FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How many different types of Social Security disability benefits are available?
There are at least five major types of Social Security disability benefits.
Disability Insurance Benefits is the most important type of Social Security disability benefit. It goes to individuals who have worked in recent years (five out of the last 10 years, in most cases) that are now disabled. It has the added benefit of qualifying you for Medicare.
Disabled Widow's and Widower's Benefits are paid to individuals who are at least 50 years of age and become disabled within four years after the death of their spouse. The late husband or wife must have had worked enough under Social Security to be insured.
Disabled Adult Child Benefits go to the children of persons who are deceased or who are drawing Social Security disability or retirement benefits. The child must have become disabled before age 22.
For Disability Insurance Benefits, Disabled Widow's or Widower's Benefits and Disabled Adult Child benefits, it does not matter how high the income of the disabled individual is. Benefits are paid based upon a Social Security earnings record.
Supplemental Security Income Benefits, however, are paid to individuals who are disabled and have a low income. It does not matter for SSI whether an individual has worked in the past or not.
SSI Child's Disability Benefits are a type of SSI benefits paid to children under the age of 18 who are disabled.
How soon after becoming disabled can I file for Social Security disability benefits?
You can file for Social Security disability benefits on the very same day that you become disabled. Many individuals make the mistake of waiting months or even years after becoming disabled before filing a Social Security disability claim. Any individual who suffers serious illness or injury and expects to be out of work for at least a year or more should not delay in filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits.
What are my chances of winning at a hearing?
Statistically, over half of the claimants who have a Social Security disability hearing win.
While you may file your disability application on your own, your chances of overcoming a claim denial without a representative are very low.
What is involved in the application process?
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits requires extensive information about you, your injury or illness, your medical records, and your work history. The more accurate and specific you can be in your application, the greater the chance it will be approved. To know what the Social Security Administration wants and how to present it is difficult. However, we are highly trained and experienced in the process, which will benefit you.
Medical history: The Social Security Administration will want the names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates of service for all the doctors, hospitals, and clinics youve seen for your injury or illness. We will provide the forms that pertain particularly to you for your physician to complete. Furthermore, we will work with your medical providers to ensure they provide all your medical records and other information.
Work history: Your application must include a complete work history that describes all the jobs you have held over the past fifteen years. The examiners will want to know if your injury or illness prevents you from doing the type of work you have done previously.
Personal/educational history: Your age at the onset of the disability and your level of education may both have a bearing on whether you will be considered disabled. The Social Security Administration recognizes that individuals over the age of 50 and those with a high school education (or less) have more difficulty with retraining and finding new employment.
What can I do to improve my chances of winning my Social Security disability claim?
Beyond being honest and complete about your disability with Social Security, the most important thing that you can do is to hire an experienced professional to represent you. We can help you to successfully navigate the system from the initial application to the complex appeals process. It is especially critical to appeal the initial denial because most claims are denied at the initial level but are approved at higher levels of review. At this stage the help of a knowledgeable representative becomes invaluable. We understand the way Social Security works and how their evaluators think.
How long will it take for my case to be resolved?
Disability claims can take several years to make their way through the complex process of denial and appeal. However, we can help speed up your case as much as possible. We seek expedited hearings when appropriate and we are proactive at all times.
What happens if my case gets denied?
You have the right to appeal the decision several times, including to U.S. District Court.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing: We will prepare your case your first appeal in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Social Security Office of Hearings and Appeals.
Social Security Appeals Council: This group will review the ALJs decision, looking for procedural error.
Federal Court Appeals: Even if the Appeals Council denies you benefits, you can appeal your case through the Federal Courts. Perhaps once every year or two years, the United States Supreme Court actually hears an appeal about a Social Security disability case.
What if I already have a representative?
If you are not satisfied with your current representation, you have the right to terminate that relationship and seek different counsel. You will owe your previous representative reasonable payment for any work that has been done for you. Both representatives will be required to file a fee petition. Once we successfully collect for you, we can usually pay your former representative from our fee.
How do representatives for Social Security disability claimants get paid?
In almost all cases, the representative receives 25 percent of the back benefits. The claimant will keep all future benefits in full. If your case is denied, there are no fees to be paid.