How Can A Houston Disability Lawyer Help You?

Suffering an injury or illness that precludes you from being able to work can lead to a stressful situation, especially for someone who is already struggling to make ends meet. The prospect of seeking financial assistance can be very frightening, but it is important for people to know what benefits they may be entitled to. 

An experienced Houston disability lawyer can help you get started on the long road ahead by clearly explaining which government programs can provide financial support during an injury or illness.

If you need help making ends meet to cover medical expenses and the costs of daily living, you may be able to qualify for disability benefits. However, most people who apply initially receive a denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA), which is the federal government agency that oversees these assistance programs. An attorney can help you avoid unnecessary denials and expedite what can be a lengthy process.

Types of Social Security Disability Benefits in Houston

In general, the SSA offers two types of benefit programs for individuals who are disabled and cannot earn a living: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI and SSI are the nation’s primary safety net to help those who cannot work as a result of a disability.

However, the Social Security programs exclusively provide assistance for total disability. They do not offer benefits for an individual’s short-term condition or partial disability.

In addition, if you live in Houston, you may qualify for supplemental disability payments from the state of Texas. A Houston disability lawyer can provide additional information on how to apply.

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance

For an individual to qualify for SSDI benefits, there are two main criteria they will first have to meet:

Sufficient work credits. An applicant would have needed to work a sufficient number of years in jobs for which they paid into Social Security taxes and earned Social Security work credits, which are based on a worker’s total yearly wages or self-employment income. 

houston disability attorneyThe maximum number of credits an individual can earn every year is four, and the amount of income required to earn a work credit changes every year. How many work credits a person will need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on how old they are when they become disabled and can no longer work.

Qualifying disability. In general, the SSA will consider a person to be disabled if their medical condition prevents them from doing the work they did before, the medical condition makes it impossible for them to adjust to doing different work, and the condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or is expected to be fatal. To evaluate whether a person is disabled, the SSA reviews the application against five questions:

  1. Is the applicant working? If the applicant had worked in 2021 and earned, on average, more than $1,310 per month, they generally will not be found to be disabled. If they are not working or earning $1,310 or less per month, on average, the SSA will continue to the next question.
  2. Is the applicant’s condition “severe”? To move on to the next question, the applicant must have a condition that significantly limits their ability to perform basic activities relating to their work for at least a year, such as sitting, walking, lifting, and communicating.
  3. Does the applicant’s condition appear within the SSA’s list of qualifying medical conditions? The SSA maintains a list of conditions for each of the major body systems that it deems severe enough to preclude a person from earning a living. If the illness or injury does not appear on the list, the SSA further evaluates to determine whether it can qualify as disabling.
  4. Can the applicant perform the work they used to do? If the medical impairment does not prevent the applicant from working, the SSA will generally reject their application for disability benefits.
  5. Can the applicant perform any other type of work? Considering the applicant’s medical conditions, past work experience, age, training, and education, the SSA looks to see whether there is any other work they can perform to earn a living. If the SSA determines that there is no other work they can do, they will likely qualify for benefits.

How to Qualify for SSI Benefits in Houston

The SSI benefits program is designed to assist people with limited income and resources who are blind, disabled, or age 65 or older. Unlike SSDI, receiving assistance through SSI does not require any type of prior work.

In 2021, the SSA defines “limited resources” as the value of all of a person’s possessions being less than $2,000 for an individual or a child and less than $3,000 for a couple. Some of the resources the SSA evaluates include cash, bank accounts, real property, vehicles, and life insurance policies.

In addition, to qualify for SSI, an applicant must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or qualified alien
  • Live in one of the 50 states; Washington, D.C.; or the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Not be absent from the United States for 30 or more consecutive days or for a full calendar month
  • Not be confined to a hospital, prison, or other institution at the government’s expense
  • Applies for all other payments and cash benefits for which they may be eligible
  • Permits the SSA to contact financial institutions for records about them

How to Find a Disability Lawyer in Houston

While it may seem difficult to apply for Social Security disability benefits, an experienced Social Security disability lawyer in Houston can simplify the process for you. Seeking the benefits to which you may be entitled can help you take care of your family and avoid financial ruin during one of the most challenging times of your life.

Here Are Some Tips For Finding The Right Disability Attorney In Houston:

  • Seek referrals from people you know and trust. You can ask family, friends, and co-workers if they have used an attorney in the past to seek disability benefits. Many individuals you know will be happy to refer their own attorneys if they are pleased with the results.
  • Search online. You can search online for an SSI attorney in Houston, as well as read prior clients’ testimonials and reviews.
  • Review advertisements. Look for advertisements in local newspapers, the Yellow Pages of your telephone book, radio ads, TV commercials, and billboards. Many disability lawyers provide a free consultation.
  • Contact a bar association. Call your city, state, or county bar association for a list of attorneys who have experience handling disability benefits claims that are similar to yours.

Applying for disability benefits either through SSI or SSDI can be a difficult process: It can take months, if not years, to have your claims processed and approved. If you are currently going through the disability benefits process, you probably understand all too well what a devastating blow it can be when a claim for disability benefits is denied.

To improve your chances of having your disability benefits approved, contact a disability attorney today for assistance. Our Houston Social Security disability attorneys have handled many claims just like yours and are prepared to stand by your side through every step of the process.