Hire an Experienced Disability Attorney to Handle Your Social Security Disability Claim

Are you unable to work and have been denied Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income? Give Social Security Disability Attorney Charlie Hall a call.

Attorney Charlie Hall is a Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability and has handled over 2,000 Social Security Disability cases over the last 15 years.

If you need to apply, give us a call.

If you have been denied at the initial or recon level, don’t delay, call us now.

If you have seen a judge, and are denied, don’t hesitate to call.

If you have been denied by the Appeals Council, call right away.

Attorney Charlie Hall can help. Our skilled Disability Advocacy team under the leadership of our disability specialist will do all the work, so you can focus on you. We are one phone call away.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits

There are many types of Social Security Disability Benefits.  Social Security Disability Attorney Charlie Hall assists individuals to prove medical disability who are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSD), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Disabled Adult Child Benefits (DAC), and Disabled Widow(er) (DWB) Benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

The most common disability benefit with the Social Security Administration is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) benefits program.  This benefit is based on a worker’s work history and based on how much they paid into the system with their FICA taxes.  Typically, you need to have worked five of the last ten years to qualify.  SSD benefits go not only to the disabled individual but also sometimes to dependents, like minor children.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a financially-need-based disability program administered by the Social Security Administration.  In general, if an individual has too many assets or too much monthly household income, then that individual, even if obviously medically disabled, will not qualify for SSI.  Give us a call today for a free assessment on whether you or a loved one qualifies.

Disability Adult Child

Disabled Adult Child benefits are for qualified disabled adult children between the ages of 18-22.  One of the key requirements is that one of the claimant’s parents receives Social Security retirement, Social Security Disability, or has died.  We can assist you in determining whether this type of claim may be appropriate for you or a loved one.

Disabled Widow(er)

Disabled Widow(er) benefits are for individuals 50 and older who are found to have become Social Security Disabled within seven years of their spouse’s death.  Widow(er)s at age 60 can obtain survivor benefits without proving disability.  Divorced spouses, who were married for at least 10 years and did not remarry before age 60 or before age 50 if disabled, can qualify for the very same benefits that widow(er)s do.

Ways to Strengthen Your Claim

There are many pitfalls that can sink an otherwise worthy disability claim.  Here are a few that you should shore up.  Sometimes, fixing some of these problems leads to an ability to return to some type of work activity.  Most of the time, however, it simply helps you strengthen your claim.

  1. Make sure you regularly see medical professionals, psychiatrists, and therapists.
  2. Make sure your medical professionals are taking detailed, objective notes of your conditions and that they are using the appropriate professional diagnostic techniques.
  3. Make sure your medical professionals are supportive of your disability claim.
  4. Follow your treating professionals’ advice.
  5. Take your medications are prescribed.
  6. Keep a medical journal to document your symptoms.
  7. COMMUNICATE to your treating professionals about your day-to-day difficulties.
  8. Hire a Social Security Disability attorney to fight for you, to guide and advise you through the process.

Social Security Disability Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process

The Social Security Administration uses a Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process to evaluate whether a claimant is disabled.

Step 1 of the Sequential Evaluation Process

Step 1 of the Sequential Evaluation Process inquires whether the individual is engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).  For employed individuals, SGA Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is work activity that is both: 1) substantial, and 2) gainful (20 CFR §404.1520(b)). Substantial means work that involves significant physical or mental activity (20 CFR §404.1572(a)). Practically speaking, any work that warrants pay in a competitive work environment in the US or local economy requires enough physical or mental activity to qualify as substantial activity.  Gainful means work that is typically done for pay or profit, regardless of whether pay or profit is actualized (20 CFR §404.1572(b)). In 2021, the SGA amount is $1,310.

When one engages in SGA, then SSA will generally deny a claim, and will not proceed to Step 2 of the Sequential Evaluation Process.

Step 2 of the Sequential Evaluation Process

Step two determines whether there is a severe impairment.  To have a severe impairment three criteria are required to be met. First, the claimant must have a medical condition that has been diagnosed by appropriate medical imaging or technique, AND it must be done by an acceptable medical source like a licensed medical professional or clinical psychologist.  Second, the medical condition must have lasted for at least 12 continuous months, be expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, or be expected to result in death.  Third, the individual’s impairment must impact his or her ability to engage in work-related activities.

