Applying for Social Security Disability in Arkansas: The Definitive Guide

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Table of Contents:

  1. What is Social Security Disability
    1. What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
    2. What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
  2. What are the requirements to apply for SSI and SSDI?
    1. Basic Non-medical Requirement
    2. Social Security Administration Qualification
  3. Applying for Benefits
    1. Initial Application
    2. The Reconsideration Level
    3. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing
    4. The Appeals Council
    5. The Federal Appeal Level
  4. Approval or Denial
    1. Denial
    2. Approval
      1. SSI
      2. SSDI
  5. How Can A Social Security Attorney Help?

What is Social Security Disability?

The Social Security Administration created two federal programs to help individuals with disabilities. These are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). 

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Social Security Disability Insurance is an insurance program that pays monthly benefits to those who become injured and are not able to work before qualifying for Social Security. To qualify for this type of disability payment individuals must have obtained a certain number of “work credits” by paying Social Security taxes. If you have not worked long enough to be approved for SSDI, then you can apply for SSI instead.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income is a Social Security program that pays monthly benefits to people who have little or no income or resources and who are disabled, blind, or 65 years of age or older. Children who are disabled or blind can also apply for this income. With Supplemental Security Income, individuals are not required to have any number of work credits.

What are the requirements to apply for SSI and SSDI?

Basic Non-medical Requirement

Before you can be eligible for Social Security Disability you must first meet the non-medical requirements established by the Social Security Administration. The non-medical requirement is that your physical or mental condition must be severe enough that it prevents you from working for a year or longer.  If you are certain that you meet this qualification you can begin the application process, detailed below.

Since this can be a very long process ranging from 6 months to 24 months we highly recommend reaching out to an attorney that is familiar with the application. We are the mediary between you and the Disability Determination Services or DDSs. Wren Law Firm has an expert team that will help guide you through the following:

  • The initial application
  • Managing deadlines 
  • Answering questions about your case,
  • Keeping  the SSA informed of all old and new medical providers

Social Security Administration Qualification

Once you qualify for the non-medical requirement, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a list of basic questions that will help qualify an individual for either of these two types of income. They are the following:

  • Are you working?
  • Is your condition severe?
  • Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
  • Can you do the work you previously did?
  • Can you do any type of work?

Each of these questions is designed to determine your ability to work but do not directly qualify you for these benefits. It is important to realize that the SSA is trying to disqualify individuals who do not present a strong case for receiving Social Security Disability benefits.

Your age, education, and work experience play a large role in determining whether you are disabled.  A doctor or judge reviewing your case will assess a 20 year old much differently than a 60 year old. An older person is less likely to have a transferable skill to do another job.  The SSA will also look at your education, someone who is more educated can most likely transition and learn another job more than someone with little or no education. 

A vocational expert will look at the nature of your job in terms of skill level. For example,  Is your job sedentary in nature or heavy labor such as road construction? If you are older they may determine whether you are disabled using what Social Security calls a GRID system. This GRID system can be complex and you should consult with an attorney before proceeding.

Below are some common reasons someone may be denied for Social Security Disability:

  • You earn too much income or you own too many assets
  • Your disability won’t last long enough
  • The SSA can’t find you
  • You refuse to cooperate
  • You fail to follow prescribed therapy
  • You have a drug addiction or alcohol addiction
  • You have been convicted of a crime
  • You commit fraud

Wren Law Firm has handled hundreds of these cases and will help you develop a strong case for why you deserve these benefits. Through years of experience we have learned how to craft winning cases to qualify our clients for Social Security Disability benefits and get you the compensation you deserve.

Applying for Benefits

The Social Security Disability process consists of 5 different levels.  The initial level, the reconsideration level, the administrative Law Judge level , the appeals level, and the federal appeals level. 

Initial Application

The Social Security Benefits process begins with the application level. The applicant must prove their need and provide enough medical documentation from qualifying professionals to confirm this need. The DDS often requires numerous sources confirming the disability and may require additional to be seen during the application process. In addition, you may be asked questions about, detailed work history, daily activity, prescriptions, and overwhelming evidence that this disability will last longer than 12 months. 

During this time it is very important to submit all documentation inside of the set deadlines. This initial application can can take anywhere from a few months to a year to receive their decision. According to the SSA, only 37% of applicants are approved at the initial application, this number includes those who have an attorney assist them while applying. Therefore, an individual applying without any assistance has a considerably low approval rate in this first level. 

