Toledo Social Security Disability Attorneys

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Need Help With SSD Benefits? Our Toledo Social Security Disability Attorneys Are Here

What is Social Security Disability? Social Security Disability (SSD), is also known as SSDIB (Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income). These are benefits available to those with a disabling condition or illness that prevents them from working. While SSD rarely replaces 100 percent of an individual’s pre-disability wages, it can make a huge difference. That’s why a Toledo Social Security Disability attorney from Schaffer & Associates wants to help people get the benefits they need.

Under Social Security rules, a person is considered disabled if they are unable to engage in sustained gainful activity due to a severe medical condition (or conditions) that has lasted a year or is expected to last at least a year, or a condition expected to result in death. The severe medical condition(s) must prevent the individual from doing the work they did in the past or adjusting to another type of work. SSD beneficiaries tend to be among the most severely impaired in the country because the Social Security Disability Act defines disability so strictly.

While we often think disability only strikes the elderly, disability is unpredictable and can happen to anyone at any age. In fact, according to Social Security, more than one in four current 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching retirement age. Disability benefits can be a crucial source of financial support for those who need it most. Social Security Disability has been helping disabled Americans for more than 60 years. The number of disabled individuals has steadily increased over these years. There are currently some nine million Americans receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration each month.

Am I Eligible for Social Security Disability?

How Can I Be Approved for Social Security Disability in Ohio?

While Social Security Disability is a federal program, the approval (or denial) rates vary significantly from state to state. For example, the state of Hawaii has the highest approval rate for those who apply for SSD—67 percent. This means that more than two-thirds of those applying for SSD are approved. The other top-five states for the highest approval rating for SSD applicants are Utah, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Tennessee. These states have a 54 percent approval rating. Overall, initial SSD applications are approved in barely more than one third (36 percent) of claims. According to the Ohio Disability Resource Center, the state of Ohio is one of the worst for approving initial SSD applications, at 30 percent—just one of the many reasons to have an experienced Toledo Social Security Disability attorney from Schaffer & Associates by your side.

Five Things to Know Before Applying for Social Security Disability

Am I Eligible for Social Security Disability?

It is important that you know you are eligible for SSD benefits prior to filling out your initial application. Your attorney can help you make this determination; however, you will find the requirements for SSD below:

For SSDIB purposes, you must have worked long enough—and recently enough—under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits.

Social Security bases this on work credits, which are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits per year. But, the amount needed for a work credit changes from year to year. For 2020, you will earn one work credit for each $1,410 in wages or self-employment income. Once you have earned $5,640, you have earned your four credits for the year. For 2021, you will earn one work credit for each $1,470 in wages or self-employment income. Once you have earned $5,880, you have earned your four credits for the year. Younger workers who are disabled may qualify with fewer credits. But in general, you will need a total of 40 credits, 20 of which you earned over the past ten years. This requirement is not in place for SSI purposes.

You must not be earning more than the maximum allowed under the Substantial Gainful Activity rules.

The SGA amount for those with a disability other than blindness is $1,260 per month as of 2020. This amount will increase to $1,310 for 2021.

You must meet specific medical requirements to qualify for SSD

The Social Security Administration maintains a “Listing of Impairments” that will automatically qualify an individual with certain conditions for disability. If your medical condition is included or is equivalent to one in the “Listing of Impairments”, your chances of being approved are much higher. However, if your medical condition(s) is not included in the “Listing of Impairments”, but is severe enough to prevent you from being able to engage in sustained gainful activity, you can still be eligible for benefits. 

What Does the Social Security Disability Application Process Entail?

You can apply for SSDIB benefits online at the Social Security website, or in person at your local Social Security office (by appointment only). You can only file an SSI application at your local Social Security office (by appointment only), you are not able to apply for SSI benefits online. Be sure to fill out the application correctly. Many applications are rejected simply because they are missing necessary information. Having experienced Social Security Disability attorneys, such as the team at Schaffer & Associates, LPA, assist you with filing the application can ensure that the application is completed properly. Once your application has been submitted, it will be reviewed by a case adjudicator, and a decision will be made.

If your initial SSD application is denied, do not despair! Contact a knowledgeable Toledo Social Security Disability attorney, such as the attorneys at Schaffer & Associates, who can appeal the decision. There are four levels of appeal following a denial of the original SSD application. These levels include reconsideration, a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge, a Review by the Appeals Council, and a Federal Court review. While these appeals undoubtedly take time, a significant number of SSD applicants who appeal are eventually approved. If approved, your benefits can be retroactive.  

Applying for Disability Benefits If You’re Over 50

What Are Some Common Myths Associated with SSD?

There are many myths associated with Social Security Disability, such as:

  • You must be disabled for a year prior to applying for SSD. If your medical condition is expected to last for 12 months or more or is terminal, you can qualify for SSD benefits. You do not need to wait a year before filing your application.
  • You are not allowed to receive workers’ compensation and SSD at the same time. If your disability resulted from a work injury or illness, you can—and should—apply for workers’ compensation as soon as possible. While you can collect workers’ compensation and SSD simultaneously, your benefits may be offset or reduced.
  • You are not allowed to work while collecting SSD. The Social Security Administration has programs known as work incentives in place that allow you to earn up to a certain amount per month and still maintain your eligibility for SSD. You may also choose to work a “trial” period, with no changes in benefits, regardless of the amount you make.
  • If you did not pay into Social Security, you are not eligible for disability benefits. You must pay into Social Security to qualify for SSDIB benefits. However, if you did not pay into Social Security, or did not pay in recently enough to qualify for SSDIB, but you meet the medical criteria for disability, you can be eligible for disability benefits known as SSI.

