Michigan Social Security Lawyers
Do you need the assistance of a Michigan social security lawyer? Contact the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates for reliable legal assistance.
The average worker in Michigan has a 3 in 10 chance of becoming disabled before they retire and studies show that more than 11 million Americans collect approximately $143 billion in Social Security Disability insurance claims each year. This number continues to increase as more and more people suffer life-altering injuries that render them unable to work.
If you suffer a life-changing illness or injury, and you are unable to work, you may be entitled to SSD benefits as well. The unfortunate truth is that obtaining social security disability benefits is often an uphill battle. Victims can file for benefits and spend years waiting for their claims to be approved.
Many people are denied benefits initially and have to go through a lengthy court battle. Our Michigan social security lawyers are prepared to fight on your behalf so you get the benefits you deserve. We will advocate on your behalf every step of the way and keep you informed and confident concerning what is happening along the way.
Our Michigan social security lawyers at the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates are available to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss your case and help you get the benefits you deserve. We can help you overcome the challenges that stand in your way of receiving the insurance and benefits you are entitled to. Our lawyers have decades of experience helping individuals get the benefits they deserve. Contact us for a free case evaluation, and we’ll help you figure out if you qualify for benefits.
What is Social Security Disability?
Social security Disability is available to people who have paid sufficiently into the Social Security Disability Insurance system and have become unable to work as a result of a disability before the age of retirement. If you have a substantial work history and you have suffered an injury or illness that makes you unable to work for at least 12 months, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.
Some people may be confused about what is considered “disabled” when it comes to being eligible for benefits. Our Michigan social security attorneys can explain. Simply put, being disabled means you can no longer work at your current job, due to an injury, medical condition, or mental illness.
If you also cannot produce at any other type of job due to lack of knowledge or due to your disability, then you should qualify for benefits. There are exceptions to these conditions, of course, and our lawyers in Michigan can walk you through every detail, including cases related to:
- Disabled children
- Widows who are disabled
The amount of benefits you are eligible for depends on a number of factors, one of which is how much you made at your job. You also must be unable to work for at least a year due to your disability, and your job must have been covered by Social Security. For those on benefits, something called “work incentives” are usually offered, which will offer you Medicare and benefits while you attempt to work once again. However, if Social Security feels you are able to work again and that your disability improved significantly, your benefits may stop. Our Michigan disability attorneys at Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates understand the complexities that go into a disability claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Social Security is More Than Just Retirement
Imagine for a second if you became disabled and could no longer work. What would you do for income? How would you take care of yourself and those you love? These are important questions for you to consider.
Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal program designed to provide persons who have become disabled and can no longer work with a stream of income to support themselves and their families. The taxes you pay into the program are designed to cover you in case of a disability.
Supplemental Security Income provides benefits to persons who are disabled but have not worked or have not earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, regardless of their age. The Social Security Administration pays out SSDI and SSI benefits to millions of Americans every year, and every year, there are thousands more who will become disabled and need these payments to survive. However, the process for obtaining SSDI has become evermore burdensome to the average American.
Right now, there are nearly 700,000 in the process of obtaining SSDI. These people have already been denied disability, and are in the stages of appealing their decision. The SSA denies nearly 75% of all first-time claimants. The average wait for a hearing challenging this initial denial is 14 ½ months.
In the end, the SSA only approves around 34% of all disability claims. The time and effort it takes to file, prepare, and wait for a hearing is a burden too great for most Americans. Many simply give up hope after their initial denial letter arrives. Obtaining the services of an attorney is not just good advice, it’s a necessity.
The Process of Applying for SSD Benefits
When it comes to receiving Social Security Disability benefits, there are five basic steps to perform during the application process. As you go through each step, it is crucial that you keep detailed paperwork that supports your claims. This can include medical records from your doctors, surgeons, or others who have treated you. Psychiatric reports, evaluations, hospital records, any clinical records, and lists of your medications will be imperative during the process of your application. Whether you are applying for SSD or SSI benefits, you will be applying for the benefits through the Social Security Administration.
- Step One: The first step that the Social Security Administration will take is to establish whether you are working and, if you are, how much your gross earnings have averaged every month since you suffered the disabling illness or injury. If you are found to have earned a specific amount of income, you will be deemed as Engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity and therefore not considered to be disabled. There are some exceptions to the rule, which involve knowledge of the Cost of Living Adjustments changes as well as other SSA guidelines and laws. Our lawyers can help you understand whether your work would allow for a finding of being disabled by SSA’s rules.
- Step Two: The second step the SSA takes is to evaluate how serious your disability is. Working with our Michigan social security lawyers can make this process go much smoother for you. Our lawyers will work to ensure you have all of the necessary documentation to prove your disability and how it will cause significant work-related limitations that are expected to last for at least one year or are expected to result in death. Any missing evidence or not having adequate supportive statements from your doctors can result in a denial of your claim. Our lawyers work diligently to ensure your fill is fully developed and all of the supporting evidence and documents are requested and submitted with your claim.