The Reconsideration Level

The appeal level is essentially a repeat of the initial application, however, additional evidence can be added to support your application. This appeal process, in most cases, yields the same results as the initial application. However, the process can take another few months to complete especially if deadlines are not met and reapplication is not prompt.

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing

This level offers you the best chance of obtaining disability benefits. During this phase you or your legal representative will request a hearing. The hearing will be approximately 15 to 20 minutes generally held at the local Social Security Office that services the area closest to your home. 

At the hearing you will be able to have a legal representative that is familiar with the Social Security laws help you design a theory for your case. Your representation should  prepare to you answer questions in front of an Administrative Law Judge about your condition and why you cannot work. The Judge comparing your testimony to your medical records and medical conditions. He is also able to visually see you and ask you direct questions regarding your reasons for not being able to work. 

There will be a vocational expert whose job is to determine if there is a job in the national economy that you are capable of performing. It is very imperative at this stage that you have a lawyer or legal representative who understands the process and the law to advocate for you. This also is your best chance of winning.

The Appeals Council

The appeals council is the 4th level of appeal.  This occurs when you are denied by the Administrative Law Judge and you disagree with their decision. At this level you must have substantial evidence that, with the information that was submitted at the hearing, the judge made an error. At this point a positive decision is unlikely.

The Federal Appeal Level

If the local appeals council’s decision is negative then you can appeal to the Federal Level, however, the local appeals council must allow you to do so.  In certain circumstances the appeals council may return it back down to the ALJ level for another hearing. Appealing the case to the Federal Level is not very fruitful and very few cases are won at this level.  It is best to consult the advice of a professional before appealing to the Federal Level.

Approval or Denial

Denial

If you have been denied benefits not much can be done unless new conditions arise. If you applied without an attorney on your first application it would be beneficial to have an attorney review your case. 

Approval

If you are approved you will be given the following information:

  • When benefits start
  • How much benefits will be 
  • When and how payments are made 
  • If you are required to pay taxes on disability benefits
  • How long payments will continue
  • If you are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid
  • When your first review hearing will be

There are certain guidelines for keeping your disability benefits and the SSA is allowed to review your case at any time. Depending on the severity of your condition and the likelihood of improvement, the first review can be anywhere from six months to seven years. In between reviews it is mandatory that the person receiving benefits keep the SSA informed of any changes to your condition. They will require updates about lifestyles and household changes depending on if you were approved for SSI or SSDI. 

These may include, but are not limited to:

SSI:

  • If there is a change in the number of people who live with you
  • if you have a change in income
  • if you obtain assets
  • if you enter or leave an institution 
  • if you marry, separate or divorce
  • if you leave the US
  • if you become addicted to drugs or alcohol  
  • your benefits might even change if you move to California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York or Vermont

SSDI:

  • if you move
  • if you change bank accounts 
  • If your condition changes 
  • If you go to work
  • If you leave the US
  • if you receive other disability benefits 
  • If you cannot manage your own funds 
  • If the recipient dies
  • If your child, who is receiving these benefits, reaches the age of 18

Once approved it is important to be diligent in keeping the SSA informed to continue reeving your benefits.

How Can A Social Security Attorney Help?

There are many nuances to filing an application for Social Security Disability and every step is important to success. In addition, the process can take years to complete. Without attorney representation on your initial application you risk being denied and having to restart, further prolonging your wait.

Your attorney will assist you along every step and can increase your chance of being approved by a considerable margin. An attorney that is knowledgeable about disability rights will be equipped to handle the legal issues that arise as well as assist you with documentation and deadlines. They will also help you obtain certain medical records that will be vital to your success and can advise you on which doctors to see. 

Wren Law Firm has handled hundreds of SSI and SSDI cases in Arkansas. We know the best way to help individuals struggling with a disability the compensation they deserve. 

Why Choose Wren Law Firm?

We began our law firm in 1997 to provide our community with the best legal consultation of any firm in the state of Arkansas. We know you have many options when it comes to legal representation, contact us now to learn how we can help you. 

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Injuries can happen at any time of day. We have 24/7 phone service so that you can feel secure in your time of need. Call Wren Law Firm at 501-523-1000 or toll free at 800-300-1775.

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With over 20 years of experience in injury and employment law, we provide the highest level of expertise to all of our clients.

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We believe nobody should have to worry about whether they can afford attorney representation. Therefore, We only get paid when we obtain a settlement for you.

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Unsure where to start? Call Wren Law Firm at 501-523-1000 or toll free at 800-300-1775 and we will evaluate your case to give you the best legal advice and next steps.

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