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Disabled man in wheelchair, Tampa Disability Attorneys

Tampa Social Security Disability Attorney Mike Murburg: He Will Fight For You

Mike Murburg, P.A. is dedicated to the representation of our clients. It is the mission of this firm to zealously and responsibly represent the injured and disabled in a caring and professional manner, to pursue their rights and to obtain the fullest amount of compensation that the law will allow.

All our case consultations are free. No fees or costs are ever due up front to retain us in personal injury, wrongful death or disability matters.

The team at the Law Offices of Mike Murburg, P.A. includes several experienced and well-qualified members. Tampa Social Security disability attorney Mike Murburg is available to assist you in legal matters even up to the level of the United States Supreme Court. He provides legal representation for Social Security disability, long-term disability, and railroad retirement disability.

In addition, our experienced legal assistants are readily able to fulfill the duties of the support staff, assisting in the filing of applications and other filings pertaining to your case.  At Mike Murburg, P.A. we earn our reputation one case at a time.

Understanding the Social Security Disability Application Process

In general, when someone wants to make an SSDI or SSI claim, he or she can go to the local Social Security Office in their particular area to submit an application. However, the majority of claims are filed either over the internet at SSA.gov or by appointment over the phone at 1-800-772-1213. When you apply, you will need to have your Social Security number available, as well as the names, addresses and phone numbers of all treating physicians and those doctors who know about your condition.  Making a list of all prior employers, as well as a description of your jobs over the 15 years prior to filing your claim will be helpful too.

Once you have gathered all this information, if you would like to come in and discuss your claim in greater detail, please feel free to call 813-264-5363 and schedule an appointment with us.  While you are here, we can answer your questions and even set up your over-the-phone intake appointment with the Social Security Administration. Just give us a call. We want to be your Tampa Social Security disability attorney.

Social Security Disability Benefits

For adults, Social Security disability benefits traditionally fall under three categories:  Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI), supplemental security income benefits (SSI), Social Security disabled widow’s benefits (DWBs) and disabled adult child benefits (DAC).

SSDI

Generally speaking, if you are disabled and cannot work and you have earned enough Social Security credits (you must have earned Social Security credits in 10 of the last 20 quarters prior to the onset of your disability), SSDI benefits are payable to you from the Social Security disability benefit insurance that you accrued while you worked (on the books) and paid into the system by way of your weekly or monthly payroll deductions or self-employment taxes.

SSI

If you have not earned enough quarters, and you are indigent, then you may be eligible for SSI benefits if you cannot work.

DWB

If you are a surviving spouse who is over 50, develops a disability within seven years of the spouse’s death and either has not worked or has benefits payable under your own Social Security number that are less than those that would be payable under your deceased spouse’s Social Security number, you are eligible to receive disabled widow/widower’s benefits. However, please note that eligibility for the benefit relies on your inability to work due to a severe underlying physical or mental condition that occurs within seven years of the death of your spouse to whom you were married 10 years or more and who earned enough Social Security credits on his or her own account.

DAC

Disabled adult child benefits are Social Security disability benefits for “adult children” who are disabled and between the ages of 19 and 22 and beyond, as long as they do not recover from their disability or marry.

A Note About Social Security Benefits for Children with Disabilities

If you are or have a disabled child under the age of 18 who has a severe disability and are of limited means and financial resources, benefits may be paid regardless of the parents’ ability to work.  A child may be eligible for benefits until the age of 18 if that child has a mental or physical condition that is so severe that it results in severe or marked functional limitations.  Just like adult SSDI, SSI and adult child SSI, the condition must either last or be expected to last 12 months or more or is likely to result in death.  The child also cannot be gainfully employed at any SGA levels discussed below.

Unlike proof in an adult or adult child case, the SSA must consider only certain domains of function or “Functional Equivalence” that involve the non-adult child’s ability to:

  • Acquire and use information
  • Attend and complete tasks
  • Interact and relate to others
  • Move about and manipulate objects
  • Care for themselves

In addition to the above, the SSA must look at the overall health and wellbeing of the child. One “extreme” limitation or two “marked” limitations so diagnosed by a treating physician in the domains referenced above will entitle the child to benefits when all other financial entitlement restrictions have been met.

If you have any question as to whether or not your child meets the Functional Equivalence, Mike Murburg and his team have a “Childhood Disability Evaluation Form” in the RFC/form section of this website that you may download and take to your child’s physician to complete.  If you do so, we will be happy to discuss your or your child’s potential SSI case.

Denied? A Tampa Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help You File an Appeal

If you are denied benefits at the initial stage of your application (as the majority of applicants are), you will need to appeal your claim within 60 days of the denial. If you do not timely file your appeal, which is known as a “Request for Reconsideration,” you will have to refile again and ultimately proceed to the back of the line.  As a Tampa Social Security disability attorney, Mike Murburg is often asked about what needs to be said when filing an appeal. However, there is no need for confusion or anxiety. As long as what you say is truthful, you can simply state, “I am still unable to work fulltime at any Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) due to the reasons set forth in my original application.”  It can be that simple.

