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Denied Benefits/Appeals Minnesota

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Lawyers For Denied Social Security Benefits In Minnesota

You are not alone if your claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits has been denied. Now is not the time to give up nor the time to be discouraged. It is the time to seek the advice and representation of an attorney with considerable SSD claims experience in Minnesota to give yourself the best chance of success in the appeal process.

At Nicolet Law Firm, we provide compassionate counsel and thorough representation to people who have had their Social Security Disability claims denied. The first step is joining at our offices in Woodbury, Minneapolis, Duluth or Hibbing to get to the bottom of the following questions:

  • Was there information missing from your initial application?
  • Did a misunderstanding of legal terms result in errors?
  • Is your disability currently listed as a qualifying disability on the most current schedule?
  • Did you miss a filing deadline or file too early?
  • What further information could bolster your disability claim?
  • Do you need additional documentation of your disabling condition?
  • Did you provide requisite evidence of your inability to work?

Appeal Process Overview

The Social Security Disability appeals process can be complex but is not impossible to overcome with the help of an experienced lawyer. We begin by gathering your medical records and other case evidence in order to build a strong case for your appeal. Next, we request a reconsideration hearing, where an administrative law judge (ALJ) will preside and issue a decision. If your claim is denied by the ALJ, it will be necessary to file an appeal with the Social Security appeals council and, if denied there, all the way to federal court.

The primary benefit of working with an attorney for your SSD claim appeal is the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a knowledgeable, experienced advocate looking out for you. Your benefits are too important to leave up to chance or risk being denied due to the errors that come with inexperience.

Frequently Asked Questions About Minnesota Social Security Disability

Applying for and receiving Social Security Disability benefits in Minnesota, whether you need to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), is a long and complicated process. The experienced Minnesota Social Security Disability lawyers from Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers are pleased to answer some questions our clients most frequently ask about the subject. If you have questions about your specific case, contact us for a free case evaluation.

What is the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSDI and SSI are the two programs administered by the Social Security Administration that provide benefits to Minnesotans with disabilities who can't earn sufficient income by working.

The SSDI program pays benefits to a worker or certain family members if they worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes on their earnings to qualify for the program. The SSI program benefits adults and children with disabilities who do not qualify for SSDI because they do not have a sufficient work record or any other sufficient source of income.

How do I determine if I am eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits?

The Social Security Administration considers an adult disabled if:

  • They are unable to work the job they held before the onset of the disability.
  • Their disability also prevents them from taking on other work duties.
  • The disability is expected to last or has lasted a year or result in death.
  • They have not earned more than the substantial gainful activity limit for any month during their disability.

Disabled children under the age of 18 can also qualify for SSI benefits, provided that:

  • The condition will last at least a year or result in death.
  • The condition causes severe functional limitations.

One of the services an experienced Minnesota Social Security Disability lawyer can provide is determining whether you qualify for benefits.

Is there an earnings requirement for obtaining SSDI or SSI in Minnesota?

Yes. The SSDI bases benefit decisions not only on your ability to prove your disability but that you or a qualifying member of your household (such as your spouse) worked enough years and recently enough to earn the benefits by paying into the Social Security system.

To receive SSI, you do not need to have worked, but you must prove that you are:

  • Blind, disabled, or at least 65 years old.
  • Earn limited income. In Minnesota, the income limit depends on whether you live on your own, with family, or in an assisted living facility.
  • Have limited assets. In Minnesota, this means that you own less than $2,000 worth of money and property.

Several exceptions and additional rules govern SSI eligibility. Speak to an attorney about your specific circumstances.

How can an attorney help me apply for SSDI or SSI benefits in Minnesota?

The application process for obtaining SSDI or SSI benefits is difficult, and individuals who apply without an attorney’s help are often unsuccessful in obtaining benefits upon the first review. While the Minnesota Disability Determination Services office always provides a reason for denying benefits, it is often unclear, and the applicant leaves wondering what to do next.

An experienced Minnesota Social Security Disability lawyer from Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers not only knows exactly what evidence a successful application needs, but we know what to do next if the SSA denies that claim. We are prepared to provide guidance and services through the appeals process to provide the documentation and other evidence necessary to defend our clients’ claims.

Once an individual begins receiving their SSDI or SSI benefits, their case is subject to periodic reviews. These reviews can occur at differing intervals depending on the severity of the condition or the likelihood of improvement, with some claims reviewed every six months while other claims are only reviewed once every several years. An experienced Minnesota Social Security lawyer can also assist individuals after the termination of benefits.

How do I seek benefits for my adult disabled child?

If you are a worker who has paid Social Security taxes for a sufficient amount of time to qualify for SSDI benefits, and your child was disabled before the age of 22, they can obtain benefits based on your work record.

To obtain adult disabled child benefits:

  • Your child must be 18 years or older when applying.
  • They must be unmarried.
  • They must meet the administration’s definition of disability.
  • They must not earn a substantial income.

An adult disabled child may alternatively receive SSI benefits. Speak with an attorney about your specific circumstances to learn more.

Can I seek SSDI or SSI benefits for both mental and physical conditions?

Yes, SSDI and SSI benefits are available for both mental and physical conditions. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than two million people receive Social Security Disability benefits for mental health conditions, equaling about 20 percent of all benefits.

What criteria does the Social Security Administration consider when making decisions on benefits applications?

