Nashua, NH SSDI
Social Security Attorney Assisting Claimants in the Nashua Area
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides benefits to qualifying individuals who are not able to work because of a serious injury, illness, or other medical impairment. The program pays monthly benefits to millions of people around the country. The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages the SSDI program and has six field offices in New Hampshire. One of these field offices is in Nashua, the second-largest city in the state with over 86,000 residents as of the 2010 census. Applying for SSDI benefits in New Hampshire can be complicated and time-consuming, but it can be made much easier with the assistance of a knowledgeable legal professional. Social Security lawyer Russell J. Goldsmith has substantial experience helping Nashua residents and others assert their right to benefits. We can guide you in preparing your application and appealing an initial denial if needed.
Filing an Application for Benefits
To begin the SSDI claim process, you must file an application with the SSA. A successful SSDI claim requires you to establish that you have enough work history to qualify for benefits and that you meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled.” Once the SSA approves your claim and you begin receiving benefits, you must notify the SSA of any changed circumstances, including worsened or improved medical diagnoses, new sources of income (including income associated with attempts to return to work), and changed living arrangements.
Establishing Eligibility with Work Credits
SSDI benefits are only available to individuals who have worked and paid into the SSDI program sufficiently through their payroll taxes. The SSA measures work experience in annual quarters. One quarter of work equals one “work credit,” so you can earn up to four work credits per calendar year. For 2015, a quarter of coverage is earned for each $1,260.00 in Social Security taxed earnings. Thus, earnings in the amount of $5,440.00 would provide an individual with 4 quarters of coverage.
Individuals under the age of 24 must have at least six work credits, equal to one-and-a-half years of work, to be eligible for SSDI benefits. The number increases with your age, up to a maximum of 40 required work credits for individuals age 62 or older.
Medical Eligibility Requirements
In order to receive SSDI benefits, you must prove that you are “disabled,” meaning you have a diagnosed injury, illness, or other condition that prevents you from working and is likely to persist for at least one year. The SSA maintains a list of impairments, commonly known as the “Blue Book,” that generally qualify for the SSDI program. Establishing a qualifying impairment requires extensive medical evidence from your doctor or doctors.
You might be able to qualify without a specific diagnosis of one of the listed impairments, assuming your medical conditions cause such severe impairment that you are deemed vocationally incapable of performing either your past relevant work (types of work that were performed in the 15 years prior to becoming disabled) or any forms of gainful employment that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. Moreover, as one ages, the Social Security recognizes that transferring to types of work different from what one has performed in the past becomes more difficult. With this in mind, the Social Security regulations contain rules to address these concerns which are referred to as SSA’s medical-vocational guidelines, also known as the “grids.” The SSA will determine the level of work you are still capable of doing, which is called your “residual functional capacity” (RFC). It then assesses your work experience, skill level, and education level. It takes all of these factors, as well as your age, and looks on a grid to see if you are deemed capable of transferring to other forms of work that would be deemed to exist in in significant numbers throughout the national economy.
The SSA does not require that you show you are completely incapable of working. Instead, you cannot be able to perform “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). If you earn above a certain amount, the SSA will presume that you are capable of SGA. In 2016, the SGA amount was $1,130 per month. The SSA adjusts the amount upward every year to account for inflation.
Appealing a Denial of Your Claim
Relatively few SSDI applications are approved outright, but many more applications receive approval after an appeal. Possible reasons for the denial of a claim range from minor, easily correctable errors to broad findings of ineligibility. Appealing the denial of an SSDI claim in New Hampshire requires a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Changes in Your Circumstances
Any changed circumstances involving your disability could have an immediate impact on your benefits. You are obligated to report changes to the SSA. In some circumstances, the SSA may continue paying benefits to you in one amount when the benefits should be in a lower amount, or after you should no longer be receiving benefits at all. You are liable for repaying any overpayments to the SSA, so it is critical to be aware of all of these circumstances, and likewise to ensure that you report any changes in income circumstances promptly.
Seek Legal Guidance in Nashua for Your SSDI Application
Applying for government benefits requires careful preparation and close attention. Experienced SSDI attorney Russell J. Goldsmith can assist people in Nashua and the surrounding communities with this process. He can provide you with a detailed, honest assessment of your case, and he can aggressively pursue your claim before the SSA. Contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith online or at 1-800-773-8622 to set up a free and confidential consultation.