Disability Lawyers in Tampa, Florida
Social Security is meant to act as a safety net for Americans. The one thought that occurs to most of us is that our Social Security payments are supposed to be there for us when we get old. While that’s correct, Social Security is also meant to be there in the event that we get injured or disabled and find ourselves unable to work like an unexpected accident happens like an automobile accident.
This is an important aspect of Social Security that many of us don’t think about, and why would we? No one plans to get injured or disabled. No one expects to have a lifelong disability.
The process of obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits can be time-consuming and complicated. However, Nancy L. Cavey, our current Social Security Disability Lawyer and former Social Security staff attorney, can help determine what benefits you are eligible for and whether you are likely to be considered “disabled” under Social Security Rules and Regulations.
Contact our Social Security Disability Lawyer Firm for a copy of our free no obligation book “Your Rights to Social Security Disability Benefits”. This informative book will explain the disability claims process in detail and reading it will not be a waste of your time!
The Social Security Disability Process
The Social Security Administration offers disability benefits (called Social Security Disability Insurance) for those that were severely injured or unable to work. The spouse and children of the injured are also eligible to receive financial aid.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not make it easy to get benefits. The SSA can be very strict and sometimes very short-sighted when it comes to issuing payments. Approximately seventy percent of applicants are denied on their first application.
The process of applying for benefits can be very long and very difficult, and isn’t something that a person adjusting to a disability should have to go through alone. Statistics show that Social Security Disability applicants who have an experienced Social Security lawyer have greater success in obtaining benefits. At Cavey Law, your St. Petersburg, Florida Social Security lawyer, we help you through all phases of the Social Security Disability Claims Process.
The Disability Claims Process:
An applicant for Social Security Disability Insurance has five chances to get his or her claim approved. Having an experienced attorney could help you get approved sooner, which would help you get the money that you will need.
Stage One – Initial Application
In order to receive Social Security benefits, you must first apply. Begin by calling the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 1-800-772-1213. Once you contact Social Security, you have established a protective filing date for your application for benefits. You will then be scheduled for an interview with a claims representative at a local Social Security office. If you are unable to go to your local Social Security office, you can have a telephone interview.
Florida Disability Application Lawyer
Tampa Bay Social Security Disability lawyer, Nancy L. Cavey, knows that completely and accurately filling out your disability claim application can increase your chances that your claim will be accepted. Nancy Cavey, who has over 37+ years experience with the Social Security Disability process, concentrates her practice on representing clients seeking Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI). Getting our free book “Your Rights to Social Security Disability Benefits“ will help you understand the processing of filling out your disability forms, the process of obtaining benefits and your rights if you are denied Social Security Disability Benefits.
Filing out the disability application requires preparation! You must put together a list of your employers for the last 15 years, what your job duties were, what medical providers you have seen for your medical condition, what medication you are taking and what prevents you from working. Nancy Cavey, a Florida Disability Application lawyer, will assist you in completing your disability claims application and will obtain the necessary information to explain how your medical condition entitles you to Social Security disability benefits (SSDI benefits).
Your Medical History
The Social Security Administration (SSA) must understand your medical condition- they must picture how your condition makes you unable to work. Saying you can’t work is NOT enough to win your claim. At The Law Offices of Nancy L. Cavey, your Tampa Social Security lawyer, we obtain your medical records and have your doctor complete a Residual Functional Capacity form that explains your limitations. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will never send your doctor one of these forms and most doctors don’t even know what these forms look like! We review your medical records and help develop the medical evidence that paints the complete picture of your medical condition.
Work History and Education
Being unable to find a job or even hold a job isn’t enough to qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will determine if you can go back to the lightest job you held in the last 15 years. It is important to show what your job duties have been and how your disability makes you unable to perform those job duties or duties you are qualified to perform. Nancy Cavey, a St. Petersburg, Florida Social Security Disability Lawyer, will fully develop your work history and education for the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Ability to Do Other Work
If you are unable to do the lightest job you have held in the last 15 years, you still must show that your age, education, and limitations prevent you from finding employment in the national economy or that you have the experience necessary to change careers. Florida Disability Application lawyer Nancy Cavey gathers the medical and vocational evidence the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks for to meet this test.
