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Q
How Do I Apply?
ATo apply for Social Security disability benefits, you will need to complete an application for Social Security Benefits and the Disability Report. You can also print the Disability Report, complete it and return it to your local Social Security office. Social Security may be able to process your application faster if you help them by getting any other information they need. While it is possible to apply on your own, we recommend seeking legal help at the outset. It can make the difference between a well presented claim that is successful, and one that is denied and must go through many months of appeals.

You can also apply on your own by calling the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. Representatives there can make an appointment for your application to be taken over the telephone or at any convenient Social Security office.

Q
Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I expect to get better and return to work?
A

You have to have been disabled, or expect to be disabled, for at least one year to be eligible. So, if you expect to be out of work for one year or more on account of illness or injury, you should file for Social Security disability benefits. Do NOT wait until the year has elapsed before you begin.

The final award rate for disabled-worker applicants has varied over time, averaging nearly 45 percent for claims filed from 2000 through 2009. The percentage of applicants awarded benefits at the initial claims level averaged 28 percent over the same period and ranged from a high of 37 percent to a low of 26 percent. The percentage of applicants awarded at the reconsideration and hearing levels are averaging 3 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Denied overall disability claims at all stages have averaged nearly 53 percent.

Q
How do attorneys who help Social Security disability claimants get paid?
A

Cases are generally handled on a contingency basis. That means the representative receives a fee only if you win your case. Normally the fee is 25% of your back benefits and must be approved by Social Security. This fee is set by federal law.

If you do not win your case there is no fee. There are also costs in each case for which you may be responsible. These costs are charges paid to doctors for medical records and will be discussed in detail with you before we agree to work together.

Q
How does the Social Security Administration define disability?
ASocial Security defines disability as the “…Inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for continuous period of not less than 12 months.” While this is the hard line of the law, there are many variables.  We would be happy to discuss these details with you.
Q
I got hurt on the job. I am drawing workers’ compensation benefits. Can I file a claim for Social Security disability benefits now or should i wait until the workers’ compensation ends?
A

You do not have to wait until the workers’ compensation ends, and you should not wait that long.

An individual can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Offset calculations are made to equalize any overpayment from either program.

Q
If I am approved for Social Security benefits, how much will I receive?
A

For disability insurance benefits, it all depends upon how much you have worked and earned in the past. A national average is $1129.

For disabled widow’s or widower’s benefits, it depends upon how much the late husband or wife worked and earned. For disabled adult child benefits, it all depends upon how much the parent worked and earned.

For all types of SSI benefits, there is a base amount that an individual with no other income receives. Other income that an individual has reduces the amount of SSI which an individual can receive. Each year we all receive a report from Social Security about our retirement benefits. This report also has the dollar figure you’d receive if you were disabled. A spouse and children are also eligible in most cases.

Q
Is it necessary to hire a representative to file my Social Security disability claim?
A

Although an applicant can proceed unrepresented, the success rates are significantly different for represented and unrepresented claimants.

The final award rate for disabled-worker applicants has varied over time, averaging nearly 45 percent for claims filed from 2000 through 2009. The percentage of applicants awarded benefits at the initial claims level averaged just 28 percent over the same period and ranged from a high of 37 percent to a low of 26 percent. The percentage of applicants awarded at the reconsideration and hearing levels are averaging 3 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Denied overall disability claims at all stages have averaged nearly 53 percent.

Social Security does its best to process cases, but the backlogs are well known. A good attorney will gather all the necessary information THE FIRST TIME, and increase your chances for success.

Q
What do I need to file a Social Security disability or SSI claim?
A

To complete the application, you should gather the following information:

  • Your Social Security number;
  • Your birth certificate or other evidence of your date of birth (if you do not have a birth certificate, you may request one from the State where you were born);
  • Your military discharge papers, if you were in the military service;
  • Your spouse’s birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is applying for benefits;
  • Your children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers if they are applying for benefits;
  • Your checking or savings account information, so your benefits can be directly deposited;
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and institutions that treated you and dates of treatment;
  • Names of all medications you are taking;
  • Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers;
  • Laboratory and test results;
  • A summary of where you worked in the past 15 years and the kind of work you did;
  • A copy of your W-2 Form (Wage and Tax Statement), or if you are self-employed, your federal tax return for the past year;
  • Dates of prior marriages if your spouse is applying.

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