The Social Security Administration’s regulations require an administrative law judge to review all SSDI and SSI applications to ensure:

  • Whether the claimant can work at all. If the claimant can do some work and their earnings average more than $500 a month, the SSA does not consider them disabled.
  • Whether the applicant has a combination of physical and mental impairments that impair their ability to work.
  • Whether the applicant’s condition is found on the administration’s list of impairments that are so severe that they automatically qualify the applicant as disabled.
  • If the judge finds that the disabling condition is not of equal severity as a disabling condition on the list, they will then determine if the condition is disabling enough to prevent them from performing the work tasks that they have been able to perform over the past 15 years.
  • If the judge finds that the condition is preventing the applicant from doing the work that they performed over the past 15 years, the judge then considers whether the applicant is of an age and education level or has past work experience or transferable skills that will enable them to perform a different type of work.

Is it possible for the SSA to terminate my benefits after I begin receiving them?

Yes. Despite being considered a “lifetime benefit,” the SSA can terminate SSDI or SSI payments for several reasons, including:

  • The beneficiary went back to work or school full-time, which is considered substantial gainful activity.
  • The beneficiary’s condition has improved to such an extent that they can now perform substantial gainful activity.
  • The beneficiary is in jail or institutionalized against their will for more than 30 days.

Having SSDI or SSI payments terminated is a frightening experience, as they are usually the beneficiary’s primary source of income. If you are notified that your benefits are being terminated, contact an experienced Minnesota Social Security benefits attorney to assist you as soon as possible, as you only have 60 days to appeal.

What happens when you appeal a Minnesota Social Security Disability denial?

Unfortunately, many applicants seeking SSDI or SSI benefits who have applied without the assistance of an attorney are denied during the initial review of their claim. Applicants then have just 60 days to file a Request for Reconsideration.

The Request for Reconsideration is the first level of appealing a Social Security Disability denial. When an applicant requests the reconsideration, their application goes back to Minnesota’s Disability Determination Services office for review by a physician and a disability examiner, who will not only take a second look at the evidence you submitted with your first application but also consider any new evidence you submit that further proves your claim. Once this review has taken place, the applicant is again informed of the decision.

If the application is again denied during the reconsideration process, the applicant can then file a Request for Hearing by the Office of Hearings and Appeals. This hearing must be requested within 60 days of when the applicant receives notification that their application was denied following the reconsideration.

An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who is not necessarily a judge in the legal sense of the word but an official who is appointed to judge the merits of your claim, will hear the case. The somewhat informal hearings provide an applicant and their attorney the opportunity to explain why they disagree with the decision Minnesota’s Disability Determination Services office made on the application. Because the ALJ is independent of the Disability Determination Services office, many individuals find that the fresh look afforded through the hearing is what it takes to have their claim approved.

If I apply for today, how long will it take to begin receiving SSDI or SSI benefits?

Most people can complete the initial application and receive a decision within three to five months. However, the amount of time varies, depending on how long it takes you to obtain copies of your medical records and other evidence you need to prove your eligibility for benefits.

If the SSA denies you in the initial review process, it usually takes several more months to go through the appeals process. Applicants who apply with the guidance of an attorney have a greater likelihood of having their application approved during the initial review. Quicker approval of your claim means you begin obtaining the benefits you need sooner.

Will I have to pay taxes on my SSDI or SSI benefits?

Social Security benefits are, in theory, subject to tax. However, most individuals do not make enough income from benefits to create a tax burden. Typically, if an individual makes between $2,000 and $3,000 a month, the federal government will begin taxing half of their SSDI benefits.

Some applicants receive SSDI or SSI back pay for when they were disabled but not yet receiving benefits. This back pay often comes in a lump sum, which can increase the applicant’s income for the year when the lump sum payment comes. Individuals may avoid tax on these lump-sum payments by allocating benefits owed from a prior year to an amended prior-year tax return. As far as state taxes are concerned, Minnesota taxes SSDI and SSI payments using the federal government’s taxation rate.

I can’t afford an attorney. Can I just apply for Minnesota SSDI or SSI on my own?

The legal team at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers understands that if you had the money to hire an attorney, you likely would also have enough money that you don’t need SSDI or SSI benefits.

However, the reality is that you do need these benefits, and an attorney has the experience and knowledge to assist you in making a claim that holds up through the review process. Many applicants attempt to obtain benefits on their own, only to realize after months have passed that they’re in over their heads before hiring an attorney.

Because it’s so beneficial to have an attorney working with you on your application, we are happy to provide information to you at a free case evaluation. If you decide to continue working with us, we will offer you a contingent fee agreement. This means that you will not be responsible for paying for our assistance until you obtain a successful outcome to your application.

Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers aren’t the only ones looking out for your best interests when it comes to attorney’s fees. The Social Security Administration sets a cap on the amount of fees attorneys can charge applicants at 25 percent or up to $6,000 and applicants can pay these fees through any back pay they receive. Under some circumstances, an attorney can request additional fees, and if there is significant proof of a legal justification for doing so, they can receive these additional fees. However, the Social Security Administration must approve the request.

Contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers Today

Russell Nicolet
Russell Nicolet, Denied Benefits/Appeals Minnesota

Don’t risk your SSDI or SSI benefits by attempting to navigate the process on your own. We can help. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (651) 358-2531.

Don’t Give Up

We are here to help you get the full disability benefits you deserve. Contact us online or call 1-855-NICOLET today to schedule your free case evaluation. You will not pay any attorney’s fees unless we are able to recover disability benefits for you.

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724 Bielenberg Drive
Suite 126
Woodbury, MN 55125
Phone:  651-358-2531

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