Understanding Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available to individuals who have contributed to a Social Security Account. These individuals earn “quarters of coverage” based on their contributions. The required number of quarters an individual must work is five out of the last 10 years. For a younger individual (under the age of 30), the number of quarters of required coverage is reduced.
Understanding Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program for individuals not covered by the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The benefits are determined based on individual income and assets. The standard to determine disability eligibility is the same as the SSDI program.
Disability Planning: Who is Disabled?
To be eligible for SSI or SSDI benefits, an individual must demonstrate that they are “totally disabled” and unable to engage in substantial gainful activities (SGA). The individual must prove they have a physical or mental impairment or a combination of impairments that are severe enough to prevent them from performing their previous work or any other work for at least twelve months, or the condition is expected to result in death.
A younger individual may need to show that they can’t do any work. Once a person reaches fifty, the burden becomes less stringent, and an individual may be able to obtain benefits by showing they are incapable of performing their past jobs, and they don’t have the skills or capacity to perform other types of work.
The Application for Social Security Disability Benefits in New York
To begin a Social Security claim in New York, an individual must apply to the Social Security Administration. After meeting with one of our qualified New York disability planning attorneys and providing us with all the necessary information to file your application, we work with Disability Counsel, who will submit the application on your behalf.
The Denial of Disability Benefits in New York State
Although a significant number of applications are approved initially, an even larger number of applications are denied in New York. In large part, the decision is based on the cooperation of treating physicians. If the treating physician is thorough and supportive of the claimant, there is a good chance the application can be approved initially. However, if the application is denied, the claimant has the right to request an appeal within sixty (60) days of the denial plus five (5) for mailing. Our Nassau County and Suffolk County offices work with Disability Counsel, who can request the hearing on your behalf.
Request A Hearing in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and New York City, NY
Scheduling a hearing usually takes over a year before the claimant appears before a federal administrative law judge with their attorney. Medical records must be obtained, reviewed, and organized as part of the hearing process. They are presented to an administrative law judge along with a written statement by the attorney summarizing the arguments on the claimant’s behalf, quoting the appropriate Social Security regulations.
Once the hearing has been scheduled, Disability Counsel will practice with the claimant before the hearing so that they are thoroughly prepared and relaxed at the hearing. It won’t be helpful for a claimant to be so nervous they can’t properly testify. The hearing is a closed affair with the administrative law judge, the judge’s assistant, the claimant, and their attorney. In some cases, there may be a medical or vocational expert or both.
The claimant gives testimony along with any experts. The hearing takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Once the hearing has ended, the judge prepares a written decision. Depending on the particular office, it can take anywhere between one and six months. If the decision is favorable, the claimant receives an award letter explaining their benefits and receives them shortly afterward.
A New York attorney’s fee is typically 25% of the backpay with a maximum of $6,000. It is automatically withheld and forwarded to the attorney. The claimant is only responsible for paying the attorney’s fee in rare situations when the Social Security Administration neglects to withhold those fees.
If the decision is unfavorable, then a decision is made by our office whether a further appeal is warranted. If we feel that a strong case is presented and the judge’s decision was incorrect, Disability Counsel will file an appeal to the Appeals Council of the SSA again within 60 days, plus five for mailing. That decision can take several years, so we prefer to be successful at the hearing. If the claim to the Appeals Council is unsuccessful and a further appeal can be made to the Federal District Court, those appeals are very often successful.
If you believe you may have a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits in New York, feel free to contact our office at your convenience. Our disability planning attorneys have over 40 years of experience with disability claims and have handled thousands of hearings. We (along with Disability Counsel) are well-equipped to handle your case in the state of New York.
Russo Law Group, P.C. helps you and your loved ones handle Estate Planning, Elder Law, Special Needs Planning, New York Medicaid Planning, Trust & Estate, Guardianship, Small Business Planning, and Real State law. We welcome you to contact our Garden City, Lido Beach, or Islandia, New York, law offices to learn more about how we can help address your disability planning legal matters.
If you have questions or concerns about estate planning and disability claims in Long Island and New York City communities, please don’t hesitate to contact the Social Security disability attorneys with Russo Law Group, P.C. While we have several office locations, we can also visit your home and offer virtual meetings for convenience.