Social Security Disability Lawyer in Charleston, SC
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD), also called Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), is a federal program that provides cash benefits to people who have worked in the past, but are now unable to work for at least 12 months due to physical and/or mental medical impairments.
Your Social Security Disability Claim Representation should be personal and as stress-free as possible. If you cannot work because you are hurt or sick, I’m here to help you get the Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) that you deserve.
With Carriage Lane Law and Attorney Conrad Falkiewicz by your side, you get the first-class, 1-ON-1 Social Security Disability Representation that you deserve.
Why should you choose Attorney Conrad Falkiewicz to represent you?
Questions & Answers: Applying for SSD in South Carolina
What are Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Benefits are paid to those that qualify for Federal Disability Programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. There are 2 main types of Social Security Benefits: Social Security Disability (referred to as: SSDI or DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (referred to as SSI).
Social Security Disability, referred to as SSDI or DIB, requires a medical condition that keeps you from performing work activity and you must have earned enough work credits by working for approximately 5 of the last 10 years prior to your disability to be eligible.
Supplemental Security Income, referred to as SSI, also requires that you have a medical condition that keeps you from performing work activity, but it does not have a work credit requirement. However, SSI is a lesser benefit and if your household income exceeds a minimum level of income then you cannot receive SSI.
Can I apply for Social Security Benefits Myself?
Yes, you can apply online (https://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/) or in person at your local Social Security office. You must be careful to include all the information for Social Security to gather your full medical record. You must also be careful to not overstate your ability to work. Many people have a hard time admitting, even to themselves, the full extent of their limitations. Many people do not want to be considered “malingerers” or “hypochondriacs”.
You need to honestly access what you can and cannot do and when you started to be unable to do activities. Working people are proud people, but you cannot let false pride color your record. While most people make the first application themselves we can help you avoid pitfalls and inadvertently hurting your case.
Who can I talk with about my case? Who will I talk with about my case?
If you come to my office you will be interviewed by me, not by my paralegal.
I will be the attorney who prepares your case and the attorney who will appear before the Social Security Judge when your hearing is scheduled.
My staff will help you communicate with me and coordinate forms, assist with collecting medical records and evidence, but you, your family, and I will meet to prepare your case and your testimony. I will be with you at your hearing, no one else. If you only speak with assistants how can your attorney really know who you are? If you meet your attorney for the first time 15 minutes before your hearing how could he know what you want him to help you tell the judge? It takes 18 months to get a hearing in front of a judge, and yet many social security clients only meet their attorney when they arrive at the hearing room, this is not good.
Don’t hire someone who will not meet with you face to face.
How do I qualify for Social Security Benefits?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSDI) are two basic benefits available to disabled people through the Social Security Administration.
For either of these benefits, you must have a medical condition or a combination of medical conditions that prevent you from working or performing what is called significant gainful activity.
Supplemental Security Income requires you to be disabled, but does not require you to have an earnings record. This is why children can obtain SSI benefits. Obviously, children do not have a work record and they are not judged on a working standard. However, to receive SSI, there are income limitations and you must possess very few assets.
Social Security Disability(SSDI) requires that you be medically disabled, unable to perform work or significant gainful activity, and to have a work record over a period of 10 years prior to your disability where you accrued sufficient work credits to become eligible. Additionally, your disability must be expected to last at least one year or to result in death. Every quarter of a year when you are employed you earn a work credit. Most people who have worked steadily will have earned enough credits to be insured for Social Security Disability benefits. If you have stopped working prior to receiving an award of disability you have established a date last insured. Because your work credits have to be recent in time if you stay unemployed for a period of years you will reach a date, (date last insured) when you are no longer eligible to receive disability benefits. That means that you or your lawyer will have to prove that you became disabled before that date.
Many people make the mistake of stopping their work life and not applying in a timely fashion. Your medical record must show, clearly, that your medical condition existed and was disabling prior to your date last insured. The further you go away from your date last insured the more difficult it can be to produce that evidence.
We are here to help you with that process.
