Social Security Disability Claims
Of the nearly two million residents who live in the state of Mississippi, about seven percent currently receive monthly Social Security disability benefits. Thousands more will apply each and every year to receive Social Security disability benefits. A large portion of these applicants will receive a denial of their initial application—denied disability claims are far more common (about 70 percent nationwide, about 76 percent in the state of Mississippi) than approved ones, during the initial application phase. Those whose claims are denied will be required to go through the complex and lengthy disability appeals process. Mississippi also tends to deny claims in the first appeal level at an exceedingly high rate, meaning a second appeal becomes practically a necessity.
Qualifications for Receiving SS Disability Benefits
The basic qualifications for receiving Social Security disability benefits are the same in all states, requiring specific medical and non-medical criteria. There are restrictions on earned income, and the applicant must have a severe medical condition (physical or mental). This medical condition must last for at least a fully year, and must be severe enough to prevent the claimant from working at a level which would provide a substantial or gainful income. Under Social Security rules, a person may be considered disabled if they are unable to do work they did prior to the injury or illness, cannot adjust to other types of work due to the medical condition and have a disability which has lasted for a year, is expected to last for at least a year or is expected to result in death.
Some of the qualifying illnesses or injuries under Social Security disability “blue book” rules, include: back injuries, cardiovascular conditions, vision or hearing loss, severe COPD or asthma, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, extreme depression, HIV/AIDS, liver or kidney disease, severe dermatitis and cancer. This is only a partial listing of the qualifying illnesses and injuries, and, in some cases, an illness or injury which is not listed may be approved for disability if the condition severely limits the person’s ability to work and earn a living.
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The process for filing a Social Security disability claim begins at a federal Social Security office, or online, then the claim will be transferred to a Mississippi state disability agency and assigned a disability examiner. The examiner will obtain medical records from every treatment source listed on the initial application. It is crucial to provide full names and addresses of each hospital and physician. By doing so, the examiner is more likely to receive all relevant medical records within a reasonable amount of time. The goals of the examiner are to determine whether the claimant is currently disabled, as well as how far back the disability actually began. The second goal concerns the “onset” of the disability which will have direct bearing on the level of disability back pay the claimant may be eligible to receive.
If the examiner determines the claimant’s condition does not satisfy the requirements for a disability, in that there is no corresponding illness or injury, then the medical records and the claimant’s work history will be looked at in order to determine whether the claim might be approved as a medical vocational allowance. If the impairment significantly affects the claimant’s capacity to perform daily activity and function at work, and if the SSA determines that, given the claimant’s age, education and skills, there is no work he or she can reasonably be expected to do, a medical vocational allowance might be granted. Since few claimants actually meet the criteria for specific illnesses or injuries, the majority of SSA disability benefits are approved under the medical vocational allowance.
Ensuring the initial SS disability application is filled out correctly is critical, as is following the precise steps for the appeals process. The Mississippi disability appeals process can be complicated and exhaustive, taking months to complete. Most applicants are eight or more months into the claim process before reaching the point where a hearing before an ALJ is requested. Depending on where you reside in the state of Mississippi, obtaining that disability hearing could take an additional 362 to 559 days. Working with an experienced Social Security disability attorney can significantly improve your chances of a positive outcome as well as potentially lessening the time you will wait to receive those benefits.
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If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, it is important to understand your legal rights and how to collect all of your worker's compensation benefits. If you have been disabled as a result of that injury, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced attorney immediately. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys fight aggressively for injured employees and their families – to ensure that they receive the money they need to fully recover. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766 or (601) 265-7766.