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Social Security Disability Law

Fresno Social Security Law Office

Fresno Social Security Disability Lawyers

Social Security disability law is comprised of rules and regulations that determine which individuals qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.

The rules for these federal programs are found in the Social Security Act, or Title 42 of the United States Code(42 U.S.C. § 423), as well as in the regulations and rulings of the Social Security Administration (SSA). These regulations are initially published in the Federal Register and incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations. If you are seeking disability benefits, understanding these laws and navigating the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires the skills and guidance of an knowledgeable attorney.

Peña & Bromberg, PLC provides comprehensive legal services to the disabled and their loved ones in San Francisco, Oakland, Bakersfield, Madera, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento and Modesto and across the nation. We are well versed in the laws governing these federal programs and work tirelessly to help our clients obtain the benefits they have earned.

A Brief History of Disability Benefits Law

The SSA provides disability benefits to individuals who are unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment. The SSDI program was established by Congress with the passage of the Social Security Act Amendments in 1956 which became effective on January 1, 1957. The program pays monthly disability benefits to those who have worked enough years to qualify and have paid into the Social Security system.

SSDI is funded by tax deductions under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA). These deductions are paid into the Social Security system, which includes retirement benefits, Medicare, and Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) costs.

In particular, funds for disability benefits are set aside in a separate account under the United States Treasury known as the Disability Trust Fund. The trust fund automatically pays monthly benefits to disability recipients. Initially, SSDI benefits were only paid to workers who were fifty years of age or older. Today, individuals who are over the age of 18 may be eligible, provided they have earned coverage.

SSI was created with amendments to the Social Security Act in 1974, which replaced federal-state adult assistance programs that were previously in place. SSI provides benefits to low-income individuals who are 65 or older, blind or disabled.

Finally, under SSA rules, there is a specific definition of disability, which is the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which has lasted or is expected to last no less than 12 months or can be expected to result in death.

Eligibility Requirements for Disability Benefits

There are very strict eligibility requirements for SSDI and SSI. To qualify for SSDI, it is necessary to have earned the required number of work credits prior to the onset of the disability.

Generally, you you must acquire 40 works credits to be eligible, 20 of which must come in the last ten years of employment before you became disabled. The amount of income needed for a credit is adjusted each year. Currently, one credit is earned for each $1,300 earned, and earning $5,200 will earn you four credits for the year.

Additionally, you must also be “disabled” under SSA guidelines. A person is deemed to be disabled if he or she cannot perform the same job, or another type of work, due to a severe medical impairment. In short, the inability to work must be complete and long-term.

SSI eligibility, on the hand, is based on income level, not work credits. This means that these benefits are available even if you have not paid into the Social Security system. However, your income must be below an amount referred to as the federal benefit rate (FBR). Understanding how this rate is calculated is complex, however, and is based on a portion of earned income and other sources of income.

How to File a Claim for Disability Benefits

An application for disability benefits can be submitted online, by phone, or in-person at a local Social Security field office. It is important to note that the application process is complicated and requires a vast amount of personal information. This includes medical records provided by a treating physician and other medical professionals that support the claim. It is also necessary to provide information about your work history, as well as copies of W-2s and income tax returns.

If there are mistakes or omissions, or the SSA determines that the condition does not meet the definition of a disability, the application will be denied. Although there is an extensive appeals process, having proper legal representation increases the likelihood of having a claim approved.

Why You Should Call Peña & Bromberg, PLC

Did you know that nearly two-thirds of initial disability benefits claims are denied? And navigating the appeals process can be just as challenging. For this reason, having the advice and counsel of our experienced disability benefits attorneys is invaluable. We leverage our legal knowledge and skill to guide clients through the application process, and are fully prepared to appeal any claim that is denied.

When you engage the services of Peña & Bromberg, you will not pay any upfront legal fees - we only get paid if your claim prevails. Our guiding principle is that every life has value and we are committed to fighting for the rights of the disabled. If you or a loved one is seeking disability benefits, call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.