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Qualifying for Social Security Disability in Tennessee

More than 65 million Americans receive monthly Social Security benefits. The payments are intended to replace a portion of your earnings when you retire, become disabled or die. They are also available as compensation for illness or personal injury. If you are unable to work because of a physical or mental condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Obtaining these benefits is a complex process that can involve both the SSA and court system. Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC’s skilled and dedicated attorneys guide you through the process. We have more than 75 years of combined legal experience and understand how to give your claim the best chance of success and we are one the few local firms who will assist you with your initial application as well as the appeal process.

 The Programs: SSDI vs. SSI

The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs two different disability programs:  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSI is a financial need-based program for disabled individuals who haven’t earned enough work credits or haven’t worked at all in the past 10 years. SSDI is a disability program for workers who have earned enough work credits based on taxable employment in the past 10 years. Overall, the main difference resides in how long an individual has worked in the past 10 years

The Process

Statistics from various SSA study groups put denial of initial SSDI and SSI applications at

65%-70%. Upon initial denial of an application, there are four stages of appeal:

  • Reconsideration
  • Hearing —
  • . Review by the Appeals Council
  • Federal court review

For a description of each of these, contact us online.

Eighty seven percent (87%) of applications are denied under reconsideration review, the second step in the application process.

However, if you live in Northeast Tennessee your odds of being approved are more favorable. Tennessee ranks among the top ten states for disability approval. While the approval rates in Tennessee are around or below average at the initial application and reconsideration stages, the rate of approval at the disability hearing stage is a lot higher than the national average.

Typical Disability Benefits

The benefit amount a person receives is determined by the SSA through review of that individual’s past work history, the amount of income received, and the current household situation. According to the SSA, the national average SSDI payment in 2015 given out to beneficiaries was $1,165, while the national average SSI payment was $541. The maximum payment allowed for SSDI is $2,663 while the maximum payment for SSI is $733 for an individual, and $1,100 for a couple. Statistics show that most beneficiaries’ payments range from $500 to $2,000.

To learn more about qualifying for Social Security disability benefits in Tennessee or Virginia, contact an experienced Bristol attorney. Call Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. today at 423-797-6022 to schedule your free initial consultation, or contact us online.


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  • Bristol Office
    777 Anderson Street
    Bristol, Tennessee 37620
    Phone: 423-797-6022
    Fax: 423-764-1179
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  • "When we were in crucial need of both knowledge and competency due to a legal situation, Mr. Myers Massengill of this firm spent the time we needed..."  -Geoff Stunkard

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  • "Mr.Carter Massengill and staff most respectful and nicest people to help quickly resolve your legal issues and with a positive outcome..."  -Brandon Thorpe

  • "Carter's assistance in navigating the complicated path through the Disability appeals process was instrumental in her approval. We can't thank him enough."  -Scott S.

  • "Thank you for helping me win my case. "  -Jenna.

  • "I am very pleased with the service from Myers and his staff. Very professional and personable at the same time . I felt like my case mattered to them . I would highly recommend their services (and a special thank you to Pam guys have been so helpful)"  -Rhonda.

  • "Carter Massengill did an excellent job helping me with my disability. He did a great job along with his assistant Sandra. Honest and helpful people to deal with. I would definitely recommend him."  -Patty.

  • "Attorney Carter Massengill is hands down one of the most trustworthy and genuine individuals you will ever meet. Rest assured that you are in good hands and that he is going to do everything in his power to take the best care of you and your case, along with expediting the process as quickly as possible. It's rare that an attorney possesses such great attributes in the sense that he is easy to talk to and when he says he is going to get something done, he does it! His office staff is the best. They know their clients and have excellent communication skills. It helps when you are going through a difficult situation. They are a great team and you would be very fortunate to have them represent you! We were able to settle out of court for exactly what we were asking for and this was with me having pre existing pain from fibromyalgia. I am extremely blessed to have hired such a wonderful attorney."  -C.M.