Applying for disability benefits: 4 questions you should ask yourself
Are you wondering if you qualify for Social Security disability benefits? According to a NH disability lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC, here are 4 questions you should ask yourself before applying:
Are you working?
Do you have a severe medical impairment?
Will your impairment last 12 months or result in death?
Are you able to work?
These questions should be considered when applying for benefits.
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Social Security retirement benefits are determined by a worker’s age and work history, but Social Security disability is a much lengthier and more complicated process. When applying for disability benefits, you must prove that you meet Social Security’s definition of disability.
According to a NH disability lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC, Social Security defines disability as the inability to engage in gainful employment, otherwise knows as “substantial gainful activity,” because of a medically determinable condition that has lasted 12 consecutive months or is likely to last 12 consecutive months, or will result in death.
How do you prove that you are disabled?
There are three means by which a claimant can prove that he/she meets Social Security’s definition of disability:
Meet a Social Security “Listing of Impairment.”
Fit within the medical-vocational guidelines (“Grid Rules”).
Prove that your capacity to perform even a “sedentary” job has been so reduced by your impairment(s) that you would not be able to work at a job 8 hours per day/5 days per week (“Functional Capacity”).
What is a Listing of Impairment?
The Social Security Administration provides a list of 14 body systems and medical problems serious enough to prevent a claimant from functioning in a full- time work environment. If you have a medical or mental health condition that meets a listing, the Social Security Administration will find that you are unable to work and are, therefore, disabled under their rules.
If, however, you do not meet a listing, you will have to submit medical evidence, and/or other certain types of evidence, to prove that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity.
What are the Grid Rules?
If a disability applicant does not meet a medical impairment listing, Social Security will use rules set out on a grid to determine if an applicant is disabled, based on age, residual functional capacity (“RFC”) level (sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work), education level, and work history and skills. Even if the grids determine that you should be found “not disabled,” there are means of countering this determination (for example, if you can’t even do sedentary work, if you have non-exertional impairments, if you can’t use your prior job skills, if you have multiple conditions that lower your RFC, if you fit into a “special vocational profile” (such as having done 35 years of arduous labor), or if you are almost in the next age group). Note that if your impairments are not exertional in nature, but are instead psychological, the grids will not apply.
Do you need a NH Disability Lawyer?
Our team understands the Social Security disability application process and the regulations the Social Security Administration uses to review claims. We use our experience to prepare your application and work with your doctors to support your application.
If your original application is denied, you will need to file an appeal and request a hearing before an administrative law judge in order to be granted Social Security benefits. Statistics have shown that people represented at a hearing by a NH disability lawyer have been successful more often than those who are not represented.
How much does it cost to hire a NH Disability Lawyer?
We do not charge for our services unless you receive benefits. To pay attorney fees, the Social Security Administration withholds 25% of any past due benefits. Nothing will be withheld from your regular monthly checks after you receive benefits.
When should you contact a NH Disability Lawyer?
As with many things in life, the sooner the better. As your legal representative, we will undertake pre-hearing preparation and perform a great deal of analysis and evidence gathering. We will also work with your doctors to explain the Social Security regulations and obtain a medical report. For these reasons, the earlier a NH disability lawyer at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC begins working on your case, the better your chances are of receiving disability benefits.
Areas Served: The attorneys of Manning & Zimmerman represent clients in courts and cities throughout New Hampshire, including: Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Derry, Dover, Rochester, Salem, Merrimack, Hudson, Londonderry, Keene, Portsmouth, Bedford, Goffstown, Laconia, Hooksett, and Hillsborough County, Rockingham County, Merrimack County, Strafford County, Grafton County, Cheshire County, Belknap County, Carroll County, Sullivan County, and Coös County.