Social Security / Disability Law

If we live long enough, most of us will eventually receive old age social security. Social Security Disability and SSI programs were enacted to provide income for those of us who become disabled before retirement age. If you have an injury or illness which is preventing you from working and that condition is expected to last twelve months or more, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability or SSI benefits.

The process begins by either visiting your local social security office or applying on-line. If you are successful in obtaining benefits after the application, you don't need a lawyer. If you are turned down, you must file an appeal within sixty days. Therefore, if you are turned down, call me at 1-800-242-2412. I will go over your case with you in person in either my Pittsburgh, Uniontown or Somerset offices, or if you cannot come in I can provide you with a telephone appointment.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you must have worked in at least twenty out of the forty quarters preceding the date you became disabled. You also must be "disabled," as that term is defined in the Social Security Act. In order to prove your disability, you need to show that your illness or injury is serious enough to meet the medical "listings" for that condition or that, given your age, education and work experience, there is no substantial gainful activity (that is, a full time job) that you can perform in your geographical area (this is known as the "grids" analysis). The grids analysis make it much easier for a person over fifty, fifty-five or sixty years old to obtain benefits than it is for a younger person. SSI regulations contain the same definition of "disability," but instead of showing a ten year work record, applicants must be low income.

Your chances of success in your application depend upon a few things. First, your medical records must support your claim of disability. I will make sure that the social security administration receives all of your records, but these records need to support your claim of disability for you to win. A second important element of success is your work record. An individual who has a long history of work throughout his or her life, but who stopped working only when they became ill or injured has a far better chance of winning their case than the person with a spotty work record.

There are no costs or attorney's fees that you need to pay out front. Rather, my fee will be 25% of your past due benefits if we win the case. If we lose the case, there is no charge. The case will normally involve appearing at one hearing, either in Pittsburgh, Johnstown, or Morgantown, West Virginia, depending upon where you live. If you lose at the hearing level, there are further appeals that can be taken, but normally the judge at the hearing level will be making the ultimate decision. Contrary to popular belief, you can receive social security disability and workers compensation at the same time. Also, if you have a long-term disability or disability pension program at work, this type of claim is normally developed in conjunction with your social security case. Finally, please remember that you don't have to show that your illness or injury is permanently disabling, but rather that you have been or can expected to be disabled for twelve months or more. Commonly, a person can be disabled from a disease for over twelve months, but can then recover and return to work. In such a case that person can received social security benefits for the time they were off work, but would not continue to receive benefits once they return to work.