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Social Security F.A.Q.

  • Who qualifies for Social Security Disability?

Anyone who is unable to obtain and perform any kind of significant and gainful work due to a physical or mental disability or a combination of impairments can be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) payments if the impairment has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year or is expected to result in death.

Click here to learn what the Social Security Administration considers when determining if a person is disabled.

You must have worked and paid Social Security tax for about five out of the ten years immediately preceding the onset of your disability. Different rules apply to people under 30 years old. If you aren’t covered for SSD benefits because you haven’t worked enough you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

You must show that you can’t do any kind of full-time work taking into consideration your age, education and work experience. If you are under 50, this means you can’t do any work of any kind. At 50 and older, Social Security gives greater consideration to the type of work you’ve done in the past and how much education you have. You cannot get benefits if you are able to work regularly on a sustained basis, even if no one will hire you.

  • How do I know if I should apply?

If you are suffering from a disease or injury, or a combination of diseases and injuries, that make it unlikely that you will be able to return to regular, sustained work, you should consider applying for SSD and/or SSI. If you are uncertain it may be beneficial to contact a trained legal professional to discuss your situation. The Stocker Pitts Law Firm,and other firms like it, don’t charge a fee for you to consult with a lawyer who can help you decide what to do.

  • What benefits might I receive from Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability recipients usually receive two forms of assistance: a monthly check and payment of some medical expenses. How much a person collects depends on work history and, in SSI claims, other available income. Federal medical benefits are administered through Medicare. For more information on Medicare, click here.

  • Can a worker receive Social Security Disability benefits as the result of a work-related injury?

Yes. If the work-related injury will prevent the injured party from working for one year or more, or is expected to result in death, then the worker could be eligible for SSD benefits.

  • When should I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

As soon as possible! You should file soon after you become disabled and are unable to work. You do not need to wait twelve months to apply. An application for SSD may also be filed after the death of a disabled worker. It must be filed within three months of the death of the worker.

When you apply you should ask to be considered for both SSD and SSI in case you haven’t worked long enough to be eligible for SSD. Even if you are eligible for SSD, if your earnings are very low, you still might benefit by applying for both.

The whole process can be very time consuming. Therefore, the sooner you get started, the sooner you may begin to receive financial assistance from Social Security.

  • Where do I file for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits?

You can apply for benefits at any Social Security office, by mail, or by telephone. By going to your local Social Security office you are more likely to receive individualized attention from the agency. They can discuss your situation with you, offer advice, and help you correct any mistakes that may appear on your application prior to filing.

  • What should I bring when I file?

The process is likely to proceed more quickly if you arrive at your conference prepared with certain information. Information that you will need includes:

  1. A Disability Form. These are available at your local Social Security office or online at the Social Security website.
  2. Your Social Security number.
  3. The Social Security number of any dependants who will receive benefits.
  4. A certified copy of your birth certificate.
  5. Names, addresses and phone numbers of any doctors, hospitals, or other institutions who have evaluated and/or treated conditions associated with your disability.
  6. Dates of all visits to these care providers.
  7. A full doctor’s report that will satisfy the government’s proof requirements. This should be recent and should include a thorough discussion of injuries or illness that prohibit work, an explanation of work restrictions, and an explanation of whether or not the disability will last for a year or result in death.
  8. Names and dosages of any medications you are taking.
  9. All medical records associated with your disability.
  10. Any laboratory or testing results.
  11. A complete summary of all gainful work you have done in the past 15 years including names of employers, dates of employment, and descriptions of the type of work performed during the course of your employment with each given employer.
  12. A copy of your most recent W-2 form.
  • What happens after I file?

The Social Security Administration will conduct an investigation of your claim. This will include contacting your medical providers and, in some cases, scheduling independent medical examinations. Once all evidence is received, the Social Security Administration will make a decision. This usually takes four to six months after the application is filed.

  • What happens if Social Security denies my claim?

You have the right to file an appeal. You should appeal by filing a “Request for Reconsideration.” You must write the Social Security Administration within 60 days of the denial of benefits.

Your case will be reviewed by a different section of the Social Security Administration and you will be notified of the decision by mail. Most of the time you will be turned down again. If you are turned down again you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Your request must be received by the Social Security Administration within sixty days after you receive your denial notice from the Reconsideration Review. Don’t be discouraged. Many people win their case at the hearing level.

  • When will my hearing be scheduled?

Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration is experiencing a tremendous back up of hearing requests. You can expect to wait eighteen to thirty-six months before your hearing is scheduled.

  • Should I be represented by an attorney at my hearing?

Although an attorney is not required at the hearing, it helps. Most claimants do have an attorney by the time of hearing. The government’s own statistics indicate that benefits are awarded far more frequently to claimants who have an attorney. Firms like the Stocker Pitts Law Firm have lawyers who have worked with hundreds of SSD and SSI applicants and have helped many of them to receive benefits.

A Social Security hearing is a legal proceeding and an attorney with expertise in this field can greatly benefit your case with his or her knowledge and experience, maximizing your chances of receiving financial benefits from Social Security.

  • How much does it cost to hire a Social Security Disability attorney?

Most attorneys, including our firm, handle Social Security Disability cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that we don’t get paid unless we are able to secure Social Security benefits on your behalf. Our fees are based on a percentage (usually 25%) of any back benefits awarded by Social Security up to a certain amount established by the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Administration requires attorneys to submit written fee petitions for their approval. Also, our office does not charge for telephone or personal consultations.

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