How to find a Birmingham Social Security disability attorney
Roughly 1.3 million people in Alabama have a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The good news is that the federal government provides Social Security benefits to people who are unable to work due to a disability.
The bad news is that approximately 65 percent of Social Security disability claims are denied.
Read on to find out which Social Security disability program is right for you and how you can locate an attorney to help you beat the odds and get your claim approved.
What are the common Social Security disability programs?
There are 2 main types of Social Security disability programs:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSDI provides financial benefits to people who are unable to work because of a long-term disability.
To qualify for SSDI, you must:
- Have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration's (SSA) definition of disability. You can find the SSA's definition of disability here. In short, you must be unable to perform any type of work due to a medical condition that is expected to result in death or last for at least 1 year.
- Have worked long enough. As you work, you acquire "work credits" based on your total yearly wages. In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have accumulated enough work credits. The number of work credits you must acquire depends on your age and when you became disabled.
SSI is similar to SSDI, but it's for people who haven't worked long enough to receive SSDI (for example, children and people with inconsistent work histories).
To qualify for SSI, you must:
- Be blind, disabled or at least 65 years old. If you're under the age of 18, you're considered disabled if you have a physical or mental impairment that results in severe functional limitations and can be expected to last for at least 1 year. If you're over the age of 18, the adult definition of disability applies.
- Have limited resources and countable income. Resources are things you own, such as cash, stocks, land, life insurance and personal property. The resource limit is $2,000 for an individual or child and $3,00 for a couple. Income is anything you receive during a calendar month that can be used to meet your needs for food and shelter (with many exceptions). The income limit is the federal benefit rate (FBR), which is $841 for an individual and $1,261 for a couple in 2022. Remember, not all income is counted by the SSA, which means you can make more than the FBR limit and still qualify.
How do I file for Social Security benefits in Birmingham?
In Alabama, there are 3 ways to apply for Social Security benefits:
- You can apply online.
- You can apply over the telephone by calling 1-800-772-1213 (1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing).
- You can visit your local Social Security office and apply in person.
There are 2 Social Security field offices in Birmingham:
Trussville Executive Park
1972 Gadsden Highway
Birmingham, AL 35235
1200 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr Blvd.
Birmingham, AL 35285
Information to gather before filling out your Social Security disability application includes:
- Birth certificate
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
- Most recent tax returns
- Medical records already in your possession
- A completed adult disability report
- Workers' compensation information (settlement agreement, date of injury, claim number)
- Names and dates of your minor children and spouse
- Checking or savings account numbers
What do I do if my Social Security disability claim is denied?
Applicants have 60 days to appeal an unfavorable decision in Alabama. Here's what the appeal process looks like:
- Reconsideration. Someone who didn't take part in reviewing your initial application will reconsider your application.
- Hearing with an administrative law judge. If your reconsideration is denied, you can request an in-person hearing with the Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR).
- Review by Appeals Council. The Appeals Council looks at all requests for review, but it may deny a request if it believes the hearing decision was correct.
- Federal court review. Your last chance at receiving benefits is appealing to the federal district court.
Social Security disability approval rates
Source: Citizens Disability
Should I hire a Birmingham Social Security disability attorney?
Although it's not required, hiring an attorney to handle your Social Security disability claim can save you a lot of trouble and may be the difference between your claim being approved or denied.
Here are some of the potential benefits of hiring a Birmingham Social Security disability attorney:
- Avoid paperwork. When you apply for disability benefits, you'll gather A LOT of documents and fill out A LOT of paperwork. This process can be particularly challenging for someone in poor health. A disability attorney can gather the necessary information for you and make sure the forms are filled out correctly.
- Avoid missing deadlines. Missing an important deadline will almost certainly result in the denial or delay of your claim. A disability attorney can ensure you stay organized and meet all of the required deadlines.
- Experienced representation. An experienced Birmingham Social Security disability lawyer knows the ins and outs of the approval and appeals process. Keep in mind that if your claim is denied, you'll probably need to have a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. These hearings can be confusing and nerve-wracking. An experienced attorney can fully prepare you for the hearing and make the appropriate legal and medical arguments to the judge.
- No upfront fees. Under Alabama law, attorney fees in Social Security disability cases are capped at 25 percent or $6,000, whichever is less. What's more, disability attorneys typically work on a contingent fee basis, meaning they don't get paid unless you win.
How do I find the right Birmingham Social Security disability attorney?
According to the Birmingham Bar Association, there are roughly 36,000 active attorneys in Birmingham. So how do you find the right attorney to handle your Social Security disability claim?
Locate an attorney who has experience with your legal issue. You can use our free online legal directory to locate an experienced Social Security disability attorney in Birmingham.
Meet with at least 1 attorney. To figure out whether the attorney is a good fit, consider preparing a list of questions for the attorney.
Birmingham Social Security disability attorney Bernard Nomberg recommends finding an attorney who has experience litigating your specific type of case. Once you've done that, he recommends reading available reviews and taking the time to meet with the attorney before committing. Bernard offers free initial consultations.
Additional Birmingham Social Security disability resources
We know that living with a disability can be a challenge, especially when you're trying to obtain Social Security disability insurance.
Here are some resources that might help:
Free or low-cost health care facilities
5099 Caldwell Mill Rd
Birmingham, AL 35242
1600 Carraway Blvd
Birmingham, AL 35234
1 Health South Pkwy
Birmingham, AL 35243
2000 6th Ave
South Birmingham, AL 35249
1400 Sixth Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35233
Mental health resources
2 Metroplex Drive, #500
Birmingham, AL 35209
2010 Brookwood Med Ctr Drive
Birmingham, AL 35209
129 East Park Circle
Birmingham, AL 35235