Knowledgeable New England Social Security Disability Lawyer
Helping to Provide Security and Certainty for Disabled Individuals
If you are a worker suffering from a disability, you and your dependent children may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits — also known as SSDI benefits — from the Social Security Administration. Over the past 20 years, SSDI overall approval percentages have declined significantly. Unfortunately, approximately 70 percent of all initial SSDI applications are denied by the Social Security Administration, including in many cases where the claimant is truly disabled. Having an attorney on your side can significantly increase your chances of getting approved for SSDI benefits.
Filing a claim for SSDI benefits can be a daunting task for a worker suffering from a disability. Attorney Rick Madore has an extensive amount of experience representing disabled individuals and knows the laws and regulations of the Social Security Administration very well. Having represented hundreds of SSDI claimants throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, Rick understands the uncertainties that lie ahead and how important your financial security is to you.
What Are Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?
The SSDI program is a social insurance program under which workers earn coverage for benefits by working and paying Social Security taxes on their earnings. The program provides monthly cash benefits to disabled workers and their dependents. For those who can no longer work due to a disability, the disability program is there to replace some of their lost income.
How Does The Social Security Act Define “Disabled”?
Eligibility rules for the SSDI program are significantly different than most private short term/long term disability insurance plans and other government programs such as workers’ compensation or veterans VA benefits. Specifically, the Social Security Act defines disability as a severe medical condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least 12 months or result in death. A claimant must also prove that not only does the severe medical condition prevent them from performing the tasks associated with their past jobs, but it also prevents them from adjusting to other work in the local or national economy i.e., an unskilled sedentary or a light duty type of job.
How Does The Social Security Administration Determine If You Are Disabled?
The Social Security Administration uses a 5 step “sequential evaluation process” to determine whether an individual is disabled and eligible for cash benefits:
Step 1: Is the claimant working above the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level?
If a claimant is working and their monthly gross earnings are more than the monthly SGA limit, the claimant is found not disabled and the claim is denied. In 2022, the SGA monthly income limit is $1,350.00. The monthly SGA limit usually changes every year. If a claimant is not working or has earnings that are less than the SGA limit, the adjudicator proceeds to step two.
Step 2: Is the claimant’s physical and/or mental condition severe?
A claimant must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment (MDI) that meets the 12-month duration requirement. The impairment(s) must also interfere with basic work-related activities to be found severe. If the claimant’s impairments are not severe or do not meet the duration requirement, the claim will be denied. If the claimant’s impairments are severe and meet the duration requirement, the adjudicator proceeds to step 3.
Step 3: Does the claimant’s medical condition meet or equal the severity of a Social Security listing?
The Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions that are so severe that a claimant is automatically found disabled if they suffer from a condition on the list. If the claimant’s medical impairment meets or equals a listing, the claimant is found disabled and the claim is approved. If the claimant's medical impairments do not meet or equal a listing, the adjudicator proceeds to an intermediary step before proceeding to step 4. After step 3, and prior to step 4, the adjudicator will make an assessment of the claimant’s residual functional capacity (RFC) based on the claimant’s medically determinable impairment. The adjudicator will also consider the impact of a claimants impairment on the claimant’s ability to perform sustained work-related physical and mental activities.
Step 4: Can the claimant do any of his/her past relevant work?
If the adjudicator determines that the claimant retains the RFC to perform past relevant work despite suffering from a severe medically determinable impairment, the claimant is found not disabled and the claim is denied. If the claimant cannot perform their past relevant work, the adjudicator proceeds to step 5.
Step 5: Can the claimant make an adjustment to other work?
At this step, the adjudicator takes into consideration the claimant’s RFC, age, education, and work experience and determines if the individual can make an adjustment to other types of work i.e., an unskilled sedentary or a light duty type of job. If the claimant can adjust to other work, the claimant is found not disabled and the claim is denied. If the claimant can not adjust to other work the claimant is found disabled and the claim is approved.
Contact an Experienced Massachusetts SSDI Attorney
The SSDI claim process can be confusing and very difficult to navigate for a disabled worker. You do not have to go through the process alone. Serving clients throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, Attorney Rick Madore can guide you and help you obtain the benefits you deserve. Whether you are suffering from a disability and need to apply for benefits, or you have recently been denied benefits, contact our office for a free no obligation review of your disability claim today.