Attorneys Can Help You Apply for Social Security Disability in Kingsport
Trusted advisors help you navigate the process
If you are disabled and unable to work, you may be entitled to disability benefits from the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA). The program, however, imposes strict requirements, and many claims are initially denied. At Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC, our 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.
Understanding Social Security benefits
Approximately 57 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) benefits. There are two different programs:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — The SSDI program is intended to assist workers who previously held a job but can no longer work because of a debilitating medical condition. Your eligibility for disability benefits is determined by your work history and your disability.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — To qualify for SSI, you must be blind, disabled or aged 65 or older. You must also meet a very low income threshold and have very few assets. There is no requirement to have worked or paid taxes into the Social Security system. For example, disabled children can qualify for benefits.
The definition of disability
A disability is defined as a physical or emotional condition that renders an individual unable to perform substantial gainful activity. The determination not only considers your medical condition but also takes your age, education and past work history into consideration. In order to receive SSD benefits, you must be totally disabled. Unlike workers’ compensation insurance, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) does not pay SSD benefits for partial disability or for short-term disability.
Why was my Social Security disability claim denied?
If your initial Social Security claim was denied, don’t be discouraged. Many claims are initially denied but approved on appeal. In some cases, the SSA simply may not have had enough information to fully consider your claim. The assistance of an experienced lawyer can improve your likelihood of success. We gather additional evidence of your disability and present it in the most persuasive light possible.
Bristol, TN lawyers help clients file SSD appeals
If your claim is denied, the SSA offers several opportunities to demonstrate that you satisfy the SSD requirements. There are four levels of appeal:
- Reconsideration –The SSA conducts a complete reconsideration of your application, along with any new evidence you submit to bolster your claim.
- Hearing — An administrative law judge conducts a court hearing to consider your SSD claim. The hearing often involves the testimony of medical and vocational experts. The SSA introduces its evidence, and you will have the opportunity to do the same.
- Review by the Appeals Council — The Social Security’s Appeals Council may grant review of your claim, but is not required to do so. If it decides to hear your case, it will typically issue a decision approving or denying your claim. It may also order the administrative law judge to conduct another hearing.
- Federal court review — The final option involves filing a lawsuit in federal court. The litigation proceeds like a typical civil lawsuit.
While the SSA conducts the initial “reconsideration” level, the other three appeals involve the court system. Each phase of the SSD appeal process has stringent deadlines. For example, if you disagree with the SSA’s initial denial, you must appeal the decision in writing within 60 days of receiving your denial letter.
Prior to filing a lawsuit in court, an attorney is not required to independently pursue an SSD claim. However, it is certainly advised. At Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC, our seasoned SSD lawyers have the knowledge and resources to analyze complex medical documents. We are also experienced litigators who understand how to question expert witnesses and argue persuasively on your behalf. We are also one of the few firms in the Tri-Cities that will help you complete the original SSD paperwork and navigate your claim through the entire claims process.
Contact our Kingsport law firm for reliable legal guidance on your SSD claim
If a disability keeps you from working, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC diligently pursues your SSD claim from the initial application to the final approval. Call us today at 423-797-6022 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. Our office is conveniently located in Bristol, and we also offer hospital or home visits to accident victims and their families.