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Social Security Disability in Erie, PA - Personal Injury Lawyers 

If you or a family member suffers from an injury or disease that prevents you from working, or is expected to prevent you from working for one year or longer, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration, which administers retirement and disability benefits, defines a "disability" as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity due to an impairment or combination of impairments.

The Social Security system provides benefits for the disabled under two separate but related programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While both programs are concerned with a person's disability, DIB is an insurance benefits program while SSI is a need-based program.

Talk to us, we can help. 

If you have been denied benefits by the Social Security Administration, or are simply considering whether you should apply, please contact one of the attorneys in the Elderkin Law Firm's Social Security group. We understand the system and know the ins and outs. Tell us your case, we want to help navigate you through the process. Call our Erie, PA offices at 814-456-4000, send us an email at, or fill out one of the contact forms

What types of disability benefits are there?

There are two types of benefits: (1) disability insurance benefits ("DIBs"), and (2) supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits. Both require that you be disabled.


DIBs are paid to you based on your actual earning history and the wages that you have lost as a result of your disability. DIB eligibility requires you to have worked 20 out of the last 40 quarters, or five out of the last 10 years, preceding your disability. If you don’t meet that standard, you may qualify for SSI.


SSI has nothing to do with your earning history, but is only paid to those with a low income.  SSI looks at your household income, so if you have a spouse or someone living with you that has a job or significant assets, that may prevent you from getting SSI.


You can file immediately upon disability. It’s in your best interest to file as soon as possible once you know you have a condition that would prevent you from working for more than 12 months. If your claim is denied, you have a right to appeal within 60 days.


Many Social Security claims are initially denied because they are conducted as a review only of your medical records, and the reviewer never gets to meet you face-to-face and to hear your story. If you are denied, you can file for further review of your claim. It takes about a year to get a hearing, but you would then actually have the opportunity to present your case in front of an administrative law judge, and that gives you a legitimate opportunity to see someone face-to-face and explain why you can’t work. You would certainly want to have a lawyer throughout the process of filing an appeal, requesting the hearing and attending the hearing.

What requirements are necessary to be eligible for Social Security Disability?
In order to be eligible for social security disability, you have to be unable to perform substantial, gainful employment for a period of 12 months or more, or have a condition that is expected to kill you within 12 months. Total disability would mean that you are unable to perform the job you have right now or one that you recently had. They’ll look back 15 years at the work you performed and see if you can do any of that. Assuming you can’t do that, then the question is if there’s any other work you can perform. In order to meet the standard, you can’t be fully employed. You have to have a serious problem or problems, and collectively, those problems would prevent you from performing any job you’ve had in the past 15 years and would prevent you from doing any other job available in the national and regional economies.
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