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Social Security Disability Lawyers

Let Us Help You Get SSDI Benefits

Unable to work because of an injury, illness, or mental health condition? 

If you are living with a disabling condition that prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  

Whether you are considering applying for disability benefits or your claim has been denied, and you’re thinking about filing an appeal, our experienced Social Security disability lawyers at DePaolo & Zadeikis can help.

Our attorneys are familiar with the Social Security Administration’s regulations that must be met, the filing procedures that must be followed, the medical evidence needed, and tips that optimize your chances of receiving disability benefits. 

  • We offer free consultations
  • We don’t charge upfront attorney fees
  • We’ll meet with you in our Chicago office or at a location that’s convenient for you
  • You don’t pay unless you win

Give us a call today at 312-263-7560 for a free, no obligation consultation. 

What Is Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability is a federal insurance program managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI provides financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a long-term or permanent disability. Social Security Disability benefits provide a crucial safety net for people with disabilities, helping them maintain a basic standard of living and access to medical care.

Do You Need to Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer to Get SSDI Benefits?

Although you are not legally required to hire an attorney to get approved for SSDI benefits, handling your claim on your own is not recommended. The Social Security Administration has strict requirements and deadlines that must be met for your claim to be approved. Without an experienced disability lawyer on your side, your chances of getting awarded benefits are slim. 

Here are some key reasons why hiring a Social Security Disability lawyer can be beneficial:

  1. Complex process: The SSDI application process is notoriously complex, with strict eligibility requirements and extensive documentation needed. Our disability lawyers understand the intricate rules and regulations, ensuring your application is properly prepared and supported by the necessary medical evidence.
  2. Denials and appeals: A large percentage of initial SSDI claims are denied, often due to technical errors or insufficient evidence. Our lawyers can identify the reasons for denial and effectively navigate the appeals process, which involves multiple levels of review and hearings before an administrative law judge.
  3. Collecting medical records: Gathering comprehensive medical records from various healthcare providers is crucial for a successful claim. Our disability lawyers know what information is required and can obtain the necessary documentation efficiently.
  4. Presenting your case: During the appeals process, our SSDI lawyers will prepare a strong legal argument, cross-examine vocational and medical experts, and advocate persuasively on your behalf to demonstrate your inability to work due to your disability.
  5. Navigating the system: The Social Security Administration’s regulations and procedures can be confusing and overwhelming for individuals who are unfamiliar with the system. A disability lawyer at our firm can ensure all deadlines are met, and proper protocols are followed, preventing costly mistakes.
  6. Contingency fees: Our Social Security disability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means we only collect a fee (typically 25% of any past-due benefits) if your claim is approved. This allows you to access legal representation without upfront costs.

While hiring a lawyer is not mandatory, our experience, knowledge, and skill can significantly improve your chances of obtaining the SSDI benefits you deserve, especially if your case involves complex medical conditions or initially denied claims.

What You Should Know About SSDI

Approximately 40 million people in the United States have a disability. That translates to about 12.6% of the population. For those who apply for Social Security Disability benefits, only around 30% are approved at the initial application level. At the Administrative Law Judge Hearing, that percentage nearly doubles to 55%. Your odds of winning benefits are greatly improved by having a Social Security Disability lawyer represent you. About 70% of people who hire an SSDI attorney to handle their claims are awarded benefits. Only around 41% of those without a lawyer are approved. 

What Are the Types of Social Security Programs Available to People With Disabilities?

The SSA offers two programs that provide benefits to people with disabilities. While they are similar in that they both provide monthly income to those who qualify, the programs are designed for people who fit into two different categories. 

  • Social Security Disability Insurance: SSDI benefits are paid to people with qualifying disabilities who have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain period.
  • Supplemental Security Income: SSI benefits are paid to those with limited income and resources.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for Social Security Disability?

There are strict requirements that people must meet to be eligible for disability benefits.

  • Applicants must have a severe physical or mental impairment that prevents them from performing substantial gainful activity.
  • The disability must be expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
  • For SSDI, applicants must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a certain period, depending on their age when they became disabled.
  • For SSI, the applicant must have limited income and resources below certain thresholds.

What Is the Application Process for Social Security Disability?

Applying for disability benefits is the easy part of the process. You can do this on your own, or with the help of an experienced disability attorney. 

  • Applications can be filed online, by phone, or in person at your local Social Security office.
  • Detailed medical records and documentation of your disability are required.
  • The process can be lengthy, and many initial applications are denied, requiring disability lawyers to help with appeals.

