Social Security Disability
You can Win Your Social Security Disability Claim or Appeal with Our Experienced Disability Attorneys
In our lifetimes we spend time working hard to provide a good quality of life for ourselves and our families. Much of our planning involves how to earn money to support ourselves and our loved ones in the good times and the bad times. We try to anticipate the future to the best of our abilities as we plan. Unfortunately, there are things that can happen in our lives that we don’t anticipate and our plans must change. One of these things is a disability.
If you or a loved one has suffered or is suffering from a disability, it is important to have a qualified and experienced Disability Attorney on your side to help you or your loved one navigate the confusing world of making a disability claim so that you and your loved ones can stay focused on getting well and dealing with the challenges of your disability while your lawyer deals with the legal aspects of your disability and obtaining all the disability compensation that you and your loved ones are entitled to by law in such a situation.
At Julie A. Rice, Attorney at Law, & Affiliates, our Disability Lawyers have many years of experience navigating this road and have had a history of tremendous success in applying for and winning disability claims for our clients. You may Contact Us for your free legal consultation at any time during your process of dealing with a disability whether it be a disability that recently happened, a disability you have struggled with for years, or if your claim has been denied for any reason.
We can be reached 24/7 by any of the following means by phone at 770-865-8654 and 813-363-6664, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Contact Us on our website. We have helped thousands of people with disability claims and we have been very successful in these endeavors and we know how to navigate the confusing maze of filing for and/or appealing a disability claim, and how to win in these cases.
It is imperative that when you file for disability that all of your forms are completed correctly since any error, or missing or incomplete information, for example, even if accidental, can cause you to lose benefits and precious time. This is why it is so important that you have a qualified lawyer on your side who will zealously advocate for your rights and who is experienced in this area of law. We are able to answer the many questions that you may have if you are suffering from a disability whether it be a short term disability or a long term disability, and whether it is a disability that you have just suffered or it is a condition that you have been struggling with for years.
Many of the important items that we can do to assist you is to file your claim, represent you at any hearings, and file any appeals that are necessary. We understand that in these times of need that every minute counts and we treat your claim as such every step of the way, and we are there for you every step of the way. You are our top priority and getting you the benefits that you deserve is our top priority so that you can work on healing and the other challenges that follow from a disability while we work on the legal aspects of your disability.
It is important to note that there are two (2) types of disability programs that you can apply for as follows:
1.) Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This program is designed to pay benefits to disabled individuals and eligible family members if the disabled person has worked for a certain period of time and paid Social Security taxes as such.
2.) Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This program is designed to pay benefits based on a person’s financial need, and is usually paid to individuals whose disability, or disabilities, have prevented that person from ever being able to work or enter successfully into the workforce.
To qualify for either SSDI or SSI, you must first meet the Social Security Administrations definition of disabled and you must provide medical records and other such information to support your claim. Since it can take a long time for a claim to be processed it is imperative that the claim is filed correctly and that is what we are experts at doing for you and your loved ones.
We are able to assist people Nationwide with disability claims and appeals as well. Once you begin receiving benefits you will realize how these benefits can make a tremendous difference in your life.
We also firmly believe in the following Client Bill of Rights:
- 1.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to Talk to the Firm that Represents You on the Same Day as you Call.
- 2.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to be Updated Regularly and in a Timely Fashion by the Firm that Represents you as to the Progress of Your Case.
- 3.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to Respect.
- 4.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to Expect Competence from the Firm that Represents You and from All Who Work with You on Your Case.
- 5.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to Know the Truth about Your Case.
- 6.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to Prompt Attention from the Firm that Represents You.
- 7.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to Have your Legal Rights and Options Explained to you in Plain Language without Legalese.
- 8.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to a Fair and Written Fee Agreement with the Firm that Represents you in Your Claim.
- 9.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to a Fair Fee for the Work that is Performed on Your Case.
- 10.) We believe that you as a client have the Right to Make the Ultimate Decisions in Your Case.
As such, we are committed to you and we believe that you have the Right to the Highest Standard and Quality of Legal Representation in your Case.
Furthermore, we can answer some of the many questions that you may have about disability including, but not limited to:
- 1.) How does the Social Security Administration define “disability”?
- 2.) Can my child quality for Supplemental Security Income Benefits?
- 3.) What is COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment)?
More information on the details of Disability Benefits can also be found at the Social Security Administration’s website, the U.S. Federal Government Website for Information on Disability Programs and Services Nationwide, and the Answers to Many Frequently Asked Questions can be found on the Social Security Administration’s website as well, and on our website under Frequently Asked Questions about Disability. For your Free Legal Consultation, please kindly Contact Us so that we can show you the quality of legal representation that you deserve and assist you in obtaining all the benefits that you are entitled to under the law.
The following is more information that will be helpful to you in understanding the process of applying for, and winning, a social security disability claim.
The first question that has to be answered is whether or not you are disabled. A disability is generally defined as a physical or mental condition that limits your ability to work, and perform and enjoy everyday activities. People can become disabled for a variety of reasons at any age such as early as birth for a birth defect or from an injury or illness later in life. The Social Security Administration (SSA), which is who determines whether or not you are disabled in terms of being awarded social security benefits, states that as we age we are more likely to become disabled and unable to work or perform and enjoy everyday activities.
