Social Security Disability (SSD) helps disabled workers by providing financial support while they are dealing with severe medical conditions. Sadly, applying for SSD can be a frustrating process, and it’s common for first-time applications to be denied.

The New Orleans Social Security Disability lawyers at Dudley DeBosier are dedicated to helping you claim your benefits. We have decades of experience dealing with the Social Security system and are committed to guiding you through every step of the application or appeals process.

No matter where you are in the process, our New Orleans Social Security Disability attorneys can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and start securing the financial support you need.

How Social Security Defines Disability

The Social Security Administration has a strict definition of disability. Benefits are only available for total disability, not partial or short-term. You qualify if:

  1. Your medical condition prevents you from working at a substantial gainful activity (SGA) level.
  2. You cannot do your previous work or adjust to other work because of your condition.
  3. Your condition has lasted or is expected to last at least 1 year or result in death.

Social Security assumes that families have other resources, like workers’ compensation, insurance, savings, and investments, to support them during short-term disabilities.

How the SSA Decides If You Have a Qualifying Disability

If you have enough work history to qualify for disability benefits, the SSA follows a five-step process to determine if you have a qualifying disability. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Determining Work Activity

The SSA checks your earnings to see if you are performing substantial gainful activity (SGA). In 2024, if you earn more than $1,550 a month ($2,590 if you’re blind), you generally cannot be considered disabled. If you earn less than that amount, your application goes to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office.

Step 2: Determining the Severity of Your Condition

Your condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities like lifting, standing, or remembering for at least 12 months. If it does, the SSA proceeds to the next step. If not, you are not considered disabled.

Step 3: Is Your Condition on the List of Disabling Conditions?

The SSA has a list of medical conditions severe enough to prevent SGA. If your condition is on the list or as severe as those listed, you are considered disabled. Otherwise, the SSA moves to the next step.

Step 4: Reviewing Work History

The SSA determines if your medical condition prevents you from doing any of your past work. If you can still do your past work, you are not considered disabled. If you cannot, the SSA goes to the final step.

Step 5: Determining Your Ability to Work

The SSA evaluates if you can do any other work despite your condition, considering factors like your age, education, and skills. If you cannot do other work, you qualify for disability benefits. If you can, your claim is denied.

Special Situations:

  • If You’re Blind or Have Low Vision: Legal blindness means vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/200 in your better eye or your visual field is 20 degrees or less. Special rules apply to blind individuals, including a higher earnings limit of $2,590 per month in 2024.
  • Survivors: Benefits are available for survivors of deceased workers.
  • Children With Disabilities: Special benefits are available for children with disabilities.
  • Wounded Warriors and Veterans: Additional benefits are available for wounded warriors and veterans.

If you’re considering filing an SSD claim or appealing a denial, contact Dudley DeBosier today to get a free consultation.

How Disability Pay Is Calculated

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are based on your average earnings from jobs where you paid Social Security taxes. The SSA adjusts your past earnings for inflation and calculates your average earnings from your 35 highest-earning years.

Different percentages are applied to portions of your average earnings. In 2024, the percentages are:

  • 90% of the first $1,174
  • 32% of the amount between $1,174 and $7,078
  • 15% of the amount above $7,078

The totals from each of those three categories are added together to determine the monthly amount you’ll receive if you qualify for SSDI.

Dudley DeBosier Can Help

At Dudley DeBosier, our experienced New Orleans Social Security Disability lawyers are prepared to guide you through every step of the process. We’re dedicated to making this often-overwhelming process simpler by ensuring you understand what to expect.

We’ll review your case in detail, determine your eligibility based on the Social Security Administration’s guidelines, and gather all necessary evidence like medical records and employment history to boost your chances of approval.

We’ll also help you fill out all paperwork accurately and on time. If your initial application is denied, we’ll represent you in any appeals. Reach out to Dudley DeBosier today to schedule your free consultation.