Discover the Best Social Security Disability Lawyers in Panama City:

Let Our Attorneys Unlock the Benefits You Deserve.

Nestled along the scenic Gulf Coast, Panama City’s white sands and gentle ocean breezes complement a tight-knit community atmosphere. The city can be exciting and therapeutic, offering plenty of urban amenities, a vibrant arts and culture scene, and stunning parks and beaches to unwind under the warmth of the Florida sun. While some Panama City residents experience their life’s greatest moments in this picture-perfect backdrop, others experience their worst.

Unexpected challenges - car wrecks, illnesses, workplace accidents - can shake us to our core, leaving us unable to cope physically or emotionally with daily life. In times like these, disabled Panama City residents turn to Social Security for the support they need to maintain their independence, dignity, and standard of living. Social Security disability benefits were designed to support those unable to earn a steady income due to long-term impairment. Sadly, many are unfairly denied these benefits - despite paying into the program for decades.

If you’ve been denied Social Security disability benefits, know that you’re not alone. Our Panama City Social Security disability lawyers have helped thousands of people in a similar situation prove their claim on appeal and obtain the benefits they need to live. Our attorneys understand firsthand how disheartening a denial can be - and are prepared to use their legal expertise to guide you through the complex appeals process. Together, we will fight for the benefits you deserve

What is Social Security Disability? Breaking Down the Basics

Social Security Disability is a federal program that functions to provide financial assistance to individuals unable to work due to a long-term (lasting at least one year) or permanent disability. Millions of Americans rely on this system to maintain a decent standard of living and cover essential expenses such as housing, food, and medical care. In some cases, the family members of disabled individuals may also be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

SSDI vs. SSI: Exploring the Two Key Disability Benefit Programs

There are two main federal programs that provide assistance to those with long-term or permanent disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Despite the differences between these programs, the medical requirements remain the same - in order to receive monthly financial benefits, you must have a medical condition that is expected to last for at least a year or result in death. Secondly, your condition must be severe enough that you’re unable to engage in any form of substantial gainful activity (SGA).

What Is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that provides benefits to disabled individuals who have a substantial work history and have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. SSDI benefits are based on your earnings record - meaning that the more you've earned in your years of work, the higher your benefits will be. Eligibility for SSDI is based on both your work history and the severity of your disability. The number of work credits the SSA requires for qualification can change depending on the age at which your disability occurred.

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program that provides financial assistance to elderly, blind, or disabled individuals with limited income and resources - regardless of their work history. For SSI benefits, the SSA takes a variety of factors into account, mainly an applicant’s income, assets, and living arrangements.

Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability?

The Social Security Administration can be extremely stringent when it comes to benefits eligibility. Applicants must meet the standards given below in full in order to be considered for benefits:

What Types of Compensation Am I Entitled To?

Medical Requirements for SSDI and SSI Eligibility

  • The applicant must have a diagnosed physical or mental impairment or disability that is considered a full, rather than partial disability;
  • The disability must be so severe that it prevents substantial gainful activity (SGA);
  • The applicant must be following the recommended course of treatment for their disability;
  • The disability must be expected to last at least one year or prove fatal.

Work History Requirements for SSDI Eligibility

  • A certain period of time must have passed since the applicant last worked and paid Social Security taxes;
  • The applicant must have accrued a minimum number of work credits based on their age and employment experience. The SSA typically requires 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the 10 years before the start of the disability.

SSI Eligibility Requirements

  • The applicant must meet SSA criteria for resource and salary limitations;
  • The applicant must be 65 or older;
  • The applicant must be totally or partially blind or have a medical condition that prevents them from working and is expected to last at least one year or result in death;
  • The applicant must not be engaging in SGA;
  • The applicant must be following the recommended course of treatment for their disability.

Why Was I Denied? Addressing Issues in Your Social Security Disability Claim.

Knowing the primary reasons for Social Security benefits denial can help you avoid mistakes in your initial application and improve your chances of appeal. Below are some of the most common reasons behind denials:

1. Insufficient Medical Evidence

Unless you have thorough medical records of your disability and its effects on your ability to work, your application is unlikely to be successful. Lack of sufficient medical documentation to back up a disability claim is the most common factor behind the denial of SSDI or SSI benefits. Make sure you have thorough medical records, including diagnostic test results, treatment history, and doctors' notes, to prevent denial on these grounds.

