The number of disabled individuals living in the Dallas/Fort Worth area continues to rise, many of whom are unable to provide for themselves and their families. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration offers benefit programs that provide assistance to the disabled. Nonetheless, qualifying for these benefits and navigating the federal bureaucracy can be complicated.

The social security disability attorneys of The Law Office of Carey Thompson routinely fight for the rights of the disabled in Azle, Blue Mound, Fort Worth, Haslet, Keller, Lake Worth, Newark, Saginaw, and throughout greater Tarrant County. Our experienced Social Security disability attorneys can help you obtain the benefits you deserve.

What is a Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a disability as the inability to participate in substantial gainful activity due to a medical condition that has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death. The SSA maintains what is referred to as the Blue Book, which outlines an array of health problems that qualify as disabling conditions for adults and children. In short, if you are suffering from a physical or mental impairment that is included in these listings, you may be entitled to disability benefits.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

The SSA offers two types of benefits to the disabled: Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Insurance:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – These benefits are available to those who have paid into the Social Security system through income tax deductions. Work credits are earned based on the number of quarters the disabled individual has worked each year. SSDI benefits are awarded regardless of a person’s financial situation.
  • Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) – Provided only to those who are disabled, blind, or over 65. In order to qualify, the applicant’s income and resources must fall below a certain threshold, less than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple, excluding a primary residence. SSI benefits are available regardless of whether the individual paid into the Social Security system.

Although this seems straightforward, understanding the requirements for each program is complicated. At the Law Office of Carey Thompson, PC, we have served clients throughout Azle, Dallas, Fort Worth, and  Keller. We will assess your case, determine whether you are eligible for benefits, and guide you through the system.

Applying for SSA Disability Benefits in Texas

The application process can be quite complicated. There are a number of forms to complete, and a significant amount of medical information must be provided, including doctors’ reports, lab tests, radiological tests, and other information that will verify the diagnosis and prognosis.

The SSA rejects many SSDI applicants because they have not earned enough work credits, due to errors, or because insufficient information was provided. In fact, nearly two-thirds of initial applications are denied, which makes having proper legal representation indispensable. Similarly, SSI is only available to those of advanced age or who are disabled and have limited financial resources. We are well versed in the related eligibility rules and can help you collect and submit all the information to properly complete the application.

What Are The Eligibility Requirements For Social Security Disability?

  • Medical Eligibility: Your disability must be considered a total disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This means it significantly limits your ability to perform past work or any other kind of work. Common qualifying conditions include musculoskeletal disorders, neurological conditions, vision impairments, mental illnesses, and chronic illnesses like cancer. The condition must either last at least 12 months, be expected to last a year or more, or result in death. Be prepared to provide medical documentation to the SSA.
  • Work History: The SSA considers your work history and Social Security tax contributions to determine eligibility. You earn work credits based on your income, with a maximum of 4 credits per year. Generally, you need at least 40 credits, with 20 earned in the 10 years before your disability began. If you’ve worked full-time for 10 years and paid Social Security taxes, you likely meet the work credit requirement.
  • Benefit Amount: The amount of your SSDI benefit is based on your average indexed earnings from your highest-earning years (typically up to 35 years). This amount is then adjusted using a formula (PIA) that considers average wage changes. The maximum monthly benefit is capped at around $3,300.

Social Security Benefits Appeals

When an application for disability benefits has been denied, the decision can be appealed. There are a number of stages in what is a complicated appeals process.

The first step involves filing a request for reconsideration within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. The application will be reevaluated by an SSA medical consultant and an examiner who was not involved in the initial decision. Many reconsideration claims are also denied, however, and are usually only granted in cases where there has been a new diagnosis or a condition has worsened.

If the request for reconsideration is denied, the applicant then has 60 days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). These judges are attorneys with the SSA who are responsible for upholding or overturning denials. In order to prevail at this level, it is crucial to have an experienced disability attorney with experience in appeals by your side.

In the event the ALJ denies the appeal, which is not uncommon, the next step is to request the Appeals Council to review the claim. The Council may take a number of actions, including overturning the decision, sending it back to the ALJ for reconsideration, or denying the claim. If the Appeals Council denies the claim, the last resort is to file a lawsuit in the federal court, in which case a judge will determine if there are valid reasons to overturn the decision. We have the skills that are essential for filing a successful appeal and, if necessary, will pursue your case in court.

Why You Should Call a Fort Worth & Saginaw Social Security Disability Lawyer

Being injured or suffering an illness or medical condition that leaves you disabled is an overwhelming experience. Although the government provides essential disability benefits, obtaining these benefits is a difficult challenge. A simple mistake or missing information will cause an application to be denied, and even complete applications with all the required information may still be denied.

The frustration of being disabled can become even worse without a dedicated advocate fighting for your rights to these essential benefits. Our capable disability attorneys have a proven track record of helping our clients throughout Keller, Azle, and the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area obtain SSDI and SSI benefits. If you or a loved one needs assistance completing a disability benefits application or filing an appeal, call our office today for a free consultation.

Carey Thompson is a Social Security disability attorney who serves clients in Azle, Dallas, Fort Worth, Keller, Saginaw, and throughout greater Tarrant County with any Social Security or disability law needs, including applications and appeals.