To see our FAQ on whether you need an attorney to represent you, click here.
A. Under the Social Security Act, “disability” means “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
A. The best way to file a Social Security disability claim is to go to your nearest Social Security office and apply in person. However, you can also call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 and arrange for a telephone interview. At that time, they can also direct you in applying through the Internet
A. The best time to apply for benefits is as soon as possible. You should apply on the day you become disabled or you believe you will be out of work for at least a one year period of time. Remember, it is to your advantage to file for benefits as soon as possible, since oftentimes the process can take 12 – 18 months. You should not, however, wait until you have been disabled for 12 months before you apply.
A. No. Any claimant can represent himself in his claim for Social Security disability benefits. However, claimants who are represented win more often than those who are not represented, and all cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning the attorney only receives a fee if you win your case. All fees must be approved by Social Security Administration. There is no fee if you are not successful in obtaining benefits.
A. SSD/SSI benefit amounts are determined by a formula which is based upon your earnings record. The formula allows for yearly increases in order to adjust for cost of living. The amount of your benefits will be based on your average earnings for all of the years you have been working, not just your most recent salary. Somebody awarded SSD benefits is automatically eligible for Medicare 24 months after the onset date they were found to be disabled.
A. Minor children of a disabled worker can receive auxiliary benefits. This amount varies but is approximately 35 – 45% of the disabled worker’s monthly payment amount.
A. The Administration uses a step-by-step process which is as follows:
A. You do not have to wait until workers’ compensation ends in order to apply for disability benefits. An individual can file a claim for disability benefits while receiving workers’ compensation benefits and it is advantageous to do so as soon as possible; otherwise, there may be a gap between the time the workers’ compensation ends and the disability benefits begin. In addition, while there may be an offset, it is always advantageous if possible to be awarded both benefits.
A. No. Rather, you must have a condition that you expect to be disabling for at least a one year period of time. At a future date, you may no longer be disabled and return to work on a full or part time basis.
A. The hearing before the Administrative Law Judge is fairly informal. The parties present will be you, your attorney, the Administrative Law Judge, and in most cases, a vocational expert and often a medical expert. There is no arbitration panel or jury and no attorney from the Administration. Testimony will be given by you, as well as a vocational expert and medical expert, and your attorney will have an opportunity to elicit information from you and cross examine both the medical expert and vocational expert. Statistically, more than 60% of the claimants who ultimately get benefits win at this level.
A. Yes. Your case can be appealed to the Appeals Council and thereafter to Federal Court. In addition, you may file a subsequent application at a later date.
A. Yes. If you live in a household under a certain economic level and have less than a certain amount of assets, and are found to be disabled, you may still qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits even if you have never worked or have not worked in a number of years. It is also possible to qualify for disabled adult/child benefits on account of a parent if you became disabled before age 22 or for disabled widow/widowers benefits based upon the work history of a deceased spouse.
A. It is important that you be as complete as possible in providing information to Social Security when applying for benefits. It is important that you document all of your conditions, the effects and limitations those conditions may present, as well as be as complete and thorough in providing the names, addresses, phone numbers, of all health care providers. It is important that you do not minimize the severity of your conditions. Remember, if you are denied initially (statistically, most claimants do not receive benefits based upon the initial application), you should always make sure you appeal and request a hearing within the 60 day period allowed. It is important that you hire an experienced Social Security representative so that your chances of receiving benefits are greatly increased. Statistically, claimants who employ an attorney to represent them are much more likely to win than those that are unrepresented.