their main source of income. Social Security is a federal agency that pays disability benefits through two programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Who Is Eligible for Federal Disability Benefits and/or SSI?
There are different eligibility requirements when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance versus Supplemental Security Income benefits. Having a clear understanding of each program’s eligibility requirements is essential when seeking compensation.
SSDI Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for federal disability benefits, the following conditions must apply:
- The applicant has a qualifying condition that is expected to last at least 1 year or that is fatal.
- The applicant has worked for a sufficient period of time and, consequently, has enough “work credits.”
- The applicant passes the recent work test.
SSI Eligibility Requirements
For SSI, the eligibility requirements include (but may not be limited to):
- The applicant has a disability that prevents him or her from being able to engage in “substantial gainful activity” (i.e., work).
- If younger than 65, the applicant must demonstrate complete disability, as well as financial need.
- If older than 65, complete disability may not be necessary to qualify for benefits. Financial need will, however, still need to be demonstrated.
Can you qualify for both SSDI and SSI?
Yes, it is possible to obtain both federal disability benefits and SSI simultaneously. However, in order to qualify for both SSDI and SSI, it’s crucial to be aware that:
- Additional eligibility requirements may apply.
- Other financial support or benefits that an applicant may be receiving, such as workers’ compensation, can impact awards granted (and potentially your eligibility for benefits).
The Application Process for SSDI & SSI Benefits
The process of applying for disability and/or SSI benefits can vary, depending on whether you are applying for disability benefits, SSI or both. Generally, however, applying for these benefits typically involves (and is not limited to):
- Gathering your personal and medical information, including doctors’ reports or diagnostic test results to establish the presence of a qualifying medical condition.
- Gathering copies of certain financial information, such as tax records and bank statements to verify financial need.
- Undergoing additional medical exams if requested by the SSA.
- Complying with any follow-up requests, such as requests for additional documentation to verify eligibility.
If you live in or near Fort Wayne, then you can choose to fill out an application online at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/, by phone at 1-877-223-6061 or in-person at the local Social Security office. If you decide to visit a Social Security office in-person, be sure to call ahead to schedule an appointment. The Fort Wayne office is located on 2122 Lincolnway Court, on the south side of town near the Airport Expressway.
*Note that Social Security offices may be closed or have reduced hours due to COVID-19. Be sure to call ahead to schedule an appointment.
How an Indiana Disability Attorney Can Help You File a Claim or Appeal
The best lawyer will provide much-needed support and guidance to those who are filing for SSDI or SSI benefits, as well as those who are pursuing appeals. Our Fort Wayne SSDI & SSI attorneys deliver custom, personal representation to fit each client’s unique needs.
While each case is different and your needs may vary, here are some examples of what our lawyers can do for you during the application and/or appeals process:
- Explain your rights clearly
- Complete and submit all necessary paperwork to get your claim started
- Compile all required supporting documentation to establish eligibility
- Represent you in any hearing
- Help position your claim for the maximum available benefits
Social Security Disability Statistics
When you look at the facts and numbers surrounding disability claims in the U.S., it’s clear why so many people seek professional help and guidance from an experienced attorney. For example, disability isn’t only something that impacts older Americans; thousands of young people are seriously injured and permanently disabled each year as a result of tragic accidents. More than 1 in 4 American workers will become disabled before reaching retirement age.
Here are some other sobering statistics from the Social Security Administration (SSA.gov):
- At the beginning of 2019, Social Security paid an average monthly disability benefit of about $1,234 to all disabled workers, just slightly above the poverty level ($12,140 annually in 2018).
- An estimated 9 million Americans are currently getting Social Security disability benefits.
- In 2019, nearly 200,000 Indiana workers received disability benefits. Over 21,000 of those came from Indiana’s 3rd Congressional district, which includes Fort Wayne, Allen County and other communities in Northeast Indiana. Nearly 128,000 Indianans received federally-administered SSI payments and total monthly payments in that same year, and almost 13,000 of those came from the 3rd district.
- Nearly 53 percent of disability claims are denied according to the SSA, though many say this number is even higher—closer to 60 or 70 percent.
- The SSA’s goal time for processing a hearing is 270 days, during which time the individual and their family are left in financial limbo.
- In 2017, only 32 percent of claims were approved. Nearly 40 percent of the denials were due to medical reasons and over 15 percent of denials were because of technical errors.
Indiana Disability Benefits Guide
When it comes to disability compensation, we find that people generally have a lot of questions and misconceptions. Since no two cases are exactly alike, the best way to get accurate information regarding your right to a claim is by consulting with an experienced attorney in your area for advice and recommendations. Here at Finderson Law, your first consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose and much to gain by contacting us.
In the meantime, check back soon as we will be developing the following resources to answer some of the most common and urgent questions regarding Social Security disability benefits:
- What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
- What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
- Why Was My Disability Claim Denied?
- What is Considered a Disability?
- What Information Do I Need to Apply for Disability Assistance?
- When Should You Hire a Disability Attorney?
When to Contact a Fort Wayne Disability Lawyer
Our Fort Wayne disability lawyers are waiting to speak with you about your SSDI or SSI claim. Diligent and dedicated, our attorneys have more than 25 years of experience partnering with clients to help them meet their objectives and exceed their expectations. You can count on us to provide the highest quality representation and personal service for your SSDI and SSI claims.
We’ve helped and satisfied hundreds of clients. Our history of providing the highest quality legal services —and delivering exceptional results—has earned us 5-star ratings on Facebook and Google. From our office in Fort Wayne, we are proud to represent clients throughout Allen County and the state of Indiana.
REVIEWS FROM OUR CLIENTS
Great to work with. Went above and beyond to help us. Very professional and personable. They cared about me and getting done what was needed. Would highly recommend this firm. - D.P.
Always on top of the process and keeps in contact. Communication to me is key regardless if they are making progress or not and they were always answering the phone or returning calls promptly and answering any questions along the way. Top notch and while I hope to never use them again, I highly recommend them. Excellent and phenomenal! - H.H.
Roger went above and beyond for me and got me the results I needed. I'm extremely satisfied with how things turned out! Hopefully, I will not have to visit the office again; but, if I do need a lawyer, I know where to go! - T.