Answer: Social Security Disability requires that you be unable to do your normal work, or other work you might be able to do, for one year or more. You can apply for benefits before being out of work for a year, if it appears you will be out of work for more than a year.
Social Security Disability is available for disabilities from all causes, including injuries, and illnesses. It is also available for illnesses which are expected to result in death. Social Security has special expedited processing procedures which may be available for such claims. I can assist you in filing a claim and moving it through the system.
Answer: The same disability standard applies to Social Security Disability Benefits and SSI. However, the benefits are different.
To qualify for Social Security Disability, you must have worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes to achieve an "insured" status. Insured status can generally last up to five years after you stop working. If you become disabled within your period of insured status, you will be able to collect benefits.
Insured status only lasts for a limited time after you stop working, so it is important to consider appealing a denied claim rather than filing a new claim later. If you file again later, you may be prevented from claiming disability far enough back to access your insured status. You may lose significant benefits. If you are wondering if you should file a new claim or appeal your denial, give me a call.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are available to people who have not achieved an “insured” status. In some cases, where a person's Disability Benefit is relatively low, SSI benefits may also be available in addition to the Disability Benefit. SSI is subject to limitations due to income, and financial and material resources owned by you and your spouse.
If your SSI claim is denied, it is also important to consider appealing that denial, rather than filing a new claim later. If you file a new claim later, you may lose significant benefits. If you are wondering if you should file a new claim or appeal your denial, give me a call.
Answer: Your initial consultation is free. Most consultations are done over the phone. If your case involves unusual circumstances or special information, I may meet with you in the office before deciding if I am able to take your case.
Answer: In almost all cases, attorney fees are only paid if you receive benefits on your claim, so there are rarely any up-front fees. If your case is successful and you receive payment, then a fee is payable. In most cases, the fee is deducted by Social Security from your past due payments and paid directly.
Occasionally a person may want representation where the usual fee agreement would not be possible. These are handled on a case-by-case basis.
Attorney fee arrangements are always discussed and all questions are thoroughly answered before I become your attorney.
Answer: I and my office typically do the following:
- I meet with you personally to review your information, discuss your case, review terms of representation, and begin work. This may include the filing of Initial Claims, or a Request for Hearing, or other information that the Social Security Administration requires.
- Contact your health care providers and obtain medical records.
- Ask doctors for specific information regarding your medical conditions, the severity of your problems, and limitations on your ability to work.
- Obtain information from past employers to document the date that you last worked or other related issues such as an unsuccessful return to work.
- Talk to witnesses who may provide information about your case. These additional witnesses may also be presented at your hearing to help strengthen your case.
- Research and prepare issues of law, Social Security Regulations, Social Security Rulings, and court decisions to better present your case.
- If you have an initial claim, send all relevant information to prove your claim to the Disability Determinations Service or present the evidence to the Hearings Office if you will be having a hearing.
- If your case involves a hearing, I will meet with you to review your case and prepare you for your hearing.
- If you have a hearing, I will represent you at your hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and at any additional hearings if they should be needed.
- Once a successful decision has been issued in your case, I review the decision to check for errors or other problems.
- I assist you in obtaining the benefits you are entitled to after winning your claim and monitor the payment of those benefits.
- If I represent you and your claim is denied, I will evaluate your case and decide if an appeal is advisable. In most cases I will take the case on a further appeal.
- If your case is denied through all levels of the Social Security system, I will also consider taking your case on appeal to the Federal Court, filing a lawsuit on your behalf and briefing and arguing your case to completion.