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Residents of Eau Claire have never shied away from a hard day’s work. From its founding as a timber town to the present, the city’s citizens have earned their livelihoods and supported their families with grit and determination, in good times and bad.
Still, work can take a toll. When Eau Claire dwellers suffer injuries or deficits that leave them disabled and unable to work, they often need a helping hand to make ends meet. The social safety nets of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which we all help to pay for with our tax dollars, exist to offer that support.
Obtaining the SSDI and SSI benefits you rightfully need and deserve should not pose overwhelming challenges, but often, it does. That is why Nicolet Law Firm is here to help. Our experienced disability rights attorneys assist Eau Claire residents in applying for Social Security Disability benefits, and we represent them in appeals of partial or total denials of benefits.
If you have a disabling condition and have not yet applied for assistance through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or you applied and were denied, an experienced Eau Claire Social Security Disability lawyer can help you understand your options.
Contact us online or by phone at our Eau Claire office, (715) 835-5959, for a free consultation to learn about your rights to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
The skilled, compassionate Social Security Disability lawyers at Nicolet Law take particular pride in the results they have achieved for SSDI and SSI applicants, including:
These past results do not guarantee our future success, of course. They do, however, give clients of Nicolet Law peace of mind in knowing that their attorneys understand the Social Security Disability application and appeals processes well-enough to achieve favorable outcomes in even the most complicated cases.
SSDI, a federal program administered by the Social Security Administration, pays benefits to people who have worked, but can no longer do so because of a disabling condition. In Wisconsin, more than 172,000 people receive SSDI.
An individual earns the right, through working and paying into the system through taxes taken from each paycheck, to obtain monthly payments if he or she has acquired a disabling condition that:
The SSDI payments are determined by your age and income at the onset of your disabling condition, how many years you have worked, and how much time before you reach retirement age. Your adult disabled children or your spouse can use the work credits you have earned in some places to receive your SSDI benefits in some cases, and if you were to die while receiving these payments, your family members can be permitted to continue receiving your payments, depending on the circumstances.
In addition to the monthly payments, SSDI recipients can obtain Medicare coverage after two years in the program and are also automatically eligible to receive assistance with purchasing food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
To receive disability payments, you will need to prove that you have worked long enough and recently enough to have earned the benefits and you will also need to prove that your medical condition meets the administration’s definition of disability. Here is a look at the criteria for each of these factors.
Work credits you’ve earned throughout your career and the number of credits you earned recently determine SSDI eligibility. An individual earns up to four work credits a year—one for each quarter—in which they have earned more than the minimum income level each month through “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). As a general rule, to obtain SSDI benefits, you must have around 40 work credits, with at least 20 of those credits occurring in the past 10 years.
Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration estimates that around one in four individuals who are just beginning their careers now will suffer a disabling condition before reaching retirement age. Because young workers sometimes can and do acquire disabilities, the credits that are required to obtain disability benefits are reduced in those circumstances.
The Social Security Administration defines disability as a condition that prevents you from doing the work you did previously or any other type of work, has lasted or is expected to last at least a year or is expected to result in death. The ability to do any type of work depends on the ability to do basic work tasks such as standing, sitting, walking, lifting, or remembering instructions or events.
The administration maintains a list of disabling conditions. If an applicant’s specific condition does not appear on the list, the program administrators will compare it with listed conditions to see if it is equally disabling as those conditions.
If you are applying for SSDI benefits in Eau Claire, you can do so online or by scheduling an appointment to complete the application at the Social Security office.
To apply, you will follow these steps.
If you are approved for SSDI, you will be mailed a letter informing you of this decision, along with the amount that your monthly payment will be, if you will receive back pay and in what amount, and when your payments will begin. Payments are generally made by direct deposit to your bank, though you also have the option to be issued a debit card with payments being loaded monthly onto that card.
Approximately every three years, the administration will review your case to ensure that you are still eligible to receive the benefits.
The majority of SSDI applicants are denied benefits at the initial review level, based on a lack of medical or other evidence. If your SSDI application is denied, you will be notified through a letter.
You will have 60 days to request an appeal through one of the administration’s four appellate levels, including:
Applying for SSDI benefits is a massive, time-consuming process that leaves many individuals feeling frustrated and confused. To help alleviate that confusion, we are providing the answers to some of the questions our Eau Claire clients ask most often about obtaining SSDI benefits.
No. Because the federal agency that administers the benefits is accountable for preventing individuals from fraudulently receiving benefits they are not entitled to, the process for being approved to receive the benefits is quite complex and involved. The majority of applicants are denied at the initial review level. However, as discouraging as this is, there are four levels of appeals to be exhausted before the fight for your benefits is over and an experienced disability lawyer can lend experience and understanding of the administration’s expectations to improve your chances of approval.
While anyone’s eligibility to receive SSDI is subject to the decision of the administration, as a general rule, blindness is often a qualifying condition for benefits. The administration considers an individual as blind or with low vision if their vision can’t be corrected to better than 20/200. Even without that provision, if your vision difficulties—when considered alone or with other problems—can result in SSDI eligibility.
SSDI payments generally aren’t provided for months in which the recipient is incarcerated and you aren’t automatically eligible to begin receiving these payments again once you are released. If you are in jail for more than 30 continuous days, it will impact your benefits. To begin receiving the benefits again, you must make an official request. It should be noted that your spouse or other family members who are receiving benefits will continue receiving those benefits while you are in jail, provided they maintain their eligibility.
Individuals who have received their SSDI benefits for at least two years are eligible for Medicare. The administration will inform you when your medical coverage eligibility begins.
Yes. The Social Security Administration will review your case approximately every three years to ensure that you are still eligible to receive benefits. While medical improvement will rarely result in the decision to stop your benefits, an increase in income from substantial gainful activity (SGA) certainly will.
Substantial gainful activity means that you can work enough to earn more than the maximum income level to maintain eligibility. It should be noted that you don’t necessarily have to be paid for the work for it to be considered SGA, however. If you are extensively volunteering to help family members or others, that could also be determined to be SGA.
You can also lose your SSDI benefits by:
No. While the Social Security Administration provides instructions and allows the submission of applications either online or in person without an attorney, it denies so many applications because applicants fail to realize the depth of the evidence they need to obtain an approval. Our experienced Eau Claire Social Security disability lawyers can help you receive the benefits that you worked so many years for.
We can provide:
Eau Claire Office
402 Graham Ave.
Eau Claire, WI 54701