A disabling injury or medical condition can happen without notice and can catch you off guard. A disability can prevent you from returning to work and doing all the things you once did. Not being able to work and provide for yourself and your loved ones can be challenging and stressful. However, you may have a chance to get financial assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Navigating the Social Security Disability process is daunting. With nearly 70% of all initial claims being denied, it is easy to become frustrated or feel intimidated. Having a pragmatic and knowledgeable lawyer on your side will help you avoid many of the mistakes applicants commonly make. Furthermore, our office is also available to help you appeal your case if your initial application was denied.
If you or a loved one has a debilitating disability and cannot work, you can apply to get your Social Security benefits in Arkansas. Our Arkansas disability benefits lawyer Ken Kieklak can help you file your claim and fight for your benefits. To learn more about our services, call and schedule a free, confidential consultation at (479) 316-0438.
Social Security Disability Benefits Available in Arkansas
The SSA provides disabled people with financial assistance known as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This program has qualification requirements that all petitioners must meet to get their benefits.
The fact you may suffer a condition or physical impairment doesn’t mean the SSA will automatically accept your claim. As you will learn through this article, most of the SSA applications are rejected on the first try. It is always in your best interest to hire an Arkansas disability benefits attorney who can guide you and help you understand what to expect from the process.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits in Arkansas
In order to qualify for SSDI in Arkansas, it is essential to explain how this benefits program works. SSDI is available to people who have accumulated enough working credits and have paid their FICA taxes for a specified number of years. Your working credits accumulate at four credits per year rate. If you have enough working credits and get disabled, you may qualify for your SSDI benefits.
The SSA will analyze your claim to determine whether you are eligible for your Social Security disability benefits. To reach their determination, the SSA will utilize a five-step sequential assessment which includes:
As we mentioned, part of your qualification process requires the disclosure of your finances. Typically, the SSA will analyze your finances to determine whether you engage in what is known as substantial gainful activity (SGA). If your monthly income goes beyond the SSA’s SGA threshold, you may not qualify for your benefits.
If you are filing for SSDI benefits in Arkansas, your SGA must be $1,310 – for non-blind individuals – and $2,190 for blind petitioners. In short, if your monthly income goes beyond these thresholds, you will not be eligible for SSDI. There have been instances where SSDI claims examiners have made mistakes when determining whether you meet the SGA limits. Our Arkansas disability benefits attorneys can help you set the record straight with the SSA.
Your Disability’s Extent
To get your disability benefits in Arkansas, your injury must meet the SSA’s definition of “severe.” According to the SSA, a condition or disability is severe if it is expected to last for at least one year or is expected to cause death. Additionally, your condition should prevent you from performing most of your everyday duties. If your condition is not severe in the SSA’s eyes, you will not be able to qualify for your disability benefits.
SSA Blue Book
The SSA has a comprehensive list of medical conditions and disabilities that may qualify for SSDI. This list is known as the Blue Book, and it categorizes many different types of conditions that may grant you the right to your benefits. If your condition is not listed “verbatim,” you should not be discouraged. Many different disabilities are not necessarily listed on the Blue Book but are similar to the ones already there. Under these circumstances, it is possible that your condition may qualify. Our Arkansas Social Security disability benefits attorneys can help you.
Residual Functional Capacity
After identifying your disability as one that may be eligible for SSDI benefits, the SSA will evaluate whether there are things you can still do despite your disability. This is what is known as the residual functional capacity (RFC). If you can still perform tasks at your workplace, you won’t be eligible for benefits.
The SSA can go even deeper in your claim evaluation by determining whether you can do any other kind of work despite your disability. If they find you can do things on another job, they may deny your benefits.
As you can see, the evaluation process for this application is strict. It is always in your best interest to hire an Arkansas disability benefits attorney who can help you prove your disability requires SSDI assistance.
The Difference Between Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income
The Social Security Administration oversees two different programs that provide benefits for disabled individuals in Arkansas. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are significantly different. Each program was designed for a specific purpose. The primary difference is that SSDI is available to those individuals who have paid into the Social Security system through their payroll taxes. If you have not accumulated enough work credits, you will not be eligible for SSDI. On the other hand, SSI is specifically for individuals who have a low income and limited resources. Work credits are not required to be eligible for SSI.
Many people tend to group both programs under the single category of disability benefits. However, they are two distinct governmental programs. While both are administered by the SSA and share the same medical eligibility for disabilities, the two programs are very different.