What Is the Attorney Fee For Social Security Disability?

Many people fear that hiring an attorney will cost them an exorbitant amount of money in legal fees. This is a common misconception, however, as the Social Security Administration has placed a cap on the amount of fees that Social Security Disability attorneys can collect. Social Security Disability attorneys work on contingency, meaning these attorneys are prohibited from collecting fees upfront. Rather, Social Security Disability lawyers are only able to collect payment for their services after they have successfully obtained benefits for their client. This is beneficial to Social Security applicants who may fear the financial consequences of seeking legal assistance.

Federal legislation has put in place a fee structure for Social Security Disability attorneys. According to § 416.1530 of the Code of Federal Regulations, attorneys are only able to collect 25% of any back pay awarded, not to exceed $7,200 in 2024. This amount is slated to increase, as it does from time to time, to $9,200, effective November 30, 2024.

Essentially, if your disability claim is denied, your attorney will not receive a fee. This structure provides an incentive for attorneys to provide high-quality representation for their clients to ensure that they receive the Social Security benefits they deserve. At Schaffer & Associates LPA, our Toledo Social Security Disability attorneys prioritize transparency in all aspects of our work and provide copies of our fee agreement to all clients.

Will It Be Easier to Get Social Security With a Lawyer?

The process of securing Social Security benefits can be difficult and perplexing, requiring a copious amount of paperwork and months of waiting. For this reason, it is common to wonder whether it will be easier to get Social Security with the help of a lawyer. A study from the United States Government Accountability Office reports that individuals who hired an attorney to help with securing disability benefits were three times more likely to be successful than those who did not seek legal guidance. 

Having a trusted legal advisor by your side during the process can be advantageous. Social Security applicants often look to our experienced attorneys for the following reasons:

  • Attorneys have an understanding of the medical evidence required to win Social Security benefits. Presenting the right evidence in your application is one of the most important factors to securing Social Security benefits. It is not uncommon for inexperienced applicants to provide irrelevant or unnecessary information that the Social Security Administration does not consider important. Toledo Social Security Disability attorneys at Schaffer & Associates LPA understand how to develop your case with pertinent, relevant evidence based on your specific medical condition. They will sit down with you and review your file to select the most essential information for your case and work alongside you to secure additional evidence if necessary. 
  • Lawyers have years of experience in the disability hearing process. Having dedicated their practice to securing Social Security benefits for their clients, attorneys have the experience necessary to avoid common pitfalls and handle legal difficulties during the hearing process. They may be familiar with Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) in their district and understand how to handle information that may be counterproductive to your case. Similarly, a skilled attorney will know the rules and regulations of the Social Security Administration and craft their arguments to most effectively benefit your case. 
  • Avoiding the burden of paperwork and other administrative tasks. For individuals experiencing a disability, navigating the paperwork and administrative tasks necessary to secure benefits can quickly become overwhelming. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to ensure that all deadlines are met and all paperwork is compiled and submitted according to the requirements of the Social Security Administration. 

While hiring a lawyer does not guarantee success, it can greatly improve your chances of securing Social Security benefits. Having a trusted legal advocate by your side can reduce the stress and anxiety of an otherwise intimidating process. Even more importantly, an attorney can ensure that you avoid common missteps and mistakes in your application, helping to expedite the process. 

When Should I Hire a Social Security Disability Attorney?

With no upfront costs associated with hiring an attorney, it is wise to seek legal guidance as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you with your application to avoid common errors before submission, therefore reducing the likelihood of denial. Some people wait to seek legal assistance until their application has been denied several times, delaying the process greatly. Therefore, it is never a bad idea to hire or at least consult with a Social Security Disability attorney as early in the process as possible. 

Contacting a Social Security Disability Attorney Near You

There are thousands of attorneys around the country who represent clients during the Social Security benefits application process. Hiring a Toledo Social Security Disability attorney near you who you can trust is key, as you will be working with this individual closely during the process. The experience of working with a local business rather than a large, unsympathetic national firm is often preferable to those looking for assistance. Many law offices will allow you to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your case in greater detail and see if their office is a good fit for your needs. During this conversation, consider asking the following questions to gauge whether or not their services are right for you: 

  • How do you charge for your services? Are there any upfront costs associated with your representation?
  • Do you have experience in navigating Social Security Disability claims?
  • How often do you communicate with your clients?
  • Are you familiar with my medical condition?
  • If my claim is denied, do you handle the appeals?

These questions can help provide an understanding of the attorney’s experience and whether they will be able to navigate your case with skill and expertise. It is important that you can be confident in your attorney’s abilities and rest assured that they will be able to effectively secure benefits for you. 

How an Experienced Schaffer & Associates Attorney Can Help with Your SSD

If you are disabled and unable to work due to a medical condition or illness, you may qualify for SSD benefits. It can be beneficial to have compassionate, experienced Toledo Social Security Disability attorneys from Schaffer & Associates helping you submit your initial application and deal with any appeals should your application be denied. We have been helping people just like you for years. We understand the process and will work hard to ensure you have the chance you deserve at being approved for SSD benefits. Contact Schaffer & Associates today for a free consultation.