A claims examiner at Social Security will make an initial determination as to whether or not you qualify for benefits and the State Disability Determination Section will make a medical decision on your case. You will be sent a written decision in approximately 90 to 120 days following your application. If you do not hear from Social Security within this time frame it is a good idea to call and check on the status of your claim.View More About The Application Process Here
Stage Two – Reconsideration and Claims Denial
If your initial application is denied, you should receive a written notice from Social Security. This notice states why Social Security denied your claim. In Nancy’s experience, a large number of valid claims are improperly denied Social Security disability benefits at this stage. To continue your claim, you must file paperwork asking for “reconsideration” of your case within 60 days after receiving the written notice of denial. You should advise Social Security about any evidence that might benefit you. Do not be surprised or discouraged if your claim is denied at reconsideration – very few claims are granted at this level.
At Cavey Law, a St. Petersburg, Florida Social Security Disability Lawyer, can help you prepare and file a Request for Reconsideration and help develop the necessary evidence to be submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Nancy can help with the Florida Disability Claim Appeals process and provide you with disability claims appeal process if you have been denied social security benefits.
In some circumstances, your case will be referred to an adjudication officer (AO) at the state agency. This AO will summarize the evidence in your case prior to sending your file to the Judge for hearing. In some cases, Cavey Law can work with the adjudication officer to get your claim allowed. Otherwise, your case will proceed to hearing. This “AO Program” is a pilot program and is only available in a limited number of claims at the discretion of Social Security.View More About the Request for Reconsideration Stage Here
Stage Three – Disability Hearing
If you receive a notice of denial of your request for Reconsideration, you must file a request for a hearing within 60 days. Since your hearing is your best opportunity to win benefits, and because you will be appearing before a judge, it is wise to have Cavey Law, a Social Security attorney, working on your case. Social Security’s own statistics show that claimants who have lawyers win more often than claimants who go to hearings alone.View More About the Disability Hearing Stage
Stage Four – Appeals Council
If you lost at the hearing level, you can appeal to the “Appeals Council” and ultimately to Federal Court. The Appeals Council accepts new material evidence and written arguments in support of an appeal. You must file your request for review within 60 days of your receipt of the hearing denial notice. The Council will only reverse or remand a hearing decision for a limited number of reasons. An experienced attorney will know how to argue on your behalf before the Appeals Council.View More About the Appeals Stage
Stage Five – Federal Court
Even if you lose all of your administrative appeals, an attorney can still represent you in an appeal to the federal district court. Again, this appeal must be filed within 60 days of your receipt of the Appeals Council denial notice. Unlike the previous stages of appeal, an appeal to the Federal District Court is an adversarial proceeding and a United States Attorney will defend the Social Security Administration and their decision in court. Like the Appeals Council, a District Court Judge will only reverse or remand a hearing decision for a limited number of reasons. An experienced attorney will know how to argue a case in District Court, but very few cases are reversed or remanded at this level of appeal.
You can also file a new application for benefits. However, filing a new application is not the same thing as appealing a denial, and you could lose benefits by not appealing a denial. In some instances, failure to appeal a denial can even result in your becoming ineligible to receive further benefits.
Social Security Disability Questions Answered
How Much Money Can You Have in the Bank on Social Security Disability?
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program does not limit the amount of money you can have in a bank account. This is because, unlike the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, SSDI does not include any resource limits. Still, SSDI may question you about how much money you have in a bank account when you have a certain amount. The funds in a bank account may be reviewed or questioned during the application process or during a periodic review of a disability claim.
Working while you are on SSDI may also call any funds in your bank account into question. This is because, within the program, there are limits on substantial gainful activity. For 2023, thesubstantial gainful activity limit is $1,470 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,460 per month for statutorily blind individuals. It is always recommended to document the source of the deposits made into a bank account.
How Long Does it Take to Get Social Security Disability?
No one can determine exactly how long it will take before you start receiving Social Security disability benefits. Generally speaking, however, it will take approximately three to five months before you receive a decision from the Social Security Administration. (SSA). The timeline is largely dependent on how long it takes to obtain your medical records and other evidence that will help the SSA make its decision.
The SSA can expedite the process for certain individuals who suffer from certain medical conditions, those who are experiencing hardship, and members of the United States military. TheCompassionate Allowances program expedites the applications of individuals who have specific serious illnesses and injuries. Individuals who have a terminal illness are also automatically given consideration for faster processing and determination of a claim.
The above are just two options for expediting an SSDI claim. It is always recommended that you work with a Tampa SSDI attorney who can advise on the different ways to expedite the application process.
