Request a Free SSDI Consultation
Zachary Zawarski is an attorney located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, that assists applicants who have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. SSDI are benefits for disabled workers. An individual is entitled to SSDI if they’ve earned sufficient wages to financially qualify for benefits and they are disabled.
Definition of a Disability
The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers an individual to be disabled if (1) the applicant cannot do the work they previously did; (2) the applicant cannot adjust to other work because of the claimant’s medical conditions; and (3) the applicant’s disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year. The SSA has provided a listing of impairments that qualify for SSDI.
Applying for SSDI
An application for SSDI can be completed online. You can also visit your local Social Security Administration office. Before completing your application, review this checklist to determine what information is required. Information on your medical history and employment history is critical.
After you’ve submitted an application for benefits, it may take a long time before you receive a determination. It typically takes three to six months to get a decision on the initial claim. If the initial claim is denied and a request for reconsideration is filed, it can often take another three to six months.
Appeals to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
If you are denied on reconsideration, you must file a request for hearing and your case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). It can take over twelve (12) months to get a hearing. Please also be mindful of the appeal deadlines. Appeals must be filed within 60 days of the date of denial.
Prior to the ALJ Hearing, the Judge will review the applicant’s exhibit file which contains the applicant’s medical records and work history. At the ALJ Hearing, the Judge will question the applicant regarding their disability, as well as a vocational expert (VEs) and medical experts (MEs). The vocational expert will testify whether there are any available jobs that he believes the applicant can perform with the applicant’s medical condition. At the ALJ Hearing, applicants may also be able to present additional medical documentation that was not previously considered by the disability examiners. The applicant’s attorney can also question the applicant or witnesses about the disability and cross-examine the vocational and medical experts. Following the ALJ Hearing, the Judge will issue a written decision.
Additional Appeals After ALJ Hearing
Your chances of obtaining benefits tend to be the greatest at the ALJ Hearing, which makes obtaining representation for this hearing critical. However, if your SSDI claim remains denied after the ALJ Hearing, you may still be able to file an appeal to the Appeals Council and to Federal Court.
Successful Claims – How Much Your Benefit Award Will Be
Monthly individual benefits for SSDI range from approximately $800 to $2,100 per month. If you have dependent children under the age of 18, you may be paid an additional 50% of your benefit amount for the support of your children. You will not be paid for the first five, full months of disability. You cannot get paid back benefits dating more than one year prior to the date of your application. The attorney’s fees for representation will be based on a 25% contingency fee of the accrued benefits that would be awarded to you (subject to a $6,000 cap).
If you are looking for an attorney to assist you with your SSDI claim, feel free to call me at (610) 417-6345. I offer a free consultation and I can help guide you through the SSDI appeal process. Additionally, we can offer to represent you on a contingency-fee basis. My office is located in Bethlehem, PA, and I represent clients throughout the Lehigh Valley area including Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and surrounding areas.