Teaching isn’t just one of the most important jobs in society, it’s also a lot of hard work. Whether it’s preschool, pre-calculus or pre-med, teachers help shape young peoples’ lives and mold them into productive members of their communities. That means managing a class (or multiple classes) full of students, keeping their attention and making every effort to ensure that they actually learn a thing or two. The work doesn’t stop when the bell rings; there are papers and homework assignments to grade and lesson plans to craft, not to mention an endless array of meetings and training sessions to attend.
The work can be even more difficult for teachers who suffer from a variety of physical or mental impairments that may limit their ability to effectively teach. The good news is that a teacher who’s unable to work for a year or more as a result of such an impairment – or a combination of impairments – may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. You’ve likely paid into the system through taxes. You consequently have the right to seek benefits if you can’t work.
In addition to benefits from Social Security Disability most public school teachers are covered under their State Teachers Retirement System and may be eligible for a disability pension from that system as well. in many cases obtaining the State Disability pension involves showing a permanent inability to perform the duties as a teacher, a different standard that what is needed for Social Security Disability and it is possible that a claimant can be approved for one benefit but not the other.
The experienced attorneys at Hermann Law Group can explain the complex relationships between these and other sources of benefits available to teachers and to any class of employee.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency that oversees the Social Security Disability and Retirement programs, working largely from local and regional offices scattered across the country. In order to get Disability benefits, you have to file a claim with the SSA. The claim form and accompanying documents must clearly explain that you’re entitled to benefits by establishing that you have a physical or mental impairment (or combination of impairments) that has left you unable to teach for at least a year. That could be any impairment that limits your ability to effectively communicate, explain and work through subject matter or handle the physical rigors of life in a classroom. The SSA will also consider whether you can do other, non-teaching jobs available in the national economy based on your background and experience.
An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can provide vital assistance by gathering the necessary medical records and other evidence and filing the claim on your behalf. The lawyer can also follow up with the agency to ensure that it has the information it needs to make a decision on the claim and represent you in the appeals process, if necessary.
Unfortunately, the SSA initially denies the majority of claims it reviews each year. That includes many claims that have merit and have been filed by persons who are clearly entitled to benefits. If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal, a process that typically involves a hearing before an SSA Administrative Law Judge.
An initial denial can be disheartening, but workers who have strong claims should not give up. In our experience, the ALJ hearing is a claimant’s best opportunity to prove his or her claim. A competent attorney is also essential at this stage of the process. The lawyer can present evidence and examine witnesses in order to build a clear and convincing case as to why the claim should be approved.
While attorney representation doesn’t guarantee success in a Social Security disability claim, an experienced disability lawyer’s expertise and assistance may very well mean the difference between approval and denial of a claim. If you or a loved one is considering filing a claim for SSD benefits, contact the New York Social Security Disability lawyers at Hermann Law Group, PLLC. We are dedicated to providing high quality, personalized legal services. Please call or contact us to set up an appointment.