Helping injured workers in Alabama get the resources they need
There are many reasons you or a loved one might be unable to work. Injuries that leave you with a permanent disability or even old age are some of the reasons. In many cases, you could be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (also known as “SSD” and “SSDI”). You pay into that program your entire working life, so it should be there for you when you need it. Making a successful claim, however, can be a challenge. That is why the Birmingham Social Security Disability lawyers of Mezrano Law Firm can help you when you are hurt. Call us to schedule a free consultation at one of our offices throughout Alabama.
Many social security lawyers work on contingency. Contingency means they only collect a fee if they win your disability claim. Whether you are applying for SSDI (Social Security disability) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income), a lawyer will work on your case without making you pay until the end of the case. We will typically enter into written fee agreements with our clients and submit those fee agreements to Social Security for approval. If Social Security approves the agreement, it will pay us directly out of your back pay. By law, the dee cannot exceed$6,000 or 25% of your back pay, whichever is less.
To be eligible for Disability benefits, you have to meet specific criteria:
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will first check whether or not you are working. If you are and earn more than $1,220 a month, you will not be eligible for benefits. If you are not working, the SSA will look to see if you could go back to that work or if you could do another type of work. If you can, then you will probably be denied benefits.
The SSA wants to know how severe your condition is. For example, suppose your injury or illness leaves you unable to do “basic” work – like sitting, standing, lifting, and so forth – for at least 12 months. In that case, you could be eligible for SSD benefits. Likewise, if your condition is terminal, you should also be suitable.
The SSA determines severity by seeing if you have a medical condition named on its list of impairments – what the Administration calls the “blue book.” If you have a “blue book” illness or injury, you are not guaranteed benefits, but it will help you build a stronger case.
Not everyone with a debilitating or terminal disease or condition is eligible for Disability. In addition, you must have paid into the program. The SSA calls these “work credits,” which is what the Administration has to say: “Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year. The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last ten years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.”
Per the SSA, for workers applying for Social Security Disability in 2019, you earn one work credit for every $1,360 you make (in salary or through self-employment). Once you have earned $5,440, you are assigned four work credits in total. You can only earn up to 4 credits a year.
The SSA has two lists of impairments: one for children and one for adults. The lists are the same, with one exception: children have an additional category called “low birth weight and failure to thrive.”
The other categories of conditions, disorders, and illnesses include:
The SSA will make some exceptions, though, for people who are blind, widows/widowers, and for veterans. This is because they have special allowances granted to them under the program. Call us if you fit one of these categories; we can walk you through it.
While SSDI requires that you earn work credits, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program does not. SSI is a federal program funded by tax revenues that provides money to meet specific necessities: food, clothing, and shelter. To qualify, you must be disabled, blind, OR over 65. You must also have limited financial resources. In most cases, people in Alabama who qualify for SSI will also be eligible for Medicaid.
“At 8.5 percent, Alabama had the second-highest percentage of its residents receiving disability benefits.” – AL.com
Why you need a Birmingham SSD lawyer
You can apply for SSD online or in person without legal representation. So, you may be wondering why you should hire a Birmingham Disability lawyer, right? The truth is, about 66% of all Disability claims are denied initially. The SSA can deny your claim for ANY reason – a typo on your application, a missing medical record, etc. So while you can apply independently, you want a professional to help you. It will increase the likelihood of your application making it through the initial stages because our attorneys ensure every “t” is crossed and that all of your documentation is correct, up-to-date, and filed on time.
Yes, you can. Mezrano Law Firm takes these cases on contingency. Therefore, you will pay nothing for our services until we win your case. Then, we take a percentage of your total back-payment award to cover our fees and costs. If you are denied back-pay, we receive nothing.
Also, the federal government prohibits SSD attorneys from taking more than 25% of your total award and only up to $6,000. So, if you are awarded $10,000 in back-pay for benefits, our social security attorneys would be entitled to $2,500 of the total. Everything else is yours, and we cannot collect any further payments for future benefits.
If you already applied for benefits and were denied, Mezrano Law Firm can still help you with your appeal.
By June 2020, reconsideration will be back in Alabama. That means your original claim will be reviewed by Disability Determination Services (DDS) to see if a mistake was made. Few claims are overturned at this stage, adding up to six months of processing time.
Until reconsideration comes back to Alabama, your next step is to request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge within 60 days of the denial. About half of all cases before an ALJ will be overturned in favor of the applicant. Having a Birmingham Disability attorney representing you in these hearings can help swing the pendulum your way.
If things don’t go your way during the hearing, you can request a review by the Appeals Council. Understand that the Council can refuse to hear your claim for any reason, so it is improbable that the decision will be overturned. That only leaves one more option.
This is the final option to appeal a decision to deny your benefits. Your case won’t be heard in front of a jury, but you will need legal representation. The attorneys of Mezrano Law Firm are admitted to practice in every federal court in Alabama so that we can present your case to the judge. The most common outcome is not to overrule the ALJ but to remand (or send back) the claim to the ALJ.
Understand that it can take years before your case gets to this point, especially if you try to do it independently. Working with Birmingham Social Security Disability lawyers can help speed the process and hopefully eliminate the need to file a lawsuit altogether.
If you need help filing for Social Security Disability or appealing a decision, Mezrano Law Firm is here to help. Schedule a free consultation with an experienced Birmingham SSD lawyer by calling 205-206-6300 or filling out our contact form.
1200 Rev Abraham Woods District Office-1st Fl
Birmingham, Alabama 35285