Social Security is a federal program created to provide financial safety for seniors, those unable to work because of a disability, and impoverished individuals.
If you have a disability in Missouri that prevents you from working, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can provide the financial security you need.
Unfortunately, the rules and requirements imposed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) make getting benefits difficult for many people with disabilities in Missouri.
The SSA denies 66% of disability claims and appeals.
A Missouri Social Security Disability attorney can help.
The experienced lawyers of Cottrell Law Office understand how to navigate this complex and frustrating process.
We work tirelessly for our clients, to get them the disability benefits they’re entitled to.
Do You Qualify for Missouri Disability Benefits?
To qualify for disability benefits, you must meet the SSA criteria for the type of benefits you seek.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
To qualify for these benefits, you must have worked enough years and paid enough Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes to become fully insured by SSDI.
These disability insurance benefits are available to disabled workers, disabled adult children, and widowed or divorced disabled spouses of anyone who qualifies.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
If you have not contributed enough FICA taxes to qualify for SSDI, you may qualify for supplemental security income (SSI) if you fall within the income and asset guidelines.
These benefits are available to impoverished seniors and disabled persons.
How Does the SSA Define Disability?
The SSA deems you disabled if you have a mental or physical impairment that prevents you from working.
The condition must qualify under the SSA definition of life-threatening, or it must be severe enough to prevent you from working for at least one year.
To obtain benefits, you must demonstrate that your condition falls within the SSA stated guidelines for disabilities.
The SSA uses a list of acceptable impairments commonly known as the Blue Book.
If the Blue Book lists your condition or impairment, it may be easier to receive approval for disability benefits.
Even if the Blue Book does not list your condition, it is possible to obtain benefits by submitting sufficient proof of your disability in your benefits application.
Documenting an SSDI claim is arguably the most difficult—and critical—aspect of the process. The SSA bases its decision for approval or denial on the strength of your documentation. Contact an experienced social security disability attorney in Missouri to help you through this process.
Social Security Benefits for the Impoverished
SSI benefits are available for individuals who are blind, disabled, or seniors and have very limited financial resources.
In order to qualify for SSI, you must have little income and few assets. Certain types of assets are exempt and will not be considered during the SSI eligibility process.
Understanding these qualification rules is much easier with the assistance of a knowledgeable social security disability attorney.
If you think you may qualify for SSDI and/or SSI, you need a Missouri social security attorney who understands the Social Security system. Your attorney can assist with the initial application to build a favorable case for you.
To discuss your Social Security benefits case, contact the Joplin, MO Social Security disability attorneys at the Cottrell Law Office.
How Do You Apply for Missouri Social Security Disability Benefits?
All SSDI and SSI claim applications must follow the strict SSA criteria both in content and format.
If you submit an incomplete application or if your supporting documentation does not sufficiently prove your disability, the SSA will deny your claim.
Most denials are the result of an incorrect or incomplete benefits claim. Unless you have an in-depth knowledge of what the SSA is looking for specifically, you might not succeed in getting your benefits approved.
Some of the most common factors that cause your claim to be denied are discussed below.
Unqualified and Inexperienced Physicians
A critical component of your claim is a medical assessment known as a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment.
If you see a doctor who isn’t familiar with the correct way to conduct or document this assessment, it could cause your claim to be denied.
Likewise, if the medical practitioner is not qualified to conduct an RFC assessment, the SSA could reject your claim.
Incomplete or Inapplicable Medical Records
The medical records that support your claim must persuasively document your impairment—and nothing else.
Sending incomplete records or records that do not directly pertain to your impairment can lead to a denial of your claim.
Incorrect SSDI or SSI Claim Format
The SSA is extremely unforgiving if you deviate from the required claim format.
Your claim could be denied because you forgot to check a box or inadvertently used an incorrect form.
An experienced disability lawyer in Missouri can assist you.
Your lawyer understands how to document your impairment and build a persuasive claim. Your lawyer will ensure you see the right doctors and medical providers to obtain supporting documentation.
How a Missouri Social Security Disability Lawyer Can Help
Understanding the process and providing the correct documentation increases the chances of getting your benefits approved.
The Joplin social security disability lawyers of the Cottrell Law Office will work diligently to compile a complete and thorough application for you. Even if the SSA has previously denied your claim, we know how to prepare you for an appeal.
We will refer you to treatment professionals who understand how to conduct the RFC assessment correctly and how to provide the documentation necessary for your SSDI claim.
We will gather other relevant documentation to support your claim, which may include:
- Medical treatment records,
- Medical testing and lab reports,
- Surgical records, and
- Treatment plans.
After you submit your claim, the SSA could require additional records or documents. They may also require you to submit to a compulsory medical examination (CME).
Do not respond to any request from the SSA or submit to any additional medical examinations without first consulting your Missouri social security disability lawyer.
How Do You Appeal Your Claim?
Only 21% of claims are approved at the initial application stage. Therefore, it is likely that you will appeal your claim at least once. Hiring an experienced disability lawyer in Missouri is the best option to prepare you for the appeals process.
You have 60 days from the date you receive your denial letter to appeal the decision. If you do not request an appeal within 60 days, you may forfeit your right to appeal unless you can show a good reason for your delay.
There are four stages in the appeals process.
A reconsideration is a second review of your claim by the same office. The person conducting the reconsideration will be someone who was not involved with the initial application denial. At this appeals stage, you can include additional information, records, and evidence to support your claim.
Only 2% of reconsiderations are approved. A social security disability attorney in Missouri can help build your case, giving you the best chance of success with your disability claim.
Request for Hearing
The next appeals stage involves a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). You receive a scheduled day and time to appear in front of the ALJ.
The current wait time in Missouri to schedule a hearing is approximately 11.5 months.
At the hearing, you may provide additional documentation and evidence to support your claim and bring witnesses to testify as to your disability. The ALJ will question both you and your witnesses at the hearing.
A Missouri disability lawyer will prepare you to appear in front of the ALJ. A lawyer can help you collect more medical information, suggest witnesses to bring to the hearing, and prepare you for the judge’s questions.
Special Council Appeal
If the ALJ denies your claim, you may ask that SSA’s Special Council review your case. The Special Council may decide that the ALJ’s decision was correct and not hear your case. Alternatively, the Special Council may either review your claim or request that the ALJ reevaluate the prior denial.
Appeal to Federal District Court
Your final appeal option is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court. The denial letter from the Special Council will explain how to exercise this option.
What Can Affect Your Disability Benefits?
Certain life changes can affect your SSDI and SSI benefits payments.
If any of the following occur, you need to alert the SSA:
- Becoming employed;
- Relocating in or outside of the United States;
- Applying for other disability benefits, such as workers’ compensation;
- Changing your marital status or having children;
- Being convicted of a crime; or
- Violating conditions of parole or probation.
Benefits received on behalf of a minor can be affected by the following factors:
- Turning 18;
- Remaining in school past 18th birthday;
- Dropping out of school or being suspended/expelled from school;
- Being convicted of a crime;
- Marrying; or
- Becoming disabled.
The SSA will periodically review your case to confirm that you are still unable to work and eligible to receive disability benefits.
Contact a Missouri Social Security Disability Lawyer Today
To discuss your disability benefits claim, contact the best disability lawyers in Missouri at the Cottrell Law Office. We can assist you in filing a new claim or appealing a denial of your original claim.