Thousands of workers across Wausau must turn to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in the wake of a disabling accident or illness. Unfortunately, as many of these claimants can attest, the SSDI process can be incredibly complex, slow-moving, and difficult to navigate. Who do you turn to in the event you may need to seek SSDI?
This is where Nicolet Law Office, S.C. comes in.
Nicolet Law Office is known as a premier resource for Wausau residents facing financial distress following a disabling injury or illness. With 15 team members in nine locations throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota, we combine the resources and convenience of a large regional firm with the personalized service that you expect from local attorneys.
We know how to penetrate the complicated SSDI system to obtain our clients the relief they need; moreover, we know that each client is different and deserves a custom-tailored case plan. We know that if you’re injured or facing financial difficulty, you should only have to think about getting better and being there for your family—we take on the legal burden for you so that you can do exactly that.
Our Case Results
The dedicated Wausau Social Security Disability associates at Nicolet Law Office, S.C. boast decades of combined experience representing clients who have suffered disabling injury or illness. We’ve recovered over $34 million in compensation for our clients, and look forward to the chance to see how we can help you and your loved ones.
Some of our past clients include:
- A man struggling with severe psychological disabilities for years, no longer able to hold a job and denied benefits at the initial and reconsideration levels. We helped him wrap up this long ordeal and he was fully approved for disability benefits.
- A search and rescue worker in the Northwoods that contracted a form of vertigo, and became wheelchair-bound, was denied benefits multiple times. After intensive consultation and investigation with his physician, we secured the benefits that he needed to address his health issues and lead a fulfilling life.
- A woman with both cancer and a gene mutation that didn’t allow her to receive traditional cancer treatments/medications. Despite being denied benefits, after working with her oncology team and geneticist, we used an innovative approach to get a judge to review our submissions and approve her benefits without a hearing.
While no attorney can guarantee the results in any particular case, rest assured that the passionate Social Security Disability lawyers at Nicolet Law Office, S.C. draw on our deep well of experience to pursue the best possible outcome in every Wausau client’s claim. For more examples of our past success, consider some of our other past case results.
What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Around 254,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 64 in Wisconsin live with a disability that limits their ability to work. Some of these individuals acquired their disability partway through their career, and cannot perform the job tasks they did before the onset of the disability, but can’t perform any other type of work either. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a form of federal insurance that helps these workers provide for themselves and their families.
Most workers in the U.S. pay Social Security taxes through automatically withheld paycheck deductions. The program provides monthly payments for disabled adults. To understand whether you’re eligible for SSDI benefits, you must first understand how the Social Security Administration defines disability.
According to the administration, a disabling condition:
- Prevents you from performing the tasks required for your job.
- Prevents you from performing any job-related task.
- Has lasted or is expected to last a year or result in death.
For purposes of evaluating your claim, the administration will be looking to see if you can perform basic work tasks such as lifting, sitting, standing, walking, or remembering. Unlike other types of disability assistance, SSDI does not provide payments for partial disability.
The Social Security Administration has compiled a list of disabling conditions that can make a person eligible to receive benefits. Obviously, not every disabling condition is listed. If your condition is not listed, the administration will compare the seriousness of it to other conditions on the list. If your unlisted condition is at least as disabling as any of the listed ones, it will be considered eligible.
The Work Requirement
Having a disabling condition is not the only requirement to receive SSDI benefits. Unless your SSDI eligibility comes from someone else’s work credits, as described above, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify. For each year that a U.S. worker paying into the Social Security system works enough to earn an established minimum level of income, he or she is awarded a work credit. You can receive up to 4 credits a year, one for each quarter.
Generally, individuals who are applying for SSDI benefits must have 40 work credits (approximately 10 years of work), with 20 of those credits being received in the last ten years. However, an estimated 1 in 4 young workers will become disabled during his or her working years. Younger workers don’t need as many work credits to receive SSDI benefits.
Applying for SSDI Benefits in Wausau
If you are planning to apply for SSDI benefits in Wausau, here are the steps in the process:
- Review and gather the information you need to make the application. Some of the information you will be required to provide includes the names, birthdates, and Social Security numbers for yourself, your spouse, and children who are either disabled adults with a disabling condition that occurred before the age of 22, 18, or 19 and attending college full time, or under the age of 18. You will also be required to provide your past work history, particularly information about your most recent or current employer; a list of the disabling medical conditions you suffer from, and a list of the health care providers who are treating your condition.
- Complete and submit your application with supporting documents. You can either file your application online or make an appointment to complete the application at the local Social Security Administration office. If the administration needs any additional information from you, they will contact you.
- Once you have applied, the administration will conduct an initial review to ensure that you meet basic eligibility requirements. After that, the application will go to the office that conducts Disability Determination Services in Wisconsin.
- The state office will then perform a more thorough review that includes contacting your employers and obtaining information from your doctor. The information that is needed includes medical treatment records, the results of diagnostic or laboratory tests, and the doctor’s opinion about your condition. The medical evidence of your disability is among the most important information you need. Because of this, you must meet with your physician and discuss your plan to apply for SSDI benefits so that he or she will expect a request for your medical information.
- Once the state Social Security Administration personnel have decided on your claim, they will notify you in writing.