What Benefits Does Social Security Provide to People With Disabilities?

People who are approved for SSDI or SSI will receive various benefits that can improve their quality of life and their ability to thrive on their own. These include:

  • Monthly cash benefits are provided to eligible individuals. If you qualify for SSDI benefits, the amount you receive will be based on your earnings and the taxes you’ve paid over the past few years. For SSI claimants, the amount of your checks will depend on the federal benefits rate at the time. 
  • Medicare or Medicaid coverage may also be available after a waiting period. If you’re awarded SSDI benefits, you’ll automatically receive Medicare benefits after 24 months. This waiting period may be waived for people with certain conditions, however. For instance, if you have ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), you’ll get Medicare benefits immediately upon getting approved for SSDI. People who receive SSI will usually get Medicaid benefits in place of Medicare.
  • Food and utility assistance may be available. Many people who receive disability benefits will also qualify for food assistance and help with their utility bills. While these benefits are not part of the disability program, they can help lower income people and their families make ends meet. 

What Is Continuing Eligibility for Disability?

The SSA periodically reviews cases to ensure individuals remain eligible for benefits. Beneficiaries must report any changes in their condition or income that may affect their eligibility. While most people will continue to receive benefits as long as they have a qualifying disability, certain circumstances may affect eligibility. For instance, you might find that you can go back to work and perform substantial gainful activity, or your condition may improve. 

If your condition is expected to improve, your case will be reviewed within 6 to 18 months from the time you’re initially approved for benefits. If improvement is possible, the SSA will review your case in approximately three years. However, if your condition is not expected to improve, the Administration will not review your case until about sever years have passed. 

Your initial award notice will provide you with information about when to expect your first review from the SSA. 

How to Get Social Security Disability Benefits With a Terminal Illness

If you have a terminal illness, you can get disability benefits more quickly. The SSA offers expedited processing under the TERI program for applicants whose physicians certify that the person is suffering from a terminal illness. Since claims examiners are trained to recognize applicants who qualify for the program, there are no special forms to fill out or steps to follow. 

Our Chicago Social Security Disability Lawyers Reveal Why Claims Are Denied

Social Security disability claims are denied at all levels of the claims process for a variety of reasons. Understanding why claims are denied can help you improve your chances of winning benefits. 

Application and Paperwork Errors

A large percentage of disability claims are denied because of paperwork errors. The application and documentation necessary to file a disability claim can be overwhelming if you are trying to complete your application yourself. While it is important that each question is answered truthfully and completely, using the correct wording for each answer can have a big impact on your claim. In addition, the SSA requires you to back up your claim with documentation and hard evidence, and failing to submit the required information will almost certainly result in a denial. 

Throughout the claims process, there are a number of deadlines that often must be met to proceed with a claim. Many applicants receive denials because they are unable to complete the required actions or access the requested information on time. 

Drugs, Alcohol, and Criminal Convictions

Many disability applications are denied because drug, alcohol, or criminal convictions are involved. Although it is possible to obtain SSD benefits despite previous drug or alcohol abuse, if it is determined that the substances continue to play a role in your disability, you will likely be denied. Similarly, claims that are linked to criminal convictions will often be denied. 

Substantial Gainful Activity

SSDI benefits are available to people who are no longer able to perform substantial gainful activity (work) because of a disabling condition. If you work too many hours or make too much money while waiting on your claim to process, you will no longer qualify for SSDI. 

Medical Evidence

Sufficient medical evidence is necessary to support a claim for SSD. If you haven’t followed through with your treatment plan or do not have sufficient medical records to back up your claim, you may be denied benefits. 

Our Social Security Disability Lawyers Help Claimants Win Appeals

When your claim has been denied at the reconsideration level, you may request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The majority of disability claims that are successful are approved at the hearing level. Because hearings are more in-depth, many people hire social security disability lawyers to help guide them through the rest of the process. 

Our Social Security Disability attorneys can help you access and gather your medical records and other documentation. We’ll also prepare you for questioning, cross-examine the vocational expert during your hearing, and more. 

In addition, our Social Security Disability lawyers will address any weaknesses in your case and build on the strengths that can help you win benefits. If you are eligible for an on-the-record decision, a disability attorney at our law firm may even be able to help you skip the hearing altogether and go straight to the decision. 

If you’re ready to appeal your claims denial, you don’t have to face the judge alone. Call our Chicago Social Security Disability Lawyers at DePaolo & Zadeikis today at 312-263-7560 for a free consultation.