Are you or a loved one unable to work because of a serious illness or injury in Clearwater, FL? You may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits based on your prior work history. A skilled Clearwater Social Security disability lawyer can help you fight to recover the benefits you need and deserve. 

Our lawyers have helped injury victims recover the fair compensation they need after an accident or illness since 1955. We’ve recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation and are ready to use our experience to your benefit.

Do you need help with a denied Social Security disability application? Contact our law offices in Clearwater, Florida, today at (727) 796-8282 to schedule a free consultation today.

How Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Can Help With a Clearwater Social Security Disability Claim

How Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Can Help With a Clearwater Social Security Disability Claim

The Social Security disability claims process is extremely complex. In fact, it’s so complex that most claims are initially denied. However, the Social Security Administration can make mistakes. Applications are often denied based on a technicality or forgotten document. 

When you’re hurt and suffering, you shouldn’t have to deal with complicated paperwork or the back-and-forth with the insurance companies. Hiring a Clearwater personal injury lawyer can greatly increase your odds of approval.  

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes has been serving clients in Tampa Bay since 1955, making it the oldest personal injury firm in the region. We’ve recovered tens of millions of dollars for the individuals and families that needed it most.

When you hire us, you’ll have a lawyer by your side to:

  • Gather all medical evidence needed to support your SSD application
  • Handle all communications with the Social Security Administration
  • Ensure that your application and additional paperwork is complete and filed correctly 
  • Represent you during the appeals and hearing stages if your initial application is denied
  • Review the SSA’s calculations to make sure you’re receiving the maximum compensation possible

Our Clearwater personal injury attorneys have more than 60 years of experience helping clients like you handle disability cases. Call our law firm in Clearwater, Florida, today to schedule a free consultation and learn more.

Overview of the Social Security Disability System in Clearwater

Federal Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs provide financial assistance to people who are unable to earn a living because of a disability. 

SSDI provides compensation to individuals who are “insured.” Insured status for SSDI purposes is based on your work history.

Injured individuals with sufficient “work credits” may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Supplemental Security Income program is a needs-based program that offers financial help to low-income individuals who are unable to earn a living. SSI benefits may be available in addition to SSD benefits or other retirement benefits.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

There are a few different types of Social Security disability benefits. Depending upon the circumstances, you may be entitled to receive:

  • Disability insurance benefits, which provides benefits to qualifying disabled workers under the SSDI/SSD program
  • Disabled widow/widower benefits (DWB) if you are over the age of 50 and develop a disability within seven years after the death of a spouse
  • Disabled adult child benefits (DAC) for disabled adult children between the ages of 18 and 22, if their parents are deceased or receiving SSD or Social Security retirement benefits

Do you have questions about your SSD options? It’s never too early to seek legal advice. Call our law offices for a free consultation today.

Am I Eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) Benefits?

You can qualify for SSD benefits whether you’re injured in a car accident, in a workplace accident or in a simple slip and fall while walking down the street. The nature of the accident is irrelevant in establishing eligibility.

Injured parties may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if:

  • They are under the age of 65
  • You have earned work credits by paying taxes over the years
  • A medical, cognitive, psychological condition prevents you from working for at least 12 months
  • The condition is likely to prevent you from working for at least 12 additional months 

Certain family members of disabled individuals may also be eligible for SSD benefits, including spouses, divorced spouses, and children.

How is “Disability” Determined for SSD Purposes?

There are a variety of ways to establish disability for SSDI purposes. As an initial matter, you must demonstrate that you are totally unable to perform any type of substantial work. If your injury or illness allows you to work in a limited capacity, your SSD claim can be denied.

As an initial matter, the Social Security Administration (SSA) imposes an earnings cap. In 2021, if you’re earning more than $1,310 per month, you cannot be considered “disabled” for purposes of the SSD program.

Certain types of impairments automatically qualify you for SSD benefits. These are listed on the SSA website and include:

  • Traumatic brain injury and other neurological disorders
  • PTSD
  • Certain types of cancers
  • Certain types of musculoskeletal disorders, including arthritis, degenerative disc disease, severe pain, etc.
  • Chronic pain
  • Cardiovascular issues, such as heart failure and coronary artery disease
  • Certain respiratory illnesses, such as COPD
  • Blindness and other visual disorders
  • Immune system disorders
  • Digestive system disorders, such as gastrointestinal hemorrhage, hepatic (liver) dysfunction, inflammatory bowel disease, short bowel syndrome, and malnutrition
  • And more

You may qualify for SSD benefits even if your specific condition is not listed on the SSA website. You may qualify if your condition is substantially similar to a listed condition.

If your impairment is not similar to a listed condition, the SSA will conduct a detailed assessment of your medical condition. They’ll review your medical records and assess your ability to work based on your specific impairment. That might mean determining whether your physical and cognitive limitations are severe enough to prevent you from working.

If you’re unable to return to your previous line of work, the evaluation will also examine whether there are other types of work that you may be able to perform.

The process of determining whether your condition is sufficiently severe can be time-consuming and invasive. An experienced lawyer can help you navigate the application process and protect your legal rights. If you need help, call Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes to schedule your free case review today.

Have I Earned Enough Work Credits to Qualify for Social Security Disability?

A serious disability alone isn’t enough to qualify for SSDI. You must have also earned sufficient work credits. Workers generally earn up to four work credits each year. Work credits are based on your annual wages or self-employment income.

The amount of compensation you need to qualify for a work credit changes every year. In 2021, you’ll earn one work credit for every $1,470 in wages or income you earn. However, the maximum number of credits you can earn in a year remains at four.

The number of work credits required for qualification depends on your age when you became disabled. Most workers need at least 40 work credits to qualify. Twenty of those credits must be earned in the prior ten-year period.

Younger workers may qualify based on:

  • Six work credits earned during the prior three-year period if you were under age 24
  • Workers between ages 24 and 31 can qualify if they work at least half of the time between age 21 and becoming disabled

It can be difficult to know whether you qualify for benefits under these complex rules. Our Clearwater Social Security disability attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes can help you understand whether you’ve earned enough work credits to qualify for benefits.

What Can I Do if My Social Security Application Was Denied in Florida?

Most Social Security disability benefits applications are denied. According to SSA data, only between 20% and 25% of all initial applications are approved without challenge.

More applications are approved after the applicant files a Request for Reconsideration or Request for Hearing.

Your claim can be denied for any number of reasons. Some of the most common reasons for denial include claims that:

  • Your disability is not expected to last 12 months
  • Your impairment is not sufficiently severe
  • You’re able to work in some capacity
  • You’re able to return to your prior job
  • Your application lacked required medical evidence
  • You failed to provide requested documentation
  • Your earnings are too high
  • You failed to follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations

If your SSD application was denied, you have options. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complex appeals process that follows after an initial application is denied. 

How Long Do I Have to File an Appeal if My Social Security Disability Application Was Denied in Florida?

You only have 60 days to file an appeal with the Social Security Administration if the SSA denied your initial application. If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, you have another 60 days to file a Request for Hearing.

Contact a Clearwater Social Security Disability Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Do you have questions about your right to SSD benefits? Call an experienced Clearwater Social Security disability lawyer at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes to schedule a free consultation today. We can help with your initial application and can also help you file an appeal if your claim was denied.