Social Security Disability Insurance
As stated above, SSDI is funded through federal payroll taxes. The easiest way to think of SSDI is as an insurance policy that the government maintains should you become disabled. A recipient will pay their monthly premiums through the taxes. In return, the benefits will be available if you should suffer a debilitating medical condition and are unable to work.
A potential beneficiary must have earned enough work credits over their employment history to qualify for SSDI. Additionally, they must be under the age of sixty-five. An employee could earn up to four work credits a year. Typically, eligibility for SSDI requires at least twenty work credits. Additionally, if an individual is receiving SSDI benefits for two years, they will qualify for Medicare.
Your children and spouse could also be eligible for partial benefits under your Social Security account. Under certain circumstances, these auxiliary benefits are available to your stepchildren, adoptive children, or grandchildren. It is crucial to speak with our experienced Arkansas Social Security lawyers to determine if your family is eligible. It is also important to note that to be the primary beneficiary of SSDI, you must be over eighteen years old.
There is a mandated five-month waiting period to receive your SSDI benefits. This means that no matter when you apply, the SSA will not pay any benefits for the first five months after the date you become disabled. The amount of monthly benefits you receive will be based on your earning history.
Typically, the approval average is slightly higher for initial SSDI applicants than it is for those applying for SSI. One of the reasons for this is that SSDI applicants were earning a living before becoming disabled and were regularly seeing a physician or could afford legal counsel to assist with the application process. Because eligibility for both programs rests on proving a medical condition, failure to see a doctor regularly creates an additional hurdle that is difficult to overcome. To improve your chances of approval, you should retain our Arkansas Social Security Disability lawyers.
Supplemental Security Income
Unlike SSDI, Supplemental Security Income is a program based solely on need. The SSA will thoroughly review an applicant’s income, assets, and resources to determine eligibility. SSI is funded through the general tax fund and not the Social Security trust fund. A person’s work history is not a determining criterion. If you are an individual, you must have less than $2,000 in assets. If you are a part of a couple, the amount increases to $3,000. The assets that the SSA considers include cash, bank accounts, vehicles, personal property, and life insurance. Your home is not considered an asset when determining resources.
If a disabled individual meets the financial requirements for SSI, they are also entitled to receive Medicaid. Most people who are eligible for SSI also qualify for other assistance, including food stamps. The amount a person receives depends on where they reside and their other monthly income. Unlike SSDI, there is no mandatory wait period. SSI benefits will begin on the first of the month when the application is first submitted.
Appealing a Disability Claim Denial in Arkansas
The SSA is cautious with the number of claims they approve. Almost 70% of all claims filed with the SSA will be denied. This means you only have nearly a 30% chance of getting your benefits. However, if your claim was denied, there are still ways to fight for your benefits. You can file an appeal to have your case re-evaluated. Fighting for your SSDI denial is possible. Your Arkansas disability benefits attorney can help you with all these legal matters.
How Much Does a Disability Attorney Cost?
If someone is disabled or if their income is low enough to qualify for SSI, the thought of paying an attorney might appear to be an unmanageable expense. However, there are some things you should consider. Most Social Security Disability attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means that unless your application is successful, your attorney will not be paid. Therefore, your attorney is as motivated as you are to have your benefits approved.
Furthermore, under Federal law, attorney fees are limited to 25% of your back pay and will not exceed $6,000. It is important to remember that the payment is based on your back pay – not your monthly benefits. If there is no back pay available, then your attorney will receive no payment. However, if this is the case, your lawyer is permitted to petition the SSA for a higher fee.
If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, your retroactive back pay will reach back to the date your claim was approved. For Supplemental Security Income, back pay is calculated from the date you applied to the date of approval.
In most cases, the attorney fees will be deducted from your first payment. For instance, suppose your back pay was $10,00 and your monthly benefits were $1,500. In this case, your attorney would be entitled to $2,500. Therefore, your first benefits payment would be $9,000 or $11,500 minus the $2,500 fees. In most cases, the attorney fees are less than the maximum $6,000.
Arkansas Disability Benefits Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one has a disability preventing them from working in Arkansas, we can help. Our Arkansas disability benefits attorney Ken Kieklak can help you fight for your SSDI benefits. Thanks to decades of experience handling SSDI claims in Arkansas, we are able to provide you with the quality legal services you may need. To learn more about our legal services and how we can help you with your claim in a free, confidential consultation, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law today at (479) 316-0438.