Social Security Disability Lawyers

Navigating your way through the Social Security disability claim process can be very difficult, especially when you have a physical or mental condition that makes it hard to just get through the day. That is why we are here – we give you knowledgeable and experienced service in handling your claim, so that you can focus on your health and your daily needs. If you are disabled by a physical or mental condition, and you are no longer able to work, we are here to help!

Our Social Security Disability Practice Group

The Social Security disability practice group of Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, specifically focuses its efforts on guiding Social Security disability claimants through this complicated claim process. Attorney Andrea G. Farmer is a Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law by the North Carolina State Bar. She has been practicing Social Security disability law in North Carolina and South Carolina for 12 years, and now practices disability law almost exclusively. Andrea has helped hundreds of Social Security disability clients obtain benefits that they deserved, with benefits obtained totaling millions of dollars for all clients. Attorney Hannah M. Davies has a number of years of experience as a disability paralegal before attending law school. After law school, she clerked for a United States District Court judge, assisting him with his disability cases. Rejoining the firm after law school and her judicial clerkship, Hannah brings to her practice the experience of different perspectives in the Social Security disability process. Staff members Ann Doty & Isaac Guerrero are very dedicated to doing whatever they can to support and serve our disabled clients. We serve clients in Western North Carolina and in Upstate South Carolina. You can meet the members of our Social Security disability practice group at one of our conveniently located offices in Rutherfordton, North Carolina; Shelby, North Carolina; Morganton, North Carolina or Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Social Security Disability Programs

You may be entitled to draw Social Security benefits if you are disabled. Social Security provides two programs which provide these benefits: Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). There are medical and non-medical requirements for each program. The medical requirements are the same for both programs: you must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disability.”

Medical Requirements: the Meaning of “Disability” for Social Security

Social Security regulations provide that in order to be considered disabled, you must have a physical or mental impairment that keeps you from engaging in substantial gainful activity, and that your condition must last or be expected to last for not less than 12 months or be expected to result in death. Further, your physical or mental impairment must be medically determinable – this means that you must have medical evidence to prove your condition and its severity.

Non-Medical Requirements

For the disability insurance program, you must have sufficient work credits in the years preceding your disability in order to be covered or “insured” for the program. These credits are accrued by your Social Security contributions from your earnings being paid into the Social Security trust fund. Working “under the table” or for cash that is not reported to the IRS will not assist you in earning work credits. The Social Security Administration will calculate your work credits and determine your insured status; however, doing so is very complicated and you need an experienced attorney to help ensure that you are given the credit you deserve. It is NOT unheard of for Social Security to miscalculate claimants’ work credits.

For the SSI program, no work credits are required. However, there are limitations to the allowed amount of income and resources that you have. The rules about allowed income and resources are complicated and you should seek the advice of an experience attorney to help you determine if you qualify for benefits!

The Determination Process

Unfortunately, most claims are denied at least once or twice before they are approved. After a denial, it is very important to appeal in a timely fashion. A delay in appealing a negative decision may cause you to have to start over and it may even cause you to lose benefits. The administrative process includes four stages, which are: Initial Application, Reconsideration, Hearing, and Appeals Council. At the initial application and reconsideration stages, Social Security will send your claim to a state agency to obtain medical evidence and make a decision regarding your disability. The hearing level is important because your chances of approval are better and you get to appear in front of a judge. If your case is denied at the hearing level, review at the Appeals Council is very technical and requires knowledge of the regulations governing the disability process. Having competent legal representation at each stage of the process is vital to give you the best chance of obtaining the benefits you may be entitled to!

Derivative Benefit Programs

There are also programs by which you can draw disability benefits from someone else’s work record, such as your parent or spouse. These programs include Disabled Adult Child claims and Disabled Widow(er) claims. Determining eligibility for these programs is highly technical, and that’s why you need a knowledgeable attorney to evaluate your claim.

Child’s Disability

Child’s disability claims are evaluated differently from adult disability claims. Instead of focusing on the child’s ability to work, Social Security focuses on the severity of a child’s limitations in various areas of functioning. These limitations must be based on a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which means that there must be medical evidence to prove the condition and its severity. Child’s disability cases can be difficult, and that’s why you need an experienced attorney to evaluate your child’s claim!

Medicare and Medicaid

Depending on the type of disability program that you are qualified to receive, you may be entitled to Medicare and/or Medicaid medical insurance benefits to help cover your healthcare costs. Find out today what you may be eligible for with a free case evaluation by one of our experienced attorneys!

Frequently Asked Questions

The short answer to that question is, it depends. There are a lot of factors that are considered when determining eligibility, including your work history, your age, your education level, your assets and resources, and the severity and limiting effects of your physical and/or mental impairments. That being said, if you have a severe impairment that has kept you from being able to work, or is expected to do so, for 12 months, or is expected to end in death, then you may be eligible.
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, or DIB, is a program that workers fund when a portion of their earnings is withheld and paid into the Social Security trust fund. If you are then forced to stop working due to a severe physical or mental impairment, then you continue to be “insured” for a period of time after you stop work. If your condition(s) meet the medical requirements of the DIB program during that insured period, then you are entitled to draw a monthly benefit, which is calculated based on your prior earnings. Also, after being considered disabled for 29 months, you will be entitled to Medicare.
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is program designed to help the disabled that do not have a work records or whose “insured” period has expired. The medical requirements for SSI are the same as those for the DIB program. However, there are additional non-medical requirements, such as limits on monthly income and limits on resources, that must be met in order to qualify. If you meet the requirements for SSI, then you are also eligible for Medicaid benefits to assist you with your healthcare costs.

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Meet Our Social Security Disability Lawyers

Attorneys Andrea Farmer and Hannah Davies handle Social Security Disability cases…

Social Security Disability Lawyers

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