More videos: How the Judge Determines Disability, Are You Likely to Qualify for
Benefits?, How to Be Persuasive, How to Describe Your Daily Activities, When You Have Physical Impairments and Mental Limitations, and Can You Work Part-Time?
The Iowa Social Security disability lawyers at the Law Offices of Thad J. Murphy offer help for those seeking benefits
Two questions frequently asked by callers and visitors to our Dubuque and Davenport Iowa Social Security disability law offices are “Will I qualify for disability benefits?” and “Should I appeal the denial of my claim?”
Will you qualify for Social Security disability benefits?
The Social Security Administration’s rules for determining whether you are disabled are complex. Sometimes the results defy common sense. For example, you will not be found disabled simply because you cannot locate an employer willing to hire you, or because your doctor says you are disabled, or even because you have been found disabled under some other type of disability benefit program, such as Workers’ Compensation.
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must satisfy the definition of “disabled” in the Social Security law and regulations. This definition has multiple requirements:
- You must not be working or, if you are working, you must be earning less than an amount specified by the Social Security Administration.
- You must have a physical or mental condition that is severe and can be established through medically acceptable diagnostic techniques.
- Your impairment must be expected to last or have lasted at least 12 months or result in death.
- You must not be able to do “past relevant work.” This means you must be unable to do the easiest job you have done in the past 15 years, even if you would never be hired for it today, or the job no longer exists.
- You must not be able to do other jobs that exist in the national economy considering your age, education, and work experience. Even if you can no longer do your former job because it is too strenuous, if you are capable of doing easier jobs, you may not be disabled.
For more information on whether you are disabled for Social Security disability purposes, see the video Are You Likely to Qualify at the top of this page.
In addition to these disability requirements, you must have paid sufficient Social Security taxes to qualify for Social Security disability insurance benefits or you must meet income and asset tests to qualify for Supplemental Security Income. See Payment requirements and Supplemental Security Income.
Should you appeal if your initial application for Social Security disability in Iowa is denied?
The answer is yes. Failure to appeal a denial is perhaps the biggest mistake Social Security disability claimants make. Nationally about two-thirds of the people who apply for Social Security disability will receive denial letters from the Social Security Administration. Iowa and Dubuque statistics are similar.
Although initial Social Security disability claims are denied at a high rate, persistence pays off. Over half of Social Security disability claimants who appeal, both in the Dubuque area and nationally, are ultimately awarded disability benefits.
Why does the appeal achieve a higher success rate than the application? Here are three reasons:
- When you appeal, you will have a Social Security disability hearing before an administrative law judge. At the hearing, you and your disability attorney will have a chance to present your case. You and your witnesses can tell the judge about your impairments and how they limit what you are able to do. And the judge can see the effect of your impairments with his own eyes.
- Denials below the hearing level, on the other hand, are based on a review of your file only. The disability examiner has no opportunity to hear from you and your witnesses in person. Consequently, disability examiners tend to focus on medical records and may not fully appreciate how your impairment limits your ability to function in the workplace.
- Sometimes your claim is denied because some important evidence is not in your file. Perhaps some of your medical records are missing or inadequate, or one of your doctors has neglected to complete a form. Perhaps letters from people who know how your impairments limit your activities would be helpful. Your disability attorney can make sure these gaps in your file are filled before your hearing.
Whatever the reason, do not let the denial of your application for Social Security disability benefits discourage you from appealing. For more information see Advice for appealing a denial of Social Security disability benefits.
Our Social Security disability commitment and expertise
If you retain us, we will bring these important qualities to your disability case.
We primarily practice Social Security law. By focusing on Social Security disability, Supplemental Security Income, and veterans’ disability claims, we are able to offer a combination of resourcefulness, experience, and winning methodology in advocating for our clients.
We understand each client’s unique situation. Clients have told us that before consulting with us, no one has let them tell their story. No one listened. We will.
We advocate for you aggressively. While we cannot speed up the legal process, we do promise to aggressively press for your rights. We use state-of-the-art tools and resources to prepare and present your claim.
We keep you informed. We promise to explain the legal process and provide you with current information concerning your claim or case.
We accept Social Security disability claims at all stages—whether at application, first appeal, second appeal, or hearing level. We also handle veteran’s disability benefit cases. We represent clients in Iowa and throughout the Midwest. If you need help with your Dubuque, Davenport, or other Iowa Social Security disability claim or your veteran’s disability benefit claim, please complete the short Claim Evaluation Form to your right or contact us.