Reliable Guidance From a Virginia Social Security Disability Lawyer
Richmond lawyer with over 35 years of practicing Social Security Disability law
Social Security is best known for its old-age benefits, but it also provides compensation for people who are too disabled to earn a living. However, a great majority of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are denied, usually because of inadequate proof of claim. If you have suffered a disability, you can improve your chances of obtaining benefits by hiring an attorney with knowledge of and skill in handling SSDI claims. Gerald G. Lutkenhaus has a wealth of experience in winning cases like yours in central and southeast Virginia.
What is a disability?
A disability is a physical or mental condition — expected to last at least one year — that prevents one from engaging in gainful employment. The federal Social Security Administration (SSA) offers two types of disability benefits, each with its own requirements:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — This program is available to people who have a history of gainful employment and have acquired sufficient “work credits.” The amount of benefits depends on the amount the recipient has earned at work. Recipients also become eligible for Medicare after 24 months.
- Social Security Income (SSI) — People who are blind, disabled or at least 65 years old and have little income or assets may qualify for SSI benefits, which are based on financial need. If you live in a state-licensed assisted living center or an approved adult foster home, you may also be eligible for auxiliary grants to pay for your long-term care, as well as being eligible for a personal-needs allowance.
If you believe that you are disabled, I can determine if you qualify for SSDI or SSI and represent you in a claim for benefits.
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits
More than two thirds of SSDI claims are denied, usually because applicants fail to provide proof of physical or mental conditions that prevent them from working. When you apply, you need to authorize disclosure of your medical records to the SSA. If the records don’t support your claim or are incomplete, you may be required to undergo a physical or psychiatric examination. A disability examiner will review the evidence and rule on your claim. If your request is denied on medical grounds, you may request a reconsideration and if that fails, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Fortunately, your chances of winning before an ALJ are much better. Appealed claims are approved about half the time. If your claim is again denied, you can seek review by the Appeals Council, which is a necessary final step before taking your case to federal court. Courts find errors about half the time and in those instances usually send the case back for a new hearing, rather than granting the claim itself.
An SSDI claim usually takes months to decide but may take years in some cases, especially if it requires an appeal to federal court. If I represent you, I will work to prepare a strong case with the goal of winning at the earliest stage, but I am prepared to pursue your benefits to the full extent necessary.
How I can help you in your claim for Social Security Disability
I have more than 35 years of experience handling Social Security Disability cases, during which time I have had more than 1,000 successful disability hearings and have represented claimants at every step of the appeals process, up to the U.S. Court of Appeals. I am a member of the National Association of Social Security Representatives and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Committee on Social Security, and I lecture on SSDI and SSI both to client groups and to fellow attorneys. I bring the same commitment to every case I take, whether it is for Social Security disability or for workers’ compensation. I will be happy to answer your questions and, if I represent you, will work zealously to obtain the disability benefits you deserve.