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Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer

Key Takeaways About Social Security Disability in Boston

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is earned through work credits and replaces lost earnings, while Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides benefits based on financial need.
  • Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) depends on earning enough work credits, regardless of current income, while Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is income-based. Qualifying conditions include impairments like respiratory illness, cancer, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury, assessed based on their impact on work capacity.
  • Many Social Security disability claims are denied due to factors like insufficient medical evidence, prior denials, high earnings, or failure to follow treatment guidance. 
  • If your Social Security disability claim is denied, you have 60 days to appeal. It’s important to consult with a lawyer, especially since many claims are denied even after reconsideration. In Boston, hearings are held before a judge, with about a 45% success rate, and it typically takes around a year from filing to the final decision.

Are you unable to work after a serious accident, illness, or workplace injury in Boston, MA? If you are facing long-term or permanent disability, you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits. However, most disability claims are denied. An experienced Boston Social Security disability lawyer can help you fight for the disability benefits you deserve.

Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP has represented clients unable to work for more than a decade. Contact our law firm for a free consultation. Call (617)-391-9001 today to discuss how we can help you pursue Social Security disability benefits.

How Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP Can Help with Your Social Security Disability Case

If you are unable to work after an injury, you face an uphill battle recovering the benefits you deserve. You may be entitled to Social Security disability. However, most SSDI and SSI claims are denied.

An experienced Boston personal injury lawyer can be invaluable in helping you pursue benefits and compensation from all avenues. Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP, named among the Most Powerful Attorneys by Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly, has recovered tens of millions for our clients. 

When you choose our legal team to represent you in your disability case in Boston, Massachusetts, we will:

  • Offer sound legal advice and guidance, including helping you understand how your disability case may impact a personal injury or workers’ compensation award
  • Help you gather and develop medical evidence
  • Help you submit an initial disability application that is as strong and thorough as possible
  • Help you prepare for a hearing if your initial claim is denied
  • Arrange for witness testimony, including letters from former employers, caregivers, and physicians
  • Prepare a strong argument for your disability 

Our Boston Social Security disability lawyers know the type of medical evidence and legal arguments most likely to win. We put more than 100 years of combined experience to work on your case. Contact our law office today for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you.

Overview of Social Security Disability

Social Security isn’t just a program for retirees; it also provides benefits to workers who are disabled and unable to work, regardless of age. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits under two programs:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a social insurance program. Workers earn coverage for SSDI by paying Social Security taxes and earning work credits. This program replaces some lost earnings when a worker becomes disabled.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that pays benefits to low-income adults and children who are blind or have a disability. It also provides benefits to seniors without disabilities who meet financial guidelines. 

You may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits if you have sufficient work credits and can no longer work due to disability. However, SSDI and SSI benefits are modest. The average SSDI monthly benefit in 2019 was just $1,234. This is barely above the poverty level and represents the majority of income for most beneficiaries.

If you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, your SSDI benefits can be reduced, so your combined monthly benefits do not exceed 80% of what you earned when fully employed. As a general rule, personal injury settlements or awards do not affect SSDI benefits.

Who Is Eligible for Social Security Disability?

Disabled workers under age 65 who have earned enough work credits are eligible for SSDI. Social Security disability insurance is not dependent on your resources or current income. However, SSI is a needs-based program with income eligibility requirements.

You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits after a work-related injury in addition to workers’ compensation. It can also be available following any serious accident like a car crash that results in disability.

What is considered disabled by Social Security?

There are many rules used to determine whether someone is disabled for the purposes of SSDI. As a general rule, Social Security disability applies when a psychiatric, cognitive, or medical impairment prevents you from doing substantial work. This impairment must have prevented you from performing substantial work for at least one year and prevent work for another year.

“Substantial gainful activity” or SGA has a threshold of $1,310 per month. If you earn at least this much during the month, you are not considered disabled by Social Security.

There are many impairments that automatically qualify you for Social Security disability benefits, including:

  • Respiratory illness like COPD
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular issues, including coronary artery disease and heart failure
  • Severe musculoskeletal issues like severe back pain, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis
  • PTSD
  • Chronic pain
  • Traumatic brain injury 

Social Security will determine if your condition meets the specific criteria. There are complicated requirements depending on the condition. Your condition can be considered as meeting the conditions of a listed condition or “equaling” a listing if it is medically equivalent.

You can still qualify for disability benefits if you don’t meet the criteria for a listed condition. To determine if an applicant is disabled, Social Security will do a residual functional capacity assessment. This involves checking for functional limitations in your medical information if you have a physical impairment. This includes restrictions against lifting a certain amount of weight or standing for a certain amount of time. For other impairments, your ability to understand and recall instructions, maintain concentration, respond appropriately to hazards, and interact with others will be assessed.

