Pennsylvania Social Security Disability Lawyer
When Pennsylvania residents find themselves unable to work because of an illness or injury, it can be a frightening time. The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs two programs that provide financial assistance to the disabled. But the SSA denies many people’s initial claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), leaving them feeling disheartened and helpless.
Having a claim rejected is not the end of the road. Attorney Kelvin L. Morris has dedicated his career to fighting the hard fight for worthy clients. He knows how to navigate the SSA’s procedures and requirements to pursue successful appeals. And he believes in helping adults and children who are already facing challenges and need a trusted counselor on their team.
What Is the Social Security Administration’s Definition of Disability?
The SSA uses a stricter definition of disability than other programs. It does not provide benefits for short-term or partial disability—only total disability.
For an applicant to qualify for SSA benefits, all the following must be true:
- The applicant cannot work or engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medical condition,
- The claimant cannot do their previous job or other work because of the condition, and
- The condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
Doing some work does not always disqualify someone from receiving disability benefits. Generally, the SSA does not count work as SGA unless the person earns more than $1,350 per month. So those who are trying to work should not be discouraged from applying for benefits.
SSDI vs. SSI
How does SSDI differ from SSI? While both set income limits, they have different eligibility requirements.
The SSDI program pays benefits to those who have not reached their full Social Security retirement age and to some family members. To be eligible, the applicant must be “insured,” meaning they worked recently and for the minimum required time in a job where they paid Social Security taxes on their earnings.
The SSA determines whether claimants have worked long enough by assigning work credits based on total yearly wages or self-employment income. Most people must earn 40 credits to qualify. Twenty of the credits must be from the last 10 years. But younger people may be eligible with fewer. An attorney can help determine whether a client meets the program’s minimum requirements.
SSI funds are available to people who are 65 or older, blind, or disabled and have limited income and resources. The SSA defines income as money earned working as well as compensation from other sources like workers’ compensation, unemployment benefit programs, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and friends or relatives. It also considers the applicant’s access to free food and shelter. Additionally, an applicant’s resources like personal property, vehicles, or land cannot be worth more than a total of $2,000 for an individual or child or $3,000 per couple.
How Does the Disability Application Process Work?
Applicants applying for disability benefits must reveal a lot of personal information. The SSA wants to see the applicant’s:
- Biographical and family information,
- Education and military service background,
- Work history for the last 15 years, and
- Medical information and medical records.
The SSA accepts applications in person, by phone, or online. Once it receives an application, the SAA will do an initial eligibility review. Then the Disability Determination Services office in the applicant’s state makes the ultimate decision about whether an applicant qualifies for benefits.
The SSA approves only about 20% of disability applications following the initial application. However, the likelihood of having your claim approved increases substantially when you have a lawyer to assist you. Attorney Kelvin L. Morris can help you prepare your application and maximize your chances of getting approved quickly, so you can start collecting your benefits.
Because the administration denies a large number of applications, SSDI appeals and SSI appeals are common. There are four levels of review. An applicant who plans to appeal should consult with an experienced Pennsylvania Social Security disability lawyer soon after receiving a denial letter because the time limit for appealing the decision is short. Attorney Kelvin L. Morris prides himself on being available to clients whenever they need him. He also knows the Social Security appeal process takes time and effort, so he offers his clients a realistic assessment of their chances of success.
Children’s Disability Benefits Options
The Law Office of Kelvin L. Morris also protects children by fighting for the benefits needed to support them. The SSA compensates children with disabilities and children of disabled parents. Under limited circumstances, it also provides benefits for a parent caring for a disabled child.
SSI for a Disabled Child
A child living on a limited income may be entitled to SSI. Someone under age 18 is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment that:
- Causes marked and severe functional limitations,
- Can be expected to result in death, or
- Is likely to continuously last for at least a year.
For kids, emotional and learning problems count as impairments. SSI for children is granted when the child is the person who is disabled.
SSDI for Children of Disabled Parents
It makes sense that if a parent cannot provide for themselves, they won’t be able to afford to care for their children either. If the family provider passed away, Social Security may provide the only safety net. That is why the SSA allows kids to receive benefits based on their parents’ records.
Normally, Social Security pays only for unmarried children under the age of 18, but full-time students continue to receive benefits until they graduate or until two months after they turn 19, whichever comes first. And disabled children may get paid even longer.
SSDI Child Benefits Back Pay
Unfortunately, the SSA often takes a long time to make appeals decisions. If the claimant wins on appeal, the SSA owes them past-due benefits, or back pay, for the period when the applicant should have been paid disability benefits. While SSDI payments have a five-month waiting period, benefits that should have been paid starting from six months after the onset date to the approval day would be due in back pay. The same is true of SSDI benefits owed to kids.
Attorney Kelvin L. Morris knows how hard it can be to wait for benefits when a family’s income stream has dried up. But it can be worth filing an appeal if it means a disabled parent will finally have the financial security they need. And because SSA pays attorney fees out of back pay, there may be no upfront cost to seeking legal representation.
Get Help Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits
Above all else, Attorney Kelvin L. Morris is an advocate for those who feel like their pleas for help are being ignored. As an experienced SSDI and SSI lawyer, he can help you file your disability application or pursue an appeal if your application was denied. Claimants have a much better chance of winning an SSDI or SSI appeal with the help of a skilled attorney.
Attorney Kelvin L. Morris has also been acknowledged as a “Super Lawyer” and received a “Top 40 Under 40” award. He cares about his neighbors in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania and knows what it takes to succeed. Contact the Law Office of Kelvin L. Morris today for a free consultation.