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Social Security Disability

You don't have to navigate the complicated Social Security Disability system alone. Let the law offices Pikrallidas and Associates help you.

If you are suffering from a serious and debilitating illness that prevents you from working, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Disability claims process can be daunting to say the least. Do not to be discouraged if you receive a denial of your claim. Social Security denies the majority of claimants when they initially apply for benefits. It is important to seek competent legal counsel to facilitate your claim.

If you are confused about the process of filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, our law firm can help you. We are experienced trial attorneys and we will vigorously fight for your disability benefits. We have a proven track record with the Administration and we win the majority of our cases.

At the law firm of Pikrallidas and Associates, we proudly serve claimants throughout Washington D.C. and Virginia. We are very familiar with the Social Security Disability claims process and understand the system and the pain that you are suffering, as well as your fear of the system. You do not have to battle for Social Security Disability benefits on your own, we will be with you all the way at every stage of the Social Security Disability process.

DO I QUALIFY FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS?

Social Security defines Disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

HOW DOES SOCIAL SECURITY DETERMINE DISABILITY?

Are you wondering if you have a claim for disability benefits? Then you need to know how Social Security determines if a person is disabled. Social Security uses a process that they refer to as the "sequential evaluation process." There are five steps to this process.

Step One; The Social Security Administration will review a claimant’s current work activity and whether or not an individual is working. If you are working, Social Security will evaluate your earnings and make a determination whether or not your work constitutes substantial gainful activity (SGA). If the Administration determines that you are performing substantial gainful activity, you will not be considered disabled.

Step Two; Under this step, Social Security will look at the severity of a claimant’s impairment(s). If Claimant does not have a “severe” condition they cannot be considered disabled.

Step Three; Social Security will determine whether his or her impairment(s) meets or medically equals a listing. Social Security has a “Blue book” with a list of severe impairments. If a claimant meets the required criteria of the listed impairment the claimant will be determined disabled. A claimant may have a severe condition that is not listed on the “Blue book” list. The Administration will then determine if the claimant’s condition is equal in severity to a listing level impairment.

Step Four; Social Security will determine if you can return to your previous employment. If it is determined that you have a severe impairment, but your condition does not meet a listing level of impairment, the Administration will then make a determination of whether or not you can return to your previous employment.

Step Five; Social Security will make a determination whether or not there is any other work that you can perform. At this stage Social Security considers a claimant's residual functional capacity, his or her past work, and claimant’s age, education, and work experience. If Social Security determines that you possess the transferrable skills to perform a different type of work, the Social Security Administration will determine the claimant is not disabled.

WHAT IS CONSIDERED A QUALIFYING DISABLING CONDITION?

There are numerous disabling conditions that can be considered severe enough by the Social Security Administration to qualify a person for Social Security Disability benefits. These conditions must be severe enough to interfere with an individual’s ability to perform substantial gainful activity. If you have one of these severe conditions or a combination of impairments, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Many of these conditions are described in the impairment listing manual, or what is referred to as the “Blue Book” of the Social Security Administration. The Blue Book is used to determine whether or not a person meets the Administration's criteria for total disability. Claimants who meet all of the eligibility criteria for a specified condition listed in the Blue Book should be awarded Social Security Disability benefits. Listed below are some examples of the numerous disabling conditions considered “severe” by the Social Security Administration:

Degenerative Disc Disease Spine Disorders Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Fibromyalgia Herniated Discs Lumbar Stenosis
Osteoarthritis Rheumatoid Arthritis Ruptured Discs
Obesity Vision Loss Meniere's Disease
Asthma Hearing Loss Emphysema
Sarcoidosis Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Heart Failure
Liver Disease Disease (COPD) Crhon's Disease
Colitis Hepatitis C Kidney failure
Chronic Anemia Sickle Cell Disease Chronic Skin Diseases
Diabetes Neuropathy Traumatic Brain Injury
Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident) Migraines ADD
Autism Anxiety Related Disorders Panic Disorders
Bi-polar Disorder Major Depression Mood Disorder
Personality Disorder Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Schizophrenia
Mental Retardation Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Lupus

WHAT SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE TO ME?

Social Security Administration administers two programs that provide benefits based on disability: the Social Security disability insurance program (title II) of the Social Security Act and the supplemental security income (SSI) program (title XVI). Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program of the United States government. The SSDI program is managed by the Social Security Administration and it is designed to provide income to people who are unable to work because of a disability. Social Security pays benefits to individuals who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

Title II provides for payment of disability benefits to individuals who are considered "insured" under the Act by virtue of their taxed earnings contributions to the Social Security trust fund, as well as to certain disabled dependents of insured individuals. Under the Title XVI program, Social Security allocates (SSI) payments to individuals (including children under age 18) who are disabled and have limited income and resources.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU ARE DENIED? WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF THE APPEALS PROCESS?