The results of this assessment are used to determine if you can perform semi-skilled, unskilled, or below unskilled work. Next, your ability to perform your previous full-time job is considered. If Social Security finds you cannot return to your previous job, they will decide if you can perform different work using the assessment. Medical-vocational rules are used to determine if there are additional jobs you can perform.

Work Credits & Social Security Disability Benefits

Disability alone is not enough to qualify for SSDI benefits. You must have earned a sufficient number of work credits through employment. In general, workers under the age of 24 must have earned six work credits in the three-year period up to the disability. Meanwhile, workers between 31 and 42 must have earned at least 20 work credits during the ten years leading up to the disability.

Boston Social Security disability lawyers can help you understand if you meet the eligibility requirements based on your work history.

Why Was My Social Security Disability Claim Denied?

Social Security disability approval statistics vary by state. According to the SSA, just 20-25% of Social Security disability applications are approved initially. However, 2% are awarded at reconsideration, and 9% are awarded at the hearing level. An average of 62% of disability claims are denied.

Common reasons for a final medical denial include:

  • Impairment not expected to last 12 months (4.6% of final medical denials)
  • Impairment is not severe (24.8%)
  • Able to perform past work (11.8%)
  • Able to do other work (40.2%)
  • Other reasons for final medical denials (18.6%) 

Your initial claim may be denied for a number of other reasons:

  • Lack of medical evidence. It’s crucial to submit a disability application with strong evidence documenting your disability and how it prevents you from working.
  • Prior denials. If your application is denied, submitting a new one instead of filing an appeal can result in another denial.
  • Earnings are too high. If you are able to continue working and exceed the income limit, your claim will be denied.
  • Failing to follow treatment guidance. Your claim can be denied with evidence that you are not following treatment for your disability, physician recommendations, or have gaps in care.
  • Failing to cooperate. You must follow through on requests for additional information.

Most Social Security disability claims are denied. Working with an experienced Boston Social Security disability attorney from the beginning can help you avoid errors and increase the chances of a successful claim.

How Can I Appeal a Denied Social Security Disability Claim?

If your Social Security disability claim was denied, you have 60 days to file an appeal or Request for Reconsideration. This is a very good time to consult with an attorney. There is still a high rate of denials at the reconsideration level, which makes it crucial to work with an aggressive lawyer who has experience with disability cases.

If your claim is denied at reconsideration, you have 60 days to file your Request for a Hearing. An SSDI claim hearing is held at the Social Security Administration Office of Hearings Operations (OHO).

This hearing is held before an administrative law judge at the Boston SSA, OHO location at One Bowdoin Square. Your lawyer will represent you during this hearing, make statements in support of your case, and offer testimony from medical and vocational experts. You will be asked about your disability and daily activities. You will also be able to discuss how your disabilities affect your ability to work.

The judge will allow your attorney to speak on your behalf. Your disability lawyer will help you gather medical evidence, prepare a cohesive case, and get ready for this hearing.

In Boston, about 45% of SSDI cases are successful after the final hearing. There is an average wait of 10 months for your disability hearing with an average case processing time of just over one year. This wait time is slightly lower than the national average.

Contact a Boston Social Security Disability Lawyer for a Free Consultation

A Social Security disability attorney at Sweeney Merrigan Law, LLP is prepared to give you the legal representation you need to fight for your disability benefits. Contact our law office today so we can help you secure the disability benefits you need when you are unable to work.

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability in Boston

Is it hard to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in Boston, Massachusetts?

Obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in Boston, Massachusetts, can be challenging due to the stringent eligibility criteria and complex application process. Applicants must provide extensive medical evidence to demonstrate their inability to work due to a severe disability lasting at least one year or resulting in death.

What is the 5-year rule for Social Security Disability?

The “5-year rule” for Social Security Disability (SSDI) refers to the requirement that individuals must have accumulated enough work credits within the past 5 out of 10 years prior to becoming disabled to qualify for benefits. Essentially, applicants must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a sufficient duration to be eligible for SSDI benefits.

Why is there a 10-month waiting period for SSDI?

The 10-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) serves as a waiting period from the onset of disability until individuals can begin receiving benefits. It ensures that SSDI benefits are provided to individuals with long-term disabilities, rather than those experiencing short-term or temporary impairments. During this waiting period, individuals may pursue other forms of assistance or support while their disability claim is being processed.

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