What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security isn’t just an excuse to take taxes out of your paycheck. That tax money goes into a program that makes payments to retired people and people who can’t work because of a short-term, long-term or permanent disability, as well as certain family members. The longer you have worked and the more you have contributed, the more you will be paid after you must stop working.
In a perfect world, Social Security payments would provide a safety net for people who are forced to retire due to a disability or long-term illness. Unfortunately, many people who apply for benefits find they are denied for technical or just plain incorrect reasons. These people must go through a long appeals process and possibly a federal lawsuit before they can collect their own Social Security payments.
South Carolina Disability Applications are Commonly Denied
Disability is the most commonly denied Social Security program; statistics show that fully 60% of disability claims are initially denied, often for procedural or technical reasons. The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) initiative was introduced in October 2008 as a way to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s standards. There are 113 qualifying conditions involving neurological, mental, and immune system disorders on the list. However, sometimes even those with a listed medical condition can be denied benefits.
Social Security Disability Eligibility in South Carolina
You are eligible for Social Security disability payments if:
- You cannot work because of a medical condition that will last for a year or more, or a condition expected to cause death, and have worked long enough, including recent work. The work requirements depend on your age.
- You are the spouse of somebody who is disabled, and you are over 62, or are any age if you’re caring for a child under 16 or with a disability.
- You are the child of a disabled person and you are under 18, under 19 if you’re still in high school, or any age if you are disabled.
- You are a divorced spouse of a disabled person and meet certain criteria.
After an initial denial of disability benefits, you have 60 days to ask the Social Security reviewers for reconsideration. About 80% of these requests are denied as well. You then have another 60 days to ask for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge who works for the Social Security Administration. This is an informal hearing, but a private attorney like the attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm may be present. In fact, hiring an attorney who understands Social Security law is a good idea, because he or she can use that extensive knowledge of the law to present convincing arguments to the judge, as well as any evidence not included in your original claim and testimony from medical experts. The Social Security Administration limits how much an attorney may legally charge you for representation in an administrative proceeding.
If your claim is denied at the administrative hearing, your next step is to ask for a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. This is not a court case where you must appear with an attorney; they will review paperwork and decide whether the administrative law judge decided correctly. This can take up to three years. After that decision, you’re free to sue the government in federal court in order to obtain your Social Security benefits. An attorney is not technically required for this, but as with all court cases, having an attorney vastly improves your chances of success.
For more information, please see the Social Security Disability booklet and the Social Security Appeals Process booklet.
On the whole, fully half of all Social Security disability claim appeals are successful — implying that half of all claimants are incorrectly denied in the first place! Because of this high rate of wrongful denials, more and more Social Security claimants are hiring attorneys to help them appeal their claims.
Contact our Social Security Disability Lawyers Today
If you feel you were wrongly denied benefits, you should contact the South Carolina Social Security Claim Attorneys at Louthian Law Firm as soon as possible. We can help residents of Columbia, Orangeburg, Lexington, Aiken, Sumter and throughout South Carolina get the appeals process moving quickly, preserve your right to an appeal and bring the balance of power back to your side. And because we’ve represented injured South Carolinians in government and court proceedings since 1959, we understand how to get you the best possible result. For a free evaluation of your Social Security case, call the Louthian Law Firm today toll free at (803) 454-1200. You can also fill out the confidential online consultation form.