- Step Three: After examining your record, if the SSA is still not sure that you are considered to be “disabled” by their guidelines, your application will be sent out to a Disability Determination Service worker. This state-level agency works under the Michigan Department of Health Services. While at the DDS, a worker will examine the claim and determine whether or not you meet the standards to qualify for disability benefits. Your diagnosis and health conditions will be compared with a sizable list of serious ailments that prevent someone from working. These disorders can range in nature from immune disorders to other problems that impact a person’s hearing, vision, breathing, mobility, cognition, and social functions. If your condition is not deemed medically equal to the severity of any of the listed impairments, the SSA will continue the process to determine if you do qualify for the benefits. The rules and regulations that guide the SSA are constantly changing, which is why it is crucial that you work with a skilled legal team that is well-versed in the laws, guidelines, and regulations.
- Step Four: This step will involve assessing whether your injuries, disabilities, and impairments will interfere with your ability to perform the duties of your most recent job. A review of the previous 15-years of employment history will be used to make this determination. If the SSA finds that you can return to one of your past jobs despite your injury or illness despite the limitations you have, then you will be found “not disabled” and the process will end. If you are found to be unable to return to any of your past jobs, the process will continue to the final step. This part of the analysis is especially imperative for people who are over the age of 50.
- Step Five: During this step, the Social Security Administration will figure out whether there are any jobs that are suitable for you, even if you are unable to perform the work that you have previously done. During this assessment, your age, past work history, the highest level of education, and transferable skills will be explored and analyzed. If a suitable job is found for you, even if it is in a completely different field, your claim will be denied.
Many people are denied the benefits that they truly need and deserve. Being denied benefits during the initial application process can result in a delay of one to two years, or more, for you to get your benefits. Being unable to work and stuck with no source of income can be incredibly challenging to deal with. For this reason, it is crucial that you reach out to a Michigan social security lawyer as soon as possible. Our lawyers can help you get through all five of these steps so you can get the benefits you need and deserve in a timely manner.
The Appeal Process
If you apply for benefits and you are deemed “not disabled” and your application is denied, you are able to appeal the decision. You can also request a hearing with an administrative law judge. It is important that you file your appeal in a timely manner in order for your application to be considered.
When it comes to filing an appeal, you are only able to do so for a medical denial. This means that you were denied benefits because the Social Security Administration believes that your medical condition is not severe enough to warrant you missing work. In order to file an appeal, you must submit the forms within 60 days of the date of your denial letter. You can submit the letter in person or by US mail. In many cases, claimants retain the assistance of a skilled and knowledgeable social security disability lawyer in Michigan to help with this process.
Once your appeal is filed, your case will be forwarded to the Office of Hearing Operations while waiting for your hearing date. From the date of filing your appeal, it can take anywhere from 12 months to 24 months for your hearing to be scheduled. There are some OHOs that have even longer waiting times for claimants.
Once you receive a hearing date, there are some things that you need to do to prepare for your hearing. You must submit all updated medical records for the judge to review. It is crucial that this information is submitted in advance of your hearing so the judge has adequate time to review it. As of May 1, 2017, the SSA requires all written evidence to be submitted no later than five business days before the date of your hearing.
While working with the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates, you can rest assured knowing that our team will have all of the paperwork filed on time and accurately to ensure you have the best chances at your hearing.
At the Social Security Disability appeal hearing, the judge will take testimony from your regarding your ability to work. They will want to gain a sense of what you are capable of and they will want to evaluate whether or not you are able to return to work in any capacity. After you testify, the judge will question a Vocational Expert who will also be present at the hearing. The judge will ask the EV if they could place you in any job in the national or regional economy that is able to be performed with your specific limitations. Our lawyers will ask additional questions that help support your claim and we will cross-examine the VE if needed.
After your hearing, the judge will make a decision within two to three months. You will receive a written copy of the judge’s decision in the mail. If you are approved, you will be able to follow up with the SSA to receive your monthly benefits. If you are denied, you can either file a new application for benefits or you can appeal your existing appeal to the Appeals Council.
Our lawyers will help you move forward so you can secure the benefits that you are entitled to. Contact our Michigan social security disability lawyers today to get started on your case.
Let Our Lawyers Help You Get the Benefits You Need and Deserve
From filing your initial claim to representing you at your hearing, our dedicated attorneys will fight for your disability rights and take the burden of fighting the SSA off your shoulders. We can interview you at your home, collect your medical records, file your initial claim and appeal, and represent you at your hearing. By working with a Michigan social security attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates, you know that you are giving yourself the very best chance at collecting the benefits you need and deserve.
If you need assistance with social security or have a disability case, contact us for a free evaluation by calling (248) 886-8650. Our Michigan social security lawyers can meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss your case and help you get the benefits you are entitled to. We have offices in White Lake, Flint, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Southfield, Lansing, and Bay City.