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Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is the definition of disability used by Social Security?
  2. How do lawyers who represent Social Security disability claimants get paid?
  3. Do I really have to hire a lawyer to represent me in my Social Security disability claim?
  4. Can an attorney help me obtain my Social Security benefits faster?
  5. Are there different types of Social Security disability benefits?
  6. How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?
  7. What do I do if Social Security denies my claim for Social Security disability benefits?
  8. How long does it take to get a hearing on a Social Security disability claim?
  9. Can I apply for Social Security disability benefits if I have money?
  10. How long do I have to wait after becoming disabled before I can file for Social Security disability benefits?
  11. Do I have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security disability benefits?
  12. Can my mental illness serve as the basis for a Social Security disability claim?
  13. If I am on short or long-term disability, can I file for Social Security disability now?
  14. I was injured in an accident but hope to go back to work. Should I file for Social Security disability benefits?
  15. What is the Social Security hearing like?
  16. Can I appeal a case beyond Social Security to the Federal Courts?
  17. If I get my Social Security benefits and get better, can I go back to work?
  18. Can I receive Social Security benefits if I have never worked?
  19. My doctor says I am disabled and told me to apply for Social Security disability, so why has my Social Security disability claim been denied?
  20. I receive VA disability benefits, so why has Social Security denied my disability claim?
  1. What is the definition of disability according to the Social Security Administration?

    Under the Social Security Act, "disability" means 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 a continuous period of not less than 12 months."

  2. How do lawyers who represent Social Security disability claimants get paid?

    Social Security regulates the fees of all attorneys. There is no fee unless you win. When you win, your attorney will receive 25% of your past due benefits or $6,000, whichever amount is less.

  3. Do I really have to hire a lawyer to represent me in my Social Security disability claim?

    No, but it is a good idea. Statistically, claimants who are represented by an attorney win much more often than those who are not represented. Many people who try to represent themselves regret not seeking counsel and proper legal advice. Therefore, it is to your benefit to consult an attorney who routinely practices Social Security disability law.

  4. Can an attorney help me obtain my Social Security benefits faster?
  5. Sometimes. If your Social Security disability application has been denied, an attorney may make an on-the-record (OTR) request that your benefits be granted without the need for a hearing. Your attorney may also request a dire needs hearing in certain circumstances.

  6. Are there different types of Social Security disability benefits?

    Yes. There are five main types of benefits: (1) Disability Insurance benefits (also known as SSD or RSDI); (2) Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) for adults and children; (3) Disabled Widow’s benefits and Widower’s benefits; (4) Disabled Adult Child benefits.

  7. How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

    The best thing to do is contact an attorney to obtain advice on exactly what you will need and what to expect when you go to apply for your claim. You may file an application for a Social Security disability claim on the Internet or at the nearest Social Security office. The process include filling out paperwork and an in-person or over-the-phone interview.

  8. What do I do if Social Security denies my claim for Social Security disability benefits?

    If you are denied, you are not alone. Only about 30% of Social Security disability claims are approved at the application phase. If your application is denied you should appeal. You will have a limited amount of time in which to file your appeal. It is important that you do not miss your appeal deadline. You should contact an attorney to represent you for the reasons stated in #3.

  9. How long does it take to get a hearing on a Social Security disability claim?

    The average time period is roughly 500 days. However, in certain circumstances there may be ways for your attorney to expedite the process.

  10. Can I apply for Social Security disability benefits if I have money?

    Yes. You do not have to wait! Many people believe that you must exhaust your savings, retirement, or 401K before applying. This is not true and you should not wait to file an application for a claim.

  11. How long do I have to wait after becoming disabled before I can file for Social Security disability benefits?

    Do not wait! If you feel that your impairment or combination of impairments will last 12 months or longer, you should apply immediately after consulting with an attorney.

  12. Do I have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security disability benefits?

    No. The legal requirements for Social Security disability only require that you are unable to work a full-time job for 12 months or longer.

  13. Can my mental illness serve as the basis for a Social Security disability claim?

    Yes. Mental illness by itself can be enough to obtain your Social Security benefits. Many people, however, make the mistake of failing to mention their mental illnesses because they are embarrassed or because they downplay the significance of the impact their mental health illness has on their ability to work.

  14. If I am on short or long-term disability, FMLA or sick leave from work, can I file for Social Security disability now?

    Yes. You should file for Social Security disability immediately if you believe that you will be unable to work a full-time job for 12 months.

  15. I was injured in an accident but hope to go back to work. Should I file for Social Security disability benefits?

    Yes. You should file for Social Security disability benefits if you believe that the injuries you sustained in an automobile accident or on the job will prevent you from working a full-time job for 12 months.

  16. What is the Social Security hearing like?

    Social Security hearings and courtrooms are not like you see on television. It is a formal hearing only in that it is recorded. Otherwise, it is relatively informal. Present at the hearing is your attorney, a judge, a court recorder, and typically an individual who discusses the jobs that exist in the region. However, it is a “closed” hearing – meaning that it is not open to the public. This ensures your privacy.

  17. Can I appeal a case beyond Social Security to the Federal Courts?

    Yes. If you have gone through a hearing and lost, appealed your claim to the appeals counsel and lost, then you may file a lawsuit against the Commissioner of Social Security in the United States federal courts.

  18. If I get my Social Security benefits and get better, can I go back to work?

    Yes. Social Security disability does not have to be permanent. Many people get better or their condition improves enough that they are able to work a full-time job and eventually return to employment.

  19. Can I receive Social Security benefits if I have never worked or worked very little?

    If you have never worked or worked very little or have a disabled child and you are poor, then you or your child may receive benefits under Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

  20. My doctor says I am disabled and told me to apply for Social Security disability, so why has my Social Security disability claim been denied?

    Your doctor’s opinion is important, but the Social Security Administration is ultimately responsible for determining whether you are disabled under their rules. Your attorney will know what your doctor needs to do to give you the best chance at winning at your hearing.

  21. I receive VA disability benefits, so why has Social Security denied my disability claim?

    The Social Security Administration is not bound to by decisions of other agencies such as the VA. Different standards for each agency apply. However, the reasons you have been found disabled or partially disabled by the VA is important information to give your attorney!

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