What is the definition of disability for Social Security purposes?
A severe physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that has lasted or is expected to last a minimum of one year or result in death, that prevents an individual from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
Can a person receive temporary, partial or short term disability?
No. Social Security is a total disability program.
What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?
SSDI offers cash benefits to persons based on their work and earnings record. The money received is as if a person took their full benefit at retirement age. SSI is a means tested, public assistance program and is for indigent persons who have never worked or do not meet the earnings requirements.
When should I apply for Social Security or SSI benefits?
It’s wise to apply as early as possible as cases can take a long time to complete.
How do I apply?
Individuals can apply on the internet, through an attorney or by calling 1-800-772-1213. An appointment will be scheduled at a local office.
What kind of evidence is used to evaluate and decide my disability claim?
Medical evidence takes many forms, hospital records, physician treatment notes, mental health records, blood work and test results (such as x-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, EMG, EKG, etc…). Also doctor’s opinion evidence obtained by attorneys regarding their patients ability to do work related functions (sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, etc…) are very helpful.
Can certain medical conditions get approved for disability automatically?
Yes, if an individual has a “listed impairment” meeting certain medical criteria.
What should I do if my initial claim is denied?
All is not lost. In fact, many meritorious cases that should have been approved on initial application are eventually approved by an administrative law judge after a hearing. If you haven’t done so, this is an excellent time to consult with an attorney. Immediate action should be taken as there are only 60 days to appeal.
How do I pay an attorney?
Social Security attorneys take cases on a strict contingency fee basis meaning that there is no attorney fee unless the claim is approved and benefits granted. The only possible cost to the client is that of medical development. The attorney fee is 25% of the one time retroactive benefit payment. There is a 6 month waiting period from the date of disability for payments to begin.
How can an attorney help me win my case?
The factors an attorney will evaluate to determine if you have a good case is your age, education, prior work history and your medical and/or mental history. A business decision has to be made if the case merits the investment in time considering the contingency nature. Cases are won in the preparation and your attorney will get all relevant medical records and opinion evidence from the treating doctors in a form most useful for a favorable disability determination. You will also be thoroughly prepared as to what to expect at the hearing.