At What Age Does Disability Become Social Security?
You can continue to receive SSDI as long as you suffer from a disability. If you are receiving benefits and you turn 65 years old, you will no longer receive SSDI benefits, but you will start to receive retirement benefits. Essentially, once you turn the retirement age of 65 years old, your SSDI benefits will convert to Social Security retirement benefits.
There are times when SSDI benefits may stop before you turn 65 years old. This can occur if you start earning a higher income or you fail to continue properly documenting your disability. To keep receiving benefits until you reach retirement age, follow the below tips:
- Continue seeing your doctor regularly and document how your disability is preventing you from working.
- If you receive a notice concerning a Continuing Disability Review, respond as soon as possible.
- Inform the SSA any time there is a change in your work situation such as if you begin or stop working, your wages change, or you pay for expenses related to your disability that are necessary for your work.
How Long Does a Social Security Disability Review Take?
Depending on whether you received the long or short form, a social security disability review can take anywhere from one to six months. If you must submit to a full medical review, the process may take even longer.
The SSA will regularly review your medical condition if you are receiving disability benefits. The agency calls these a ‘continuing disability review,’ or CDR. The frequency with which the SSA will review your medical condition will depend on the likelihood of you making a full recovery and being able to go back to work.
Once the SSA has determined you are due for a review, they will send you the necessary forms in the mail. Within the forms you will have to answer questions about your health status, the activities you participate in, how often you see a physician, and others. You must complete this form and mail it back to the SSA. You will receive either a short form, also known as a mailer, or a long form.
The majority of people who receive SSDI will receive the short form. However, if your condition is expected to improve in the short term, you will probably receive the long form.
If you have received the short form, completed it, and sent it back to the SSA, you will receive a letter one to three months after the mailing date. If you have received a long form, you will likely have to submit it to a full medical review and this can take several months. In rarer cases, individuals receiving SSDI sometimes receive a short form and then a long form. In these instances, the process can take six months or more.
How Many Hours Can You Work With Social Security Disability?
When determining whether you are eligible for benefits, the SSA will evaluate whether you are engaging in substantial gainful activity. In other words, the agency will determine whether you can financially support yourself. The agency will not necessarily consider how many hours you work but instead, the amount of income you are earning per month.
If you earn more than the substantial gain activity limits, it can negatively impact the SSDI benefits you receive. Those limits are $1,470 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,460 per month for statutorily blind individuals in 2023.
The number of hours you work may be taken into consideration if you are self-employed. Self-employed individuals are usually allowed to work up to 45 hours per month while continuing to receive SSDI.
What is the Elimination Period for Social Security Disability Benefits?
The elimination period, also known as the waiting period, is the amount of time the SSA will use to determine if you have a qualifying condition. The elimination period starts on the day your injury, illness, or condition becomes disabling. The period will run for five months consecutively. If you still have a disabling injury, illness, or condition after this time, and you satisfy other qualifying criteria, you can start to receive SSDI benefits. If your condition improves and is no longer disabling after five months, the SSA will likely deny your application.
Don’t Give Up! Contact the Tampa Social Security Disability Lawyers
If you have any questions or have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, we will review your case and denial letter at no charge and suggest an appropriate course of action. Contact our Florida Social Security Disability law office for your free initial phone consultation of your case today by calling (727) 894-3188.
It is important to think of the Social Security Disability Insurance application process not as an application, but rather as a trial. You will be required to prove the extent of your injuries, and you will be required to show exactly why these injuries are keeping you from working.
Just as you wouldn’t think of going to trial without an attorney, you shouldn’t consider attempting the Social Security Disability Insurance application without legal counsel. If you are suffering from a disability and can’t return to work, there is a great deal at stake in getting your application approved.
The Law Offices of Nancy L. Cavey, your Tampa Social Security lawyers, are some of the foremost experts on Social Security law in the Tampa area. We know exactly what it takes to get a disability claim approved, and we take pride in helping you get through the process successfully.
If you or a loved one is attempting to get through the Social Security Disability Insurance application process, contact our offices for a free legal assessment today.
The Law Offices of Nancy L. Cavey serves clients all over the state of Florida and throughout the Tampa Bay area, including St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Tampa, Brandon, Bradenton and Sarasota. The firm serves clients in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Manatee County and Sarasota County, and all counties and cities in Florida.