2. Non-Compliance with Treatment

If you fail to adhere to your healthcare provider’s prescribed treatments for your medical condition, the SSA may mistakenly believe your condition is not as severe as you claim. To avoid denial, it’s crucial to follow your doctor's treatment recommendations and keep comprehensive records of your compliance.

3. Insufficient Work History

To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have a work history with sufficient credits to qualify for benefits. Regardless of work history, however, you may still be eligible for SSI benefits - provided you meet the SSA’s medical criteria and financial limits.

4. Exceeding Income and Resource Thresholds

When you report your income and assets, do so with complete honesty and accuracy. To qualify for SSI benefits, applicants must have limited income and resources to the point that they cannot meet basic needs like food and housing. If your income or resources exceed the thresholds established by the SSA, your claim will be denied.

5. Failure to Cooperate

During the application process, the SSA may request additional information or documentation. It’s important to respond quickly with any and all requests for information or scheduled medical exams - if you don’t, your claim may be denied.

6. Disability Not Severe Enough

The SSA only provides SSDI or SSI benefits to applicants whose disability is expected to last at least one year or result in death. If the SSA determines based on circumstances or medical evidence that your condition is likely to improve within a year, your claim may be denied.

If your claim has been denied for any reason - including any not listed above - contact our social security lawyers as soon as possible. Our attorneys can help you identify and address the issues in your claim and guide you through the appeals process to improve your chances of approval. Whether you need help submitting an application or contesting a denied claim, we will do everything we can to ease this demanding process.

Why Do I Need a Disability Attorney?

If your claim for Social Security disability benefits has been unjustly denied, you may be feeling a combination of worry, frustration, and hopelessness. If your disability is severe enough to limit your ability to support yourself, the prospect of an uncertain future can be incredibly stressful. You may find yourself struggling with self-worth, or wondering what you could have done differently in the application process. These feelings are entirely understandable when the system designed to address your needs has failed you. While it may seem like your situation is impossible, remember that a denial is not the end of the road - in times like these, our social security disability attorneys can make a serious difference.

Our attorneys have successfully appealed thousands of denied claims, and are prepared to offer you the same guidance and expertise. They will carefully review your case, gather any necessary evidence, and develop a compelling argument to present during the appeals process. With an in-depth knowledge of Social Security disability law and a strong track record of success, our lawyers will provide you with confidence, a sense of hope, and a clear path forward. Call Wettermark Keith at (877) 715-9300 to schedule a complimentary consultation with our legal team.

Navigating the Social Security Listings: What Are the Most Common Qualifying Disabilities?

The SSA uses a list of disabilities, known as the "Blue Book," to determine eligibility for disability benefits. The most common types of qualifying disabilities listed in the Blue Book include:

Musculoskeletal Disorders - Conditions like arthritis, spinal disorders, and amputations affect the bones, joints, and muscles and limit your ability to move, stand, or lift objects.

Cardiovascular Conditions - Heart and blood vessel disorders can severely impact your ability to walk, run, or perform physical activities. Common examples include heart failure, coronary artery disease, and peripheral artery disease.

Respiratory Illnesses - Breathing disorders can limit your ability to perform work-related tasks. Examples include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and cystic fibrosis.

Neurological Disorders - Multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and other conditions can affect the nervous system, potentially impairing cognitive or motor functions.

Mental Health Conditions - Mental disorders like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder can range in their severity. At their worst, they can drastically impact your life and your ability to work.

The Application Process: a Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for Disability Benefits

Implementing the below steps in your benefits application can significantly boost your initial chances of success:

1. Check Your Eligibility

Carefully read the instructions on the SSA website before starting the application process. You can only be eligible for SSDI compensation if you have a qualifying disability (one that prevents you from participating in SGA) and a sufficient number of work credits from prior employment.

2. Gather All Required Paperwork

Compile all paperwork related to your employment history, health, and identification. This data will be used to determine your eligibility for benefits and to assess the degree of your disability. You can find a list of all of the documents required to support your SSDI claim on the SSA website at

3. File an SSDI Benefits Form

you can fill out the SSDI benefits form online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security office to file for social security disability benefits. You must be specific and detailed when providing information about your disability. Accuracy in your initial application can prevent major obstacles down the road. Incomplete or false information will lead to the denial of your claim.

4. Initial Evaluation

The SSA will conduct an initial evaluation after you submit your application to see if you meet the prerequisites for SSDI compensation. At this point, your application can be turned down if they determine that you don't meet these conditions.