Generally, there are four levels of appeal. They are:

  • Reconsideration: This is an opportunity to gather medical reports and submit additional evidence if you were denied. It is very important to have proper representation and assistance for the appeals process.
  • Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge; If a claimant is denied at the Reconsideration level, you may ask to have your case evaluated at a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge. This is your best opportunity to present expert witnesses and additional medical evidence relevant to your case.
  • Review by the Appeals Council; If the Administrative Law Judge denies your claim you have the opportunity to request that the Appeals Council review of your claim; This is the final level of the Administrative review in a claimant’s case. Here, the Appeals Council may review the request for review or deny it. If the Council decides to review the claimant’s case, it may either grant the case outright or return it to the ALJ for further review.
  • Federal Court review; a claimant may file a lawsuit in federal district court, if the Appeals Council decides not to review a case or the claimant disagrees with their decision.

Most initial claims for benefits are denied. At that point, claims are resubmitted for a request for reconsideration and they will likely be denied again. Individuals who wish to pursue their claim further must again appeal their case and go before an Administrative Law Judge at the Office of Adjudication and Review (ODAR). This is a critical moment for your disability claim and you must be adequately prepared. The judge will likely ask you questions pertaining to your limitations and how they impact your ability to work. There may be a vocational expert present at the hearing to testify relative to work that they feel you may be capable of, based on your medical condition and previous employment. As experienced Social Security Disability attorneys, we will effectively cross-exam the government’s vocational expert. We are very familiar with our clients’ cases and limitations well in advance of the scheduled hearing date. In addition, we will assist you with securing the medical records necessary to support your claim for disability benefits. We will conduct legal research of your claim and prepare a pre-hearing memorandum for submission to the Administrative Law Judge. Most importantly, you will be ready for the hearing. We will prepare you for the types of questions that will be asked by the Judge and how to answer those questions effectively.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I WIN?

Typically, when a Social Security disability case is won, a Claimant will receive a regular monthly benefit check. Claimants will also likely receive a certain amount in past-due benefits (back-pay benefit check) this is based on the length of disability and processing time of the claim. Social Security can pay claimants benefits based on the disability onset date and up to one year prior to the date your application is filed. Disability benefits cannot begin for 5 months after the established onset of the disability. Therefore, disability benefits will be paid for the sixth full month after the date the disability began. The five month waiting period does not apply to individuals filing as children of workers. Under SSI, disability payments may begin as early as the first full month after the individual applied or became eligible for SSI.

You may receive Medicare or Medicaid benefits. Medicare helps pay hospital and physician bills of disabled or retired people who have worked long enough under Social Security to be insured for Social Security benefits. It generally covers people who are 65 and over; people who have been determined to be disabled and have been receiving benefits for at least 24 months. In general, Medicare pays 80 percent of reasonable charges. In most States, individuals who qualify for SSI disability payments also qualify for Medicaid. The Medicaid program is referred to by different names depending on the State. The program covers all of the approved charges of the Medicaid patient. Medicaid is financed by Federal and State matching funds, but eligibility rules may vary from State to State.

WHAT IS THE FEE FOR REPRESENTATION?

Attorney fees for Social Security disability claims or Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI) claims are contingent on winning the claim. That means that you pay a fee only when you win, and are awarded benefits. You pay no fee if your claim is denied. Attorney fees are regulated by the Social Security Administration. Our firm strictly adheres to the fee agreement governed by the Administration. The attorney fee is 25% of your back pay benefits (retroactive benefits) awarded in your claim. This fee has a cap which Social Security has currently set as $6,000. Therefore, the attorney fee is 25% of the back benefits or $6,000 - whichever is less. Social Security must approve any fee agreement between a claimant and a representative that is charged in a Social Security Disability case. Typically, the fee agreement is approved and the Social Security Administration calculates the back benefits and the fee, and pays the fee directly to the lawyer.

WHY SHOULD YOU HIRE THE LAW FIRM OF PIKRALLIDAS AND ASSOCIATES?

Pikrallidas and Associates are comprised of motivated, compassionate, and talented individuals. Our staff is highly skilled, organized, and educated in many areas. We are in the business of helping people. As simple as it sounds, we enjoy our profession and we value the wonderful opportunity that we have to help claimants in need. We are experienced, professional, and aggressive advocates. We have successfully fought for injured individuals since 1992. We are well practiced in the area of obtaining, evaluating, and preparing cases for presentation to the courts on the merits of our client’s claims from severe physical and mental injuries. We specialize in gathering evidence, aggressive representation, and presentation of claims. We know that the Social Security Disability claims process can be overwhelming to claimants. We are confident that our vast experience will prove invaluable in getting you the benefits that you deserve.

  • We evaluate your claim and we give you the expert advice that you will need to win your case.
  • We offer you a personal experience; we don’t shy away from our clients, we are available to you to insure all of your questions are answered.
  • We will work with your medical professionals to secure the evidence needed in order to support your claim.
  • We do not rush you; we take the time to discuss your condition, we review your medical records, conduct the appropriate research, and prepare pre-hearing memoranda personally tailored for your individual claim.

We understand how important it is to you and/or your family to receive these benefits and that each individual's situation is unique. We offer you personal experience to assist you every step of the way. At the end of the day, we, at the Law Firm of Pikrallidas and Associates, measure our success by the amount of people we are able to help. We want to help you. Contact our office today for a Free Consultation. Remember, there is no fee unless you win. We win the majority of our cases. We can help you get the benefits you deserve. Contact a Social Security Attorney who really cares. Call us today.

Pikrallidas & Associates
10605 Judicial Drive, Building A-4
Fairfax, Virginia, 22030 USA
703.267.2600