Does getting Social Security Benefits take a long time?
Yes, the average time is usually 18 months or more from the time you first apply with the Social Security Administration (SSA) until you are standing in front of a judge for a hearing.
If your condition is overwhelmingly disabling, it is at least possible that you might be approved by the SSA and receive an award of social security without needing an attorney to represent you. That, however, is not the typical situation.
The system is difficult and overloaded. You are likely to be turned down on your initial application, and then almost certainly at an intermediary level called “Reconsideration”.
Only after those denials will you have a chance to tell your story to a judge. I will help you tell your story to the Judge in the language of Social Security.
I do not usually take cases before clients have been rejected by Social Security administration at least once.
A huge percentage of applicants are denied every year. Most people I represent have been denied on their initial application, and they will be denied on the reconsideration level before we are able to put them before the Social Security Administration judge.
I accept clients between their first denial and before their deadlines run out on applying for reconsideration because that gives us enough time to work with our clients to prepare ultimately for the hearing before an administrative judge.
Is it possible to speed up the process?
It can be possible to speed up the process by proving that you are a critical case.
If you are a 100% disabled veteran, if you are terminal, or if you have been unable to provide food or medical care for yourself, it may be possible for your case to proceed faster.
However, the criteria for this process is looked at very strictly by the Social Security Administration because there are so many disabled people waiting in line for their cases to be heard.
Speeding up the case, while sometimes necessary, can also have the possibility of causing problems for you. It can result in an incomplete medical record that does not legally support your position, because it lacks sufficient detail and evidentiary value for the administrative judge to decide in your favor and may result in your case being denied rather than being expedited.
It is better to take the time necessary to see all of the doctors you need, so we can prepare a complete medical history and give you the best possible chance of receiving a social security award.
If my doctor says I am disabled why is it so hard to get benefits?
While your doctor may know you and your medical condition, he probably does not know the legal requirements. Your doctor can give medical evidence which supports your claim for disability because disability is a legal decision based on medical and vocational evidence.
The simple statement from a doctor, “My patient is disabled”, will do nothing for getting you the Social Security Disability Benefits that you deserve.
Different people are disabled by different problems. A 50 year old man who has done hard physical labor all his life from before he finished high school will be disabled if he cannot walk. But, a 35 year old computer programmer with a PhD would not stop working at his profession even briefly because of the same condition.
In Social Security Disability Court, you are not judged only by the work you have done or want to do, but on all work you could do. Being unable to drive a fork lift does not mean you cannot sell shoes, or take telephone orders or take care of children or the elderly.
Being disabled means not being able to earn money doing some job somewhere.
Doctors are essential to a good claim, but doctors speak in medical language and I help translate that language into Social Security Law language.
If I can’t do the job that I was doing am I not disabled?
The measurement for disability by the Social Security Administration is not whether you can do the job you were doing, but whether you can do any job.
Private disability policies or state employee disability programs depend on whether you can do the job you were doing or a lighter version of that job.
This is not the rule in Social Security. Social Security determines whether you are disabled based upon your ability to do any job that exists in the United States. That is the ultimate question and measurement in Social Security Disability. Because this threshold is so difficult to reach there are other methods provided to determine disability.
The first method to determine disability uses “listings.”
Social Security listings are sets of specific medical conditions that require specific evidence and create specific limitations on work activities. These listings cover virtually every area of your physical and mental health. To prove that you fall within one of these medical conditions, you and your attorney must prove that each element of that medical condition applies to you. If you can’t prove each of the elements, you will not be considered disabled.
The other method to determine disability uses “grids.”
Grids are charts that start with your proven ability to do different physical levels of activity: sedentary work, light work, medium work and heavy work.
Then, those charts take into consideration your age, education, work background and skill levels to make a determination of whether you are disabled or not.
We will look through your medical records carefully to pull out all of the documentation we can find to fit them into a grid or a listing to prove your disability.
If we are able to prove you fit within a listing or a grid, then SSA will consider you to be disabled and you will be awarded Social Security Disability benefits.