5. Disability Determination

If your application passes the initial review, it will be sent to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in your state. They will further evaluate your case, examining your medical records, employment history, and other data in detail. If necessary, the DDS may ask for additional medical tests or examinations.

6. Approval or Denial Of Your Claim

The DDS will decide on your social security disability claim based on the evidence presented. You will get a letter outlining your benefits - including the monthly payment amount and start date - if your claim is approved. If your claim is rejected, a letter outlining the reasons why will be sent to you along with instructions on how to appeal the decision.

Disability Benefit Payments: What to Expect When You're Approved

If you’re approved for disability benefits, you can expect to receive payments every month to help cover your expenses. In addition to monthly payments, you may be eligible for other benefits, such as Medicare or Medicaid coverage, depending on the program you qualify for. The overall benefit amount you receive for SSDI or SSI will depend on:

Previous earnings (for SSDI) - Your SSDI benefit amount is based on both your average lifetime earnings and the amount you've paid into the Social Security system.

Financial need (for SSI): Your SSI benefit amount is determined by your income, resources, and living arrangements, with a maximum federal benefit rate that is adjusted annually for inflation.

However, if your application for disability benefits is denied, don't lose hope. Our attorneys are ready to help you navigate the appeals process and defend your rights - all the way to the courtroom, if necessary. Reach out to us at (877) 715-9300, through our website chat, or via our online form to schedule a complimentary consultation with our legal team.

What Sets Wettermark Keith Apart? We Treat Clients Like Family.

Wettermark Keith, with offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. Our reach is not only regional but includes a diverse range of practice areas, including premises liability law, personal injury cases, auto wrecks, trucking wrecks, insurance dispute claims, nursing home abuse, medical malpractice, on-the-job injuries, social security disability, and veterans’ disability claims, to name just a few.

At Wettermark Keith, we believe in taking cases personally. Our purpose is to advocate with care and compassion- to tell our clients’ stories and make their voices heard. Our lawyers do this by building strong relationships based on constant communication and an unwavering dedication to truth and trust. You should never wonder what’s going on with your case. Your social security lawyer will keep you in the loop and treat you like family- because to us, you are.

Our Reviews

Wettermark Keith was extremely professional and helpful. This personal injury law firm helped my husband over 10 years ago when he fell and broke his foot on vacation. I called them first because I liked their TV commercials. They are very nice people and I would call them again if I needed a lawyer.

- Juanita

Law firm Wettermark Keith has exceeded my expectations! I recommend these lawyers to anyone and everyone I come across. Their commitment to their clients is outstanding. Communication is easy. And I got my settlement very fast. I definitely recommend working with Lee Hawker. He is very gracious and kind. He looked out for me and my family and went above and beyond for us. I’m very grateful!

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Frequently Asked Questions

To determine if you qualify for disability benefits, you must meet the SSA's eligibility criteria. This includes having a qualifying disability that prevents you from working for at least 12 months or results in death. For SSDI, you need sufficient work credits based on age and work history. For SSI, your income and assets must be below the limits specified by the SSA.

SSDI is a program for disabled individuals who have contributed to Social Security through their working life. Eligibility for this program is based mainly on disability severity, work history, and the number of work credits earned. In contrast, SSI is a needs-based program for disabled individuals with limited income and resources - this program is not based on work history, and you do not need work credits to qualify.

The SSA evaluates a variety of factors when determining disability benefits qualification. They ensure you're not working above the threshold for substantial gainful activity (SGA), assess the severity of your condition, compare your condition to the SSA's Blue Book criteria, examine your ability to perform past work, and consider future work you might be eligible for based on age, education, and experience. If they find that you are suffering from a severe disability that prevents SGA, you will be determined disabled and eligible for benefits.

Work credits are earned through employment and are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. In 2021, you earned one work credit for every $1,470 you earned, with a maximum of four credits per year. The number of work credits needed to qualify for SSDI depends on your age when you became disabled. Generally, you need at least 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

You can apply for Social Security disability benefits online, by phone, or in person at your local Social Security office. If you prefer to apply in person, find the nearest Social Security office and schedule an appointment. To apply online, you can visit the SSA website at, and for phone applications, you can call 1-800-772-1213. If you have questions about the application process for Social Security disability, call Wettermark Keith at (877) 715-9300. We will do our best to answer any questions you might have and help you in every way we can.