Once you have been turned down and are at the appeal stage of the process, it is probably a good idea to hire an experienced Social Security disability attorney like Mike Murburg to help you with your claim. Why? To be sure, things will get more difficult as you progress through the process and the earlier you retain counsel, the more time he or she will have to obtain all the necessary medical records and opinions to successfully handle your file.

If you timely file your Request for Reconsideration and you get turned down again, the next level in the appeal process is to make what is called a “Request for a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge.” Again, filing this request must be done within 60 days of you receiving the denial of reconsideration. Tampa Social Security disability attorney Mike Murburg strongly encourages individual to file the request for an ALJ hearing immediately upon receipt of the denial.  The reasons for this are many, the least of which is that the Social Security Administration (SSA) dates its denials and can mail them weeks later, thereby prejudicing your rights to appeal. That said, it is important to always save the envelopes in which your denials arrive. Doing so could mean the difference between moving your claim forward or returning to the back of the line.

Eligibility for SSD Benefits: How the SSA Defines “Disability” and Evaluates Your Case

Many people have disabilities, but not all disabilities are entitled to benefits. Over the past 30 years as a Tampa Social Security disability attorney, Mike Murburg has learned and told his clients that “disability” in the Social Security arena is not necessarily a “medical” determination but rather a “vocational” and “administrative” one.

When the Administration evaluates a case, they use what is called their “Five Step Process.” As a side note, this process is the same process used in Railroad Retirement benefit cases as well.

In Step 1, the SSA asks whether or not the applicant is working.  If the answer is “yes,” then the SSA determines whether or not the individual is making too much money to be considered disabled.  If the answer is “no” or the individual’s earnings are beneath the amount of earnings considered to be an “SGA” or a “Substantial Gainful Activity,” then the Administration proceeds to Step 2.

At Step 2, the SSA determines whether or not your medical condition is “severe.”  This means the Administration will look at whether or not your condition prevents you from performing the basic functions of work for at least a year. This usually requires medical records and some input from your treating physician that the disabling condition has lasted or will last for at least 12 months.  If it does, then the Administration moves to Step 3.

At Step 3, the SSA determines whether your disabling conditions meets certain criteria or the “Listing” within the SSA’s own medical guidelines known as the “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security.” The almost 300-page medical guide is provided for Social Security physicians and medical evaluators to use to determine whether an individual meets a medical listing for disability. Tampa Social Security disability attorney Mike Murburg’s experience over the years has revealed that some determinations are easy to make, like in the case of a person missing two arms or legs or a combination of the two or someone with restricted mental abilities and an IQ of 50 or below.  However, things can get quite complicated in some instances.  If the individual’s condition does not meet the very strict medical guidelines for the severity of the medical condition, then the individual and his or her case becomes a “Vocational Case” and gets evaluated at Steps 4 and 5.

At Step 4, the SSA will determine whether the claimant can perform any “Prior Relevant Work” or “PRW.”  PRW is work that a claimant has done on a full-time basis prior to being unable to work.  If the SSA finds that the claimant can return to any past relevant work, not as it was actually performed at the time, but as it is performed nationally as described in the “Dictionary of Occupational Titles,” then the claimant loses the claim.  If the individual cannot return to any PRW, then the SSA and eventually an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will take the case evaluation to Step 5.

At Step 5, the burden is shifted to the Social Security Administration to determine based upon the claimant’s age, education, physical and mental condition, past relevant work (PRW), special training, skills and transferable job skills, whether there are there are any jobs that he or she can do that exist in sufficient numbers in the national economy (not your local area).

This determination is made by a “Vocational Expert” (VE) who works for the SSA and will testify at the hearing, should one become necessary. Both the ALJ and the VE will utilize the “Dictionary of Occupational Titles” (DOT) and “The Grids,” which are guidelines that are based on a very complicated formula that depends on a claimant’s age and sedentary, light, and medium “exertional levels” to see, based on both the physician’s restrictions and the SSA physicians of record, where the claimant fits in order to make their determination. If the SSA determines that the claimant can perform fulltime, gainful employment in some capacity (it can be something as simple as a ticket taker or ticket seller at a movie theatre, gate guard, gate checker or surveillance system monitor), then the claimant will be found to be “not disabled” under Social Security Guidelines.

Let a Tampa Social Security Disability Attorney Help You

As you can see, the practice of Social Security disability law is a very specialized one. That said, it is critical that any attorney you hire be completely knowledgeable of the Disability Evaluation Under Social Security guidelines, the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) and the Grids in order to properly obtain necessary opinions from physicians, develop your testimony and cross examine the Vocational Expert. Your attorney must be prepared to phrase proper hypotheticals to the VE and the ALJ so that all critical aspects of the case can be properly considered. As a Tampa Social Security disability attorney, Mike Murburg does this exclusively for a living and he is well aware of these criteria and the Vocational Experts and ALJs that use them. For instance, if you lose at Step 5, you have the right to further appeal any errors that you think the ALJ made in deciding your case.

For a list of our frequently asked questions about SSI and SSDI, please click here.

Tampa – Main Office

15501 North Florida Avenue

Tampa, FL 33613-1245

Tel: (813) 264-5363

Fax: (813) 961-6011