Social Security Disability
For many, Social Security
disability benefits provide a financial lifeline for those who can no longer
work to due disability. These benefits include monthly payments and Medical
insurance benefits (including Medicare or Medicaid) that provide compensation
to those who are totally disabled from performing any substantial gainful
activity (SGA) or work of any kind. Benefits can be obtained through two
related programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental
Security Income (SSI). Both programs are administered by the Social Security
Administration and both have the same medical qualifications; however, there
are additional non-medical qualifications that are different for each program.
Social Security Disability
Insurance is available to those who are under 65 years of age and have worked
long and consistently enough to meet a required number of “work credits” or
earned quarters— that is, they have worked a minimum number of years (usually 5
of the last 10 years prior to when they last worked) during which they paid
Social Security income taxes (commonly known as FICA). Essentially, those
who receive SSDI benefits are being paid back the benefits that they “paid into
the system” by working and having their income taxed. On the other hand,
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are available to individuals who
have never worked or have not worked long or consistently enough to earn enough
quarters for SSDI benefits. Those who receive SSI benefits are paid a set
amount out of a fund established by the federal government, regardless of how
long they have worked or paid into the system. Unlike SSDI benefits,
those who apply for SSI cannot qualify for benefits if their income, assets or
resources (or those of their spouse or other family member that lives with or
helps support them) exceeds a certain maximum amount (the “threshold” amount).
Both programs have identical
medical requirements. A physical or mental impairment (or combination of
impairments) must be severe—that is, it must have more than a minimal impact on
a person’s ability to do work—and it must last or be expected to last 12
consecutive months (1 year) or more. Although it seems straightforward,
SSDI and SSI benefits are getting increasingly more difficult to obtain as many
claimants are denied more than once before receiving benefits. If you
have already applied for benefits and been denied, you have a limited period of
time to appeal- 60 days from the date of the denial letter, plus five (5)
additional days for mailing, so time is always crucial if a denial has been
received, or you may have to start the process over.
disability lawyer who is familiar with Social Security’s rules, regulations,
and procedures can assist you and your family through this complex, and often
frustrating process. Baldwin & Briscoe can assist you whether you are
filing an initial application or appealing a denial. Please call today
for a no-cost consultation; Social Security cases are handled on a contingency
basis so you pay no money out-of-pocket and we do not collect any fees unless
Being injured at work is
stressful enough. The process of filing and pursuing a claim for workers’
compensation benefits is even more stressful, especially if you’re not familiar
with the workers’ compensation laws and what you, as the worker, are entitled
to receive for your injury. Workers’ Compensation is a program of legally
established benefits that injured workers are entitled to receive from their
employer (usually through an insurance carrier selected by the employer) when
they are injured in the course of their employment; unlike most other personal
injury matters, a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is NOT a lawsuit
against the employer and the worker is NOT required to establish fault or
liability in order to collect benefits. As long as they were injured in
the course of employment (with a few limited exceptions) they are entitled to
various monetary and other benefits. Most employers are required to
provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees, and even if they
work for an employer that does not provide such coverage, they are still
entitled to the same benefits. However, there are certain steps and
requirements that the worker must fulfill before they can claim and receive the
benefits and preserve their rights for future benefits, such as providing
notice of the injury to the employer within a specified time frame after the injury
occurs (which is usually explained when the worker is first hired).
There are two types of
workers’ compensation claims in Maryland: Accidental Injuries and
Occupational Diseases. An accidental injury claim is the “garden variety”
type of claim that most people think of when they hear the words “Workers’
Compensation-“ in this type of claim a person is injured at a specific, defined
time and place, within the course of their employment, and they know the moment
that they become injured. These types of claim are generally first
reported to the Employer at or around the time they occur so they can be put on
An Occupational Disease claim, on the
other hand, is a more complicated type of workers’ compensation claim and can
be difficult to establish. In this type of claim, a person has suffered
an injury, illness or condition as a result of a continued and often long-time
exposure to a condition in the workplace that brings about the injury. A
common example of such a claim is someone who develops carpal tunnel syndrome
in their hands and wrists after years of constant typing and using their hands
to complete work tasks.
Regardless of the type of
claim you have, there is a time limit to file a claim form with the Maryland
Workers’ Compensation Commission. For an accidental injury case, an
employee needs to file a claim within two years of the accidental injury, and
for an occupational disease the claim must be filed within two years of the
date of disability (or discovery of disability) or the claim may be forever
barred. This Claim Form still must be filed even if the employer and
their insurance company have voluntarily paid some benefits, or the right to
future benefits could be jeopardized.
There are generally four
types of benefits available to injured workers under the Workers’
benefits: payment of medical bills for treatment related to the work
total disability: payment of “lost wages” for all time missed from work due
to the work injury.
Rehabilitation: assistance finding new work if the employee can’t return to
their job or similar
work due to their work injury.
Disability: monetary compensation for permanent impairment (total or
partial) suffered as a result of the work injury.
The process of applying for
and obtaining workers’ compensation benefits can be confusing and complicated.
The workers’ compensation insurance company will have a trained staff of
adjustors and lawyers working to minimize the payout they will have to
make. You, as the injured worker, are entitled to your rights and
benefits and you should have the best legal representation possible to maximize
the benefits you are entitled to receive.
Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C.
can be there to help. Call today to set up a no-cost consultation.
Workers’ Compensation cases are handled on a contingency basis so you do not
pay anything out of pocket, and no fees are collected unless you obtain money
through an award/judgment or settlement.