If Your Application Was Approved
If your application is approved, you will receive a letter that provides you with the approved amount of your disability payments, informs you as to whether back pay will be included, and will provide a date on which payments begin. Payments cannot begin until six months after the start of your disability. So, for example, if you suffered a disabling condition expected to last more than a year in January and immediately applied for SSDI benefits, the earliest you will begin receiving payments is July.
The Social Security Administration will conduct reviews every three years to ensure that you remain eligible for the benefits. While most people do not lose their benefits if they begin to show medical improvement, they will lose benefits if their income or assets have increased to the point where they are no longer eligible for the assistance. Other ways that you can lose your benefits after receiving them include if you die, retire, or you were receiving benefits as the child of an eligible person and you have reached the age of 18, or you were receiving benefits as a disabled adult child and you got married.
If Your Application Was Denied
If your application is denied, you will also be notified by letter. You can appeal the decision by requesting an appeal within 60 days of receiving your decision letter.
The four levels of appeals for SSDI decisions include:
- Reconsideration: This appeal involves requesting that someone from the administration who was not involved in the original decision provide a fresh review of the application and evidence, as well as any new evidence that can help prove the elements of the claim.
- A hearing by an administrative law judge. As with the Reconsideration process, the judge involved in the hearing must not have been involved in the initial decision. Administrative law hearings are generally held within 75 miles of your home. You also have the option of having your hearing held online, and if you don’t opt out of this option, an online hearing may take place.
- A review by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council receives all requests for review, but does not consent to honor all of these requests. If the council finds that the decision is supported by the evidence and in line with the laws and regulations put forth by the administration, the request will likely be denied.
- A federal court review. A civil claim in the local federal district court is the final layer of the review process. To request a review in civil court, you must have either received an unsatisfactory decision by the Appeals Council or the Appeals Council declined to review your case. The claim in federal court must be filed within 60 days after receiving your decision letter from the Appeals Council.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wausau SSDI Benefits
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are extremely important for those whose disabilities prevent them from earning an income. Unfortunately, despite the importance of this program, the process of applying is often daunting and full of questions. Here are some of the questions our Wausau clients most frequently ask about applying for SSDI benefits in Wisconsin.
I have not earned enough work credits to receive benefits. Can I use my spouse’s credits?
Yes, in a few circumstances a disabled individual may qualify for SSDI benefits due to their own disabling condition as well as the work credits that a spouse or parent earned.
These circumstances include:
- If you are a disabled adult whose mother or father has earned enough work credits to be eligible for benefits, an application can be filed on your behalf when your eligible parent receives disability or retirement benefits.
- If you are the widowed spouse between the ages of 50 and 60 of an SSDI recipient and your eligibility began within 7 years of the recipient’s death.
My application got denied for suspected fraud. What should I do?
The Social Security Administration will deny applications for SSDI benefits if they have reason to believe that the benefits were being accessed for fraudulent purposes.
Some issues that could raise fraud suspicions during the evaluation of your application include:
- You used the wrong name or Social Security number when applying for benefits.
- You misrepresented your disabling condition.
- You did not report all of your income.
If this occurs, meet with a Wausau Social Security Disability lawyer as soon as possible.
Will my Wausau SSDI benefits go away after I reach retirement age?
Once you reach the age of 65, your benefits will not go away, but will convert from disability benefits to retirement benefits.
How could my Wausau SSDI claim end up in a federal court review?
A federal court review of your application, the evidence used to support your case, and the administration’s decision is the final layer of the four-level appeals process. This review occurs after your case has been reviewed—or the opportunity to review was declined—by the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council. The review is the result of a civil action filed in the regional judicial district that is filed within 60 days after you have received notification of the Appeals Council’s decision.
Are my SSDI benefits taxable in Wausau?
In certain circumstances in which your income is over a certain level, your SSDI benefits can be subject to tax. However, because the regulations for receiving SSDI benefits restrict the income you can earn while remaining eligible for benefits, most individuals will not earn enough to have to worry about paying income tax on their benefits.
What can your Wausau Social Security Disability lawyers do to help me with my application or appeal?
The process of applying for federal disability benefits is complicated, and the chance of having your claim denied is high. In fact, studies indicate that fewer than half of all applicants receive any benefits and as many as three-quarters of applicants are denied during the initial review levels.
Our experienced Wausau Social Security Disability lawyers can increase your chance of obtaining the benefits that you worked years to earn.
Some of our services include:
- Guidance as to the type of documentation you will need to complete your application and to prove your claim.
- A review of your application before submission to ensure that there are no inconsistencies or missing information that could result in denial of your claim.
- Assistance with appealing an administrative decision at any of the four levels of appeal, including attending hearings on your behalf.
- Guidance as to how the benefits you receive from other assistance programs will potentially impact your ability to obtain SSDI benefits as well as how your SSDI payments will affect your ability to receive other types of assistance.
- Client-friendly offerings including a free case evaluation and a contingent-fee payment scheme to provide the ability for anyone who needs legal assistance when applying for disability benefits to access that assistance without an upfront investment.
Let the experienced Wausau personal injury lawyers at Nicolet Law Office help you to make sense of the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. For a free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (715) 716-5092.
408 3rd Street
Wausau, WI 54403