If you’re struggling with a medical condition that prevents you from working, you may feel like you’re at a loss. Various injuries and illnesses can affect your ability to support yourself and your family, and perform daily tasks and activities. Lack of proper medical care and stress can worsen your condition.
Social Security Disability (SSD) provides financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. If you need help understanding how to apply for disability in South Dakota, contact Ficek Law, PC today. With our qualified attorney Anton G. Ficek on your side, you can greatly increase your chances of obtaining benefits.
How to File for Disability in South Dakota | SSI & SSDI
Applying for disability in South Dakota can be difficult, especially if you’re diagnosed with a complex medical condition. For instance, individuals with disabilities not specified in the Blue Book might find it challenging to validate their claim.
At Ficek Law, PC, our first step is to assess your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. Then, we determine which program you should file under- SSI or SSDI.
Determining Eligibility for SSI & SSDI in South Dakota
Before filing a disability claim, it’s essential to determine whether you meet the criteria for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
For SSDI, you must have a medical condition that prevents you from performing your current job or pursuing new employment. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider various factors, including your age, educational background, and professional experience, to gauge your ability to work. An evaluation called a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment may be required if you apply for SSDI.
Your employment record plays a significant role in SSDI eligibility. Applicants can only apply for SSDI if they have a sufficient and recent work history. They must have performed jobs that were covered by Social Security and therefore, contributed to the Social Security System.
On the other hand, to apply for SSI, applicants do not need a sufficient work history. SSI is strictly awarded to individuals who cannot qualify for SSDI.
To be eligible for SSI, you must be blind, at least 65 years old, or have a qualifying disability. Moreover, SSI is a needs-based program, so claimants must have extremely limited income and resources to receive benefits.
If you’re unsure which disability program you should file under, leave it to Ficek Law, PC. Our attorney will help determine whether you should apply for SSI or SSDI, and guide you through the process.
Proving Disability to Qualify for Benefits
For all Social Security Disability applicants, it’s mandatory to substantiate your claim with both medical and non-medical evidence. This can include doctor’s notes, test results, other medical documentation, statements from friends and family, etc.
Every impairment must fulfill the SSA’s definition of disability. The criteria for qualifying conditions includes:
- The condition must prevent the applicant from performing Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).
- The condition must have persisted, or be expected to persist, for a minimum of 12 months OR result in death.
- The condition must meet or equal one of the qualifying listings in the Blue Book.
- The condition must be medically determinable.
For those applying for benefits under a blindness claim, they must meet the SSA’s definition of blindness. Qualifying individuals may still be eligible to work and receive disability payments.
Medical Evidence & Documentation
As stated above, when submitting a disability claim, specific documentation supporting your claim will be requested by the SSA. This encompasses medical records like treatment results, ongoing treatment protocols, physician reports, and a general medical history.
Recognizing and gathering the proper supporting evidence can be a daunting task. If you’re unfamiliar with the SSA’s evaluation process, you might skip over essential documentation that could validate your claim.
If you’re applying for disability in South Dakota, reach out to Ficek Law, PC. Our seasoned attorney will guide you through the intricate processes of filing for Social Security Disability.
Other Necessary Information for Your Claim
The SSA will request other information outside medical evidence when you apply for disability. The more information provided, the less likely it is that they will need to make further requests, which could delay your claim.
The SSA will request basic information, employment information, education and training information, etc. This will include:
- Birth certificate
- Phone number
- Names of current & former spouses
- Names & dates of birth of your children
- Where you worked for the last 15 years
- Your rate of pay
- Job titles
- Types of duties you had
- The date your disability started to affect your ability to work
- Your level of education
- Any special training you received
- W-2 (if you have worked in the last 12 months)
Once the necessary information is gathered and submitted, along with medical evidence to support your claim, the SSA will review your application at the state level. Typically, this takes about 3-6 months, but may take longer depending on various circumstances.
Unfortunately, most initial applications are denied. If this occurs, the SSA will explain the reasoning behind their decision. You are then allowed to file an appeal.
SSI & SSDI Appeals
The appeals process can take months to years, depending to which level you take your appeal. There are various stages of the appeals process, including:
- Request for Reconsideration
Your claim is reviewed a second time. You must file a written request for reconsideration within 60 days of the date you received notice of the initial denial.
- Administrative Hearing
If your request for reconsideration results in another denial, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You must request the hearing within 60 days from when you received written notice of the second denial. It can take about 6 to 18 months for the hearing to take place.
- Request A Review by the SSA’s Appeals Council
If your appeal hearing does not result in a favorable determination, the next step is to request a review by the SSA’s Appeals Council.
- Request A Review by Federal Courts
The final stage of the appeals process is to file a civil action in federal court.
Common Reasons for Denial
There are many reasons why disability claims are denied. The following are some of the most common reasons for benefit denial:
- Earning more than the allowed income amount
- Failure to cooperate with the SSA’s protocols and procedures
- Failure to cooperate with your doctor (such as refusing medication or failing to complete prescribed treatments)
- Failure to prove a qualifying medical condition
- Failure to prove inability to work
Working with a qualified disability attorney can greatly increase your chances of obtaining benefits. If you’re filing for SSI or SSDI, you may feel overwhelmed and uncertain of the next steps to take. Contact Ficek Law, PC and our team will help you pursue your claim.
Advantages of a Disability Lawyer
When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits you may find the application process confusing and tedious. While it’s true you can apply for benefits on your own, your chances of getting approved increase when you hire a qualified disability lawyer in South Dakota.
Below are some advantages of working with a Social Security attorney:
- Attorney fees are statutorily fixed at 25% of past-due benefits and are capped at $6,000.
- Attorneys have no rights to future benefits.
- Hiring a lawyer enables you to focus on your health and other important things in your life, rather than your disability claim.
- Most initial claims are denied because the claimant didn’t provide proper documentation, paperwork was not filed correctly, or other application mistakes were made. An experienced attorney will make sure your claim is filed properly and on time.
- You won’t have to communicate with the SSA. Your attorney will handle all communication and update the SSA on your ongoing medical treatments. Your attorney will also ensure the SSA receives all evidence and documentation they need to review and approve your application.
- If you need to file an appeal, your attorney will meticulously review your claim before it is resubmitted.
- If you’re required to attend an administrative hearing, your attorney will represent you before the ALJ.
Ficek Law, PC | Your South Dakota Disability Attorney
Attorney Anton G. Ficek of Ficek Law, PC provides effective legal support to disabled clients. If you’re struggling to apply for disability benefits, contact our firm to schedule a free case consultation. Our dedicated team stands ready to assist you at every juncture of the disability application journey.
We represent clients across South Dakota, including the following counties:
- Brown County
- Minnehaha County
- Lincoln County
- Brookings County