Work-related activities are any activities that you can think of that are done on the job. These include exertional activities, non-exertional activities, mental activities, manipulative activities,  postural activities, and environmental limitations.  Exertional activities include walking, standing, sitting, pushing, pulling, lifting, and carrying.  Nonexertional limitations include visual and communicative issues.  Visual limitations include near acuity, far acuity, depth perception, accommodation, color vision, and field of vision.  Communicative limitations include hearing and speaking.  Manipulation limitations include reaching, handling, fingering, and feeling. Postural limitations include climbing, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling. Environmental limitations include limitations with regard to one’s exposure to extreme cold, extreme heat, wetness, humidity, noise, vibration, fumes/odors/dust/gas/poor ventilation, and hazards (for example dangerous machinery or unprotected heights).

Step 3 of the Sequential Evaluation Process

To proceed to Step three of the Sequential Evaluation Process, SSA will require that there was no work activity and at least one severe impairment.  Step three examines whether the adult claimant’s severe medical impairment meets or equals a medical listing.  If one or more conditions meets or equals a listing, then the individual is found disabled.  If not, then SSA will proceed to step four and step five of the Sequential Evaluation Process.

Before proceeding to the final two steps, SSA will create a Residual Functional Capacity of the claimant.  This is a determination of what types of work activity the claimant can do despite his or her limitations. (20 CFR 404.1545 and 20 CFR 404.945).

Step 4 of the Sequential Evaluation Process

At Step 4, the burden of proof shifts from Social Security to the claimant.  The claimant has to prove by a preponderance of evidence an inability to do Past Relevant Work. There are two key components for work to count as Past Relevant Work. First, the work must have been done within the last 15 years of the date of the hearing (or within the last 15 years from the Date Last Insured).  Second, the work must have been performed for a sufficient period of time to enable a person to have actually have learned how to do the job.  This typically also means that the work must have been performed at SGA levels.  If the decisionmaker determines the claimant can do at least one past job as it is generally or was actually performed, then the claimant loses.  If the decisionmaker determines that the claimant cannot do any Past Relevant Work, then the analysis proceeds to the final step.

Step 5 of the Sequential Evaluation Process

Step Five of the Sequential Evaluation Process exams the claimant’s ability to do other work. For individuals under 50 years, SSA will look to see if there are at least two or three jobs throughout the United States (and that includes the Northern Marianna Islands!) available for the individual despite the limitations from their medical abilities. If there are no other jobs, then the claimant will be found disabled. If there are other jobs, the claimant will lose and be found not disabled.  For individuals 50 and over, the Medical-Vocational Guidelines (Grids) can direct a judge to find a 50 or older individual disabled due to physical disabilities when such a finding would not occur with an individual under 50.  Social Security Disability judges can also use the Grids as a framework when there is a combination of exertional (physical) and non-exertional (non-physical) limitations.

A skilled disability attorney is needed throughout the decision-making process to make sure that the claimant’s claim is not needlessly denied.

Social Security Disability Explained

Disability is defined as the inability to engage in any Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which is 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.  If the condition is not expected to result in death and it has lasted just short of 12 continuous months, then the individual will not meet the disability standard no matter how debilitating the condition during that period under one year.

Proving a disability to receive benefits from the SSA can be difficult.  The SSA evaluates disability claims using its own medical experts and claims examiners.  Just because your personal doctor says you cannot work full-time or you believe that you are disabled does not necessarily mean that SSA will agree with your doctor or you.

To meet the SSA’s definition of disability, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a physical or mental impairment that is documented by appropriate medical diagnosis from a medical source that is acceptable to Social Security.
  • The impairment prevents you from doing any substantial gainful work, and
  • The disability must be expected to last, or have lasted 12 months, or it must be expected to result in death.

The basic rule regarding disability is that the condition preventing you from working must be a medical one, meaning that it can be discovered and described by doctors and proved by acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques such as X-rays, MRIs, or clinical tests and examinations.  The SSA does not rely on your own description of your symptoms and limitations

Process of Disability Determination in North Carolina

In North Carolina, the Social Security Administration has four decision-making levels:

  • Initial decision,
  • Reconsideration decision,
  • Hearing, and
  • Appeals Council

It is in the claimant’s best interest to enlist the services of a North Carolina Social Security disability lawyer who is skilled at handling various issues that may arise throughout the application process.  A North Carolina disability attorney has experience dealing with the Social Security Administration and can function as an effective advocate for the claimant.  A claimant’s attorney can deal with the complex and time-consuming process, while the claimant focuses on more pressing medical and personal issues.

Initially, the disability claims are processed through a network of local field offices and state agencies called Disability Determination Services (DDSs).  In North Carolina, field offices are located throughout the State to service the local populations.  DDS is located in Raleigh.

Call Today for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation

Call, email, or text us today to get a 100% free consultation.  Attorney Charlie Hall and his experienced disability advocacy team look forward to learning more about your situation and talking with you. Contact us today!