Social Security Disability

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Social Security Disability Attorneys in Cleveland, Ohio

Social Security benefits can be paid 1) to adults with permanent disabilities that make them unable to earn a living and 2) to children under the age of 18 who become temporarily or permanently disabled. The number of qualifying disabilities is fairly large, and the application process is straightforward (if time-consuming).

Actually getting approval to receive payments through the programs known as Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), though, can take months of interviews and administrative law hearings. Suing the government may even be necessary. Experienced Social Security lawyers with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman have helped hundreds of clients navigate the SSD and SSI process, and we may be able to assist you as you fight to receive the government benefits you need.

Know What Social Security Considers a Disability

The full list of generally recognized physical and mental disabilities appears on the Social Security website. The agency also considers special circumstances on an individual basis, both at the time of application and during appeals of denied benefits. Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman SSD/SSI attorneys have a history of helping people who might otherwise fall through the cracks in the Social Security system.

Understand How to Apply and Qualify for SSD and SSI

The first step for any person whose physical or mental state makes it difficult to work for wages is to complete and submit an application with the U.S. Social Security Administration. You can do this online or request a paper form from your local Social Security Office. The downtown Cleveland office is here. Other offices exist in nearly every Ohio county.

SSD payments arrive monthly and are set according to the beneficiary’s age and past earnings. SSI payments arrive 12 times throughout the year, with the amount based on the degree of disability and access to other forms of financial support.

Adults who can receive SSD benefits must meet these criteria:

  • Be at least 18
  • Not currently collecting other Social Security payments
  • Suffer a physical or mental condition that prevents you from working
  • Not been denied SSD within the past 60 days

Adults who qualify for SSI include people who are

  • Younger than 65
  • U.S. citizens and residents of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • U.S. nationals living aboard not otherwise disqualified
  • Some permanent resident aliens
  • Blind
  • Physically disabled
  • Mentally disabled
  • Suffering from mental illness (including addiction and depression)
  • Able to show financial need due to low income

A child can qualify to receive SSI when his or her parents or guardians can show that the youngster is

  • Younger than 18, or 22 if enrolled in school
  • Unmarried
  • Not a head of household or taking care of other children
  • Blind, physically disabled or mentally disabled (including autism)
  • In need due to low household income

Other requirements exist, so make sure to fill out the SSD/SSI application carefully and to submit all the requested proofs of disability and economic hardship. In particular, adults between the ages of 50 and 62 (i.e., early retirement) will need extensive proof of past income and Social Security contributions. Some forms of benefits also require applicants to show they have resided in the United States for 30 consecutive days before applying.

Be Prepared for Lengthy, Complex Hearings

Getting approved to begin receiving Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income can require going through as many as four rounds of reviews and hearings. Working with a Cleveland-based Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman Social Security lawyer at each stage may prevent unnecessary delays and unjust denials.

The first review, called reconsideration, is usually performed by a Disability Determination Services claims examiner working out of your local Social Security office. Expect an initial denial unless you or the child for whom are applying has a profound disability.

During the second stage, a hearing is scheduled with an administrative law judge who goes through your application from scratch. The judge often asks for additional evidence of disability and financial need, and both you and your lawyer can present testimony. A vocational expert typically offers expert advice on the merits of your claim that you cannot work. Waiting for the hearing can take months, but filing a request for expedited consideration of a denied SSD/SSI claim can reduce that period for applicants in significant need.

Judges hearing disability cases often grant benefits. Regardless of the decision, however, the ruling and all the evidence then go to an Appeals Council, whose members investigate whether the judge made any procedural errors. If the council issues no ruling, the judge’s decision to award benefits stands and the application process is complete.

Sometimes, the council returns the case to the administrative law judge with instruction to collect more evidence or use different criteria to reach a decision. A third outcome is that the council issues its own decision, either reversing the judge’s denial of benefits or overturning a ruling in the applicant’s favor.

Claims denied following an Appeals Council review can be appealed by filing a lawsuit in federal court. Seeking advice and counsel from a lawyer who specializes in SSD/SSI is essential for anyone who finds it necessary to sue the Social Security Administration.

Our Cleveland Social Security Disability Lawyers Offer Free Consultations

To recap, applying for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income is simple, but qualifying can be difficult. Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman attorneys can help you avoid mistakes and delays that prevent you or a loved one from receiving benefits. Contact us in Cleveland or at one of our other Ohio offices for a free consultation before you encounter problems in the application and appeals process.

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