Q: Do I qualify for benefits?
A: The standard for Social Security disability is whether you can work full time on a consistent basis, whether at your old job or at some other job you are suited for. Your disability must be expected to last a year or end in death. There are other technical requirements, like when and how much you have worked and paid in to Social Security. If the government is challenging your right to receive benefits that you have worked for and earned, let us raise our voice for you.
Q: Is it important to see a doctor?
A: Disability decisions must be based on medical evidence, so it is essential that you see one or more doctors and that you follow prescribed treatment. If at all possible, make sure that you treat with an appropriate specialist, rather than just your family doctor. Most judges place great weight on the findings and opinions of specialists who have seen you over a course of time (not just a one-time exam).
Q: How long does the process take?
A: As of 2021, the disability process is moving faster than before, but it is still time-consuming. Initial decisions take 4-5 months; a reconsideration of that decision takes 4-5 months. If we need to request a hearing with a judge, that takes 4-6 months. Most claims that require a hearing take about 18 months from start to finish.
Q: Do I have to get my own medical records?
A: No. All you need to do is give us a complete list of doctors, hospitals, tests and treatments. We then gather the records from your medical sources. We bear the cost of getting medical records, win or lose. We may obtain a medical statement from your doctor setting forth your restrictions.
Q: What fees do I have to pay for your services?
A: Our fees are based on your back benefits, the money you are waiting for while you go through the application process. Our fee is limited to 25% of those past-due benefits, and there is also a “cap” of $6000 (the most that Congress allows us to charge), if the case does not go to federal district court. Our fee is deducted by Social Security and paid directly to us; you never have to worry about paying us. If you don’t win any back benefits, our fee is $0.
Q: If I lose my claim, do I owe you a fee?
A: No. We pay all the costs of getting and submitting medical records and any other evidence needed to support your claim. Unlike some of the other firms in this area, we do not charge any fee if we cannot obtain benefits for you.
Q: Can I work part-time while I am applying for Social Security Disability benefits?
A: This is a very common question, but it’s more complex than it looks. Part-time work might not keep you from getting benefits, but there are certain things to remember:
1. Making more than $1,310 (in 2021) per month gross income (before taxes) will almost always mean you will be denied benefits.
2. You must be limited to part-time work due to your disability. If the only reason for working part-time is that the employer has no more hours to give you, or you have to be home when your children get home from school, that is not related to your disability.
3. Social Security also looks at what you do on a part-time basis. If you do a light or medium job for 10-15 hours a week, a judge might conclude that you could also do a sedentary job for more hours.
Q: Can I collect UC benefits and still make a claim for disability benefits?
A: To get UC benefits you must say that you are “able and available for suitable work,” but to get disability you have to prove that you cannot do any kind of work. That sounds like a conflict, and the judge in your case may ask you about it. You will want to discuss this with your attorney ahead of time so that you can answer this question appropriately. For many people, especially older workers applying for disability, it is possible to claim both benefits for the same period of time.
Q: Can I still apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, if I took early retirement at age 62 because I could no longer work?
A: Yes. As long as you are age 66 or younger, you may apply for Social Security disability insurance benefits either on your own or through our office. Disability benefits may be many hundreds of dollars higher than early retirement benefits for the same period of time. If you take early retirement, you are locking in the reduced rate for your lifetime. Wouldn’t you rather have the higher amount? Call the Social Security office to find out the difference in payment amounts and then call our office to discuss how to get the greater payment.
Q: If I get Social Security disability benefits, will my children also get benefits?
A: Yes, if you are approved for SSD, not if you are only approved for SSI. Minor children can receive benefits as your dependents, but you must apply separately for them after you are awarded benefits. Social Security does not automatically pay benefits to your dependents.
Q: What can I expect of my Social Security attorney?
A: We promise that we will be prompt and responsive, returning phone calls in 24 hours. We will obtain necessary medical records and other evidence and prepare you for hearings so you know what to expect. We will give you our best professional advice but let you make important decisions, since you will be living with the consequences. We will be proactive and do everything possible to provide a successful outcome. We will answer your questions and always put your interests first. We will use our experience, knowledge and energy to provide the best chance for a positive outcome for you.