Applying For Social Security Disability
If you are seeking disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are a number of ways to apply – online, by telephone or in person at one of the local field offices in New Mexico. Because navigating the bureaucracy is complicated, however, it helps to have the advice and counsel of an experienced disability benefits attorney. Let us help you properly file your application for disability benefits!
Roeschke Law, LLC provides comprehensive legal services to disabled individuals and their families. We have working knowledge of rules governing federal disability benefit programs and patiently guide each client through the entire claims process.
The SSD/SSI Application Process
Obtaining benefits under the SSDI or SSI programs starts with submitting an application with the SSA. Given the heavy caseload the agency handles each year, this can be a lengthy process, and a decision on an initial claim can take six months or longer.
Specific personal information that must be provided with the application includes:
- Social Security Number
- Birth certificate
- Doctor contact information
- Complete medical history
- Names and dosages of prescriptions
- Detailed work history
- Copy of most recent W-2
Additionally, the application contains a series of questions about your medical condition and work history as well as a detailed questionnaire about your activities of daily living. Medical records from your doctor must also be provided. It is important to note that New Mexico law allows medical providers to charge a fee for copies of medical records: up to $30 for the first 15 pages and $0.25 for each additional page.
In order to be approved, it is necessary to demonstrate that you are incapable of performing any substantial gainful activity (SGA). This does not mean you cannot work, however there is a strict limit to how much you can earn each month (this amount is adjusted annually). If you exceed that limit, the SSA will find that you are performing SGA and the claim will be denied. Ultimately, your impairment must have lasted or be expected to last twelve months or longer or result in death.
Evaluating A Social Security Disability Benefits Claim
An SSA examiner will initially review your claim to determine whether you have earned enough work credits to be eligible. Work credits are based on your total annual wages, up to four credits each year. Also, the number of credits you need depends on your age at the time you first became disabled. This means that the older you are, the more work credits you will need. Generally, forty work credits are needed, and half of these must have been earned in the last ten years, ending with the year you became disabled. If the examiner finds you have earned the requisite work credits, the application is sent to Disability Determination Services for a complete review.
Disability Determination Services
The New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation administers the state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) program. In short, DDS evaluates whether the claim meets the criteria for medical eligibility. This involves reviewing all of the information and medical records, and ascertaining whether the impairment is included on the listing of qualifying medical conditions. If DDS determines that the condition is not on the list, the application may still be approved, provided that the condition is medically equal to an impairment on the list. DDS will also determine whether or not you are capable of performing the same type of work you did before becoming disabled, or any other type of work.
If DDS finds that the medical information does not support your claim, you may be required to attend one or more consultative exams. These are conducted by an independent medical professional selected by the SSA, however, your doctor is also permitted to attend. The findings of these exams will weigh heavily in determining the outcome of the claim.
Once DDS reaches a decision about the claim, you will receive a notification letter. An approval notice will include information about the amount of the monthly benefit, the date benefits begin, and whether or not the benefits are retroactive. If you claim is denied, the letter will provide an explanation for the denial and inform you of your right to appeal the decision.
New Mexico Disability Benefits Attorneys
Roeschke Law, LLC has extensive experience helping clients navigate the disability benefits application process and is dedicated to achieving successful outcomes. We work closely with our clients, explain all of their rights, and collaborate with their medical providers to ensure that records will support the claim. In the event an application is denied, we pursue all phases of the appeals process and routinely represent clients in disability hearings.
We are keenly aware that coping with a disability can be overwhelming, and dealing with the SSA is a daunting challenge. Our guiding principle is to treat each client with dignity and respect and help them obtain the disability benefits they deserve. Call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.