Disability Law
Family Law & Disability Law Firm

Social Security Disability Attorney

“Our clients come to us at some of the most difficult times in their lives. We understand that and give each client the attention they deserve.”

Matt Liebenhaut, Esq.

Filing for Social Security Disability

Social Security disability attorneys at Liebenhaut Law represent individuals of all ages who are unable to work because of a physical, mental, or emotional disability. We assist these individuals in obtaining Disability Insurance Benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you’ve been denied for SSDI or SSI, contact us for a free consultation with a Social Security disability attorney. You only have sixty days from the date of your denial to file your appeal so don’t delay. Above all, if we’re able to represent you, you will not pay unless we win your appeal and obtain benefits for you.

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What are SSDI and SSI?

If you are disabled and can no longer work, you may be entitled to either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI). While both benefits are similar, they have slightly different eligibility criteria. SSDI is funded through Social Security taxes collected from employees’ pay. This means an individual must have been employed and paid into this fund in order to be eligible. The monthly benefit an individual receives is based on earning records of the insured worker.

In contrast, to receive SSI on the basis of a disability an individual must have limited income; limited resources/assets; be a US citizen, national, or an eligible alien; and live in the United States or Mariana Islands. Monthly payments for SSI vary according to need. If you live in Tallahassee or the surrounding areas, and need a social security disability attorney, we can help you apply for either SSDI or SSI.

Has your claim been denied?

If you have been denied benefits, you have a chance at appealing your claim. The Social Security Administration only accepts roughly 35% of initial applications. In fact, appealing may give you the opportunity to explain your case to an Administrative Law Judge during a hearing. While a claimant may attend a hearing unrepresented, representation from a Social Security disability attorney before the Social Security Administration will relieve the burden of preparing your appeal and may increase the chance of a favorable decision. Social Security disability attorneys at Liebenhaut Law help people throughout Tallahassee and the surrounding areas appeal denials.

Compassionate Allowances

The Social Security Administration identifies over 200 serious conditions that may qualify an individual to obtain benefits faster than other applicants. Specifically, the purpose of the Compassionate Allowances list is to help the Social Security Administration fulfill their obligation of quickly providing benefits to those with severe medical conditions. If you suffer from a condition on the Compassionate Allowances list, we can help you obtain your disability benefits in a shorter amount of time. To view the list, please visit: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm

Common Mistakes during Application Process

  • Deadlines. The Social Security Administration is very strict on deadlines. If your initial claim is denied, you have 60 days to submit a written request for reconsideration. If your reconsideration request does not grant you a favorable decision, then you have another 60 days to file your appeal for hearing. When an applicant accidentally misses one of these deadlines, they will have to begin the entire application process over again. At length, the national average hearing wait time is 19.5 months. In Tallahassee, it’s 13 months. Accidentally missing an appeal deadline can postpone your benefits for another year.

  • Not enough information. Without sufficient knowledge of your past work history, physical limitations, medical information and education, Social Security’s examiners will have a limited ability to understand your claim. It is important to provide a proper description of your disability on your initial application to prevent a delay in processing.

  • Necessary documents. Gathering the necessary documents to submit to Social Security is often difficult and time consuming. The most valuable evidence you can submit are Medical Source Statements from your physicians. These statements offer your doctor’s opinion on your conditions and Social Security examiners often weight it heavily. Without Medical Source Statements, your claim may not reach its full potential to result in a favorable decision.

Long-Term Disability Insurance

What is Long-Term Disability Insurance?

If you are unable to work due to sickness or a disabling injury, you may be entitled to Long-Term Disability (LTD) Insurance, if you have an LTD policy through your employers or if you obtained one on your own. LTD insurance protects you from loss of income from an inability to work due to illness, injury, or accident for an extended period of time. For instance, some estimates state that the average employee with a long-term disability misses 2.5 years of work. LTD insurance does not provide insurance for work-related accidents or injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation insurance.

LTD insurance is usually provided by employers. Important to realize there are a variety of plans available for employers to offer as part of your comprehensive employee benefits package. Long term disability payments to the employee, in some policies, have a defined period of time. For example, two years is often the maximum benefit period for mental disabilities. Other policies pay an employee until he or she is 65 years old, this is the ideal policy.

Has your LTD claim been denied?

If your claim has been denied or terminated, or if your policy is not being honored, you may need LTD insurance representation. Whether your long-term disability insurance policy is provided by your employer or independent can make a big difference. If your insurance policy is provided by your employer, the nature of your employer, specifically whether you are employed by the federal, state or local government or certain nonprofit entities, may also have an impact. For example, insurance companies like Reliance, The Standard, Prudential, and Cigna often issue unfair denials of LTD insurance claims, betting that you won’t hire a lawyer to appeal their denial. Although there are a lot of personal injury lawyers in Tallahassee, there are very few Tallahassee long-term disability insurance lawyers. Contact us today for a free consultation.

What is an Own-Occupation versus Any-Occupation Disability Insurance Policy?

An own-occupation provision in your disability insurance policy provides benefits for a period of time during which you are no longer able to perform the material responsibilities of your job. On the other hand, any-occupation provisions only provide benefits for a period of time in which you are unable to perform the material responsibilities of any job in the national economy. Most Florida disability insurance policies, provide a period of time during which the policy will provide disability benefits under an own-occupation policy (usually one or two years). After that period of time, these policies become any-occupation policies that will require proving an inability to perform any work. However, even in these circumstances, Florida courts will require the insurer prove the insured approaches the “dignity of livelihood” relative to the past work of the employee.

What difference does it make if my policy is employer provided?

The law that applies to a dispute differs greatly depending upon whether the policy was provided as an employee benefit. If your employer is not a federal, state or local government, or certain other organizations, the law that governs your insurance company’s actions is the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA grants the insurance company a great deal of discretion in determining what constitutes a disability. However, if your policy was not provided as part of an employee-benefit plan, state contract and insurance law applies. This is generally a much friendlier law for LTD claimants.