The types of conditions and the degree of disability from those conditions varies widely and is a major factor in determining disability. For example, if you take two people with the same condition and one can work a regular job with minimal interference from the condition, then that person will not be considered disabled according to the SSA. Another person with the same condition, however, may reach a point with that condition that makes it impossible for that person to work and that person, therefore, becomes disabled in terms of the SSA.
The SSA does not consider you to be disabled if you can work for at least twelve (12) months or if you are not considered terminal. Furthermore, the SSA does pay for partial disabilities and, in most cases, you must also have worked long enough and currently to be insured for benefits. Furthermore, you must have a condition that the SSA considers disabling and be able to prove to the SSA at the time that you apply that you are totally disabled. It is also very important to note that the SSA can terminate disability benefits at any time that the SSA deems that you are no longer disabled under their guidelines.
To apply for disability there is a five (5) step process that the SSA follows to determine if you are disabled and eligible for social security disability payments. This determination is made by an examiner and the Disability Determination Services department (DDS) that includes a medical team, and the medical team reviews each case file to determine disability. The following are the five (5) steps that they follow:
1.) Are you working and did you engage in Substantial Gainful Activity? In 2012, for example, if you earned $ 1,010 per month then you were not considered to be disabled. This amount does change each year, however.
2.) Is your Condition considered Severe by the SSA? This means that the Condition is severe and interferes with your ability to do your job.
3.) Is your Impairment listed in the SSA’s lists of Disabling Conditions, or is it Equal in Severity to an Impairment that is listed? There are two lists; one for children and one for adults.
The adult list is broken down into fourteen (14) high level categories by body system including:
- Special Senses
- Subcutaneous Tissue
- Multiple Body
If your Condition is not listed, then the DDS will determine whether or not your Condition is equal to one of the Disabling Conditions on the list above.
4.) Are you able to do the Same Work that you have Done in the Past? If the DDS determines that you can do the same work you have done in the past, then your claim will be denied.
5.) Are you able to do any Other Type of Work? The DDS will evaluate your age, education, medical condition, skills, and experience to determine if you are capable of doing other types of work. If you are able to do other types of work, then your claim will be denied.
It is also very important to note that if you do not cooperate with the SSA such as failing to return the necessary paperwork, attend hearings, submit to a doctor’s examination of the SSA’s choosing, or if you use alcohol or drugs or have addiction issues, then your claim may be denied.
The second question you are probably asking is, How Do you Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits? Since it takes three (3) to five (5) months on average for the application process, it is very important that once you have been told that you will be disabled for twelve (12) months or more or that your condition is terminal, that you begin the application process. At that time, there are three (3) ways that you can apply:
1.) Online at http://ssa.gov/applyfordisability.
2.) By Phone at 1-800-772-1213
3.) In Person at a local SSA office, and the locations can be found at: http://ssa.gov/locator.
Your Application will be reviewed and if you meet the requirements of Steps 1 and 2 as described herein above, then your Application will be sent to the DDS for a medical review.
In order to Apply, you will need the following original information:
1.) Proof of Age
2.) Social Security Number
3.) For the past 15 years, the List of Employers and the Type of Work that you Performed
4.) W-2 Forms
5.) If you were Self-Employed, then Tax Returns
6.) Names, Addresses, and Phone Numbers of All Doctors, Hospitals, Therapists, and the like that you have Visited and the Dates of those Visits
7.) All of your Medical Records
8.) All of your Laboratory and Test Results
9.) A Complete List of All Medications you are Currently taking and the Dosage of Each.
10.) Form SSA-3368 which is the Adult Disability Report
11.) Optional: Form SSA-827 which is the Authorization to Disclose Information to the SSA so the DDS can request additional medical records if needed.
After you have submitted all of the above information, then there will be a Disability Application Interview. This interview may take place over the phone or in person. For this interview, you should be prepared to answer the following types of questions:
1.) What Companies Have you Worked For Over the Past 15 Years (and you should have the names, addresses, job titles, employment dates, and supervisors names and phone numbers available)?
2.) What Tasks were Required in Each Job (have a job description for each job handy for your reference)?
3.) What Doctors Have you Seen in the Last Twelve (12) Months for the Treatment of your Disability (you will want to have names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of visits handy for your reference)?
4.) Are You Receiving Workers’ Compensation Payments or Any Other Type of Disability Benefits (you must disclose all of this information and note that the SSA may reduce your benefits as a result of any other benefits you are currently receiving)?
5.) You may also be asked your Marital Status, Number of Children and Military Status or Service.
Once all of this information is obtained, then it will be forwarded to a Disability Examiner for review.
More than half, and an estimated as many as 72% of claims are denied. If your initial claim is denied, there are levels of appeals that you may go through:
1.) Reconsideration by the DDS (online via. Form SSA-3441), or by calling or visiting the local SSA office and telling them you want to appeal. This must be done no later than sixty (60) days after the date of denial of your initial claim. And, if you were receiving benefits and the benefits were terminated, then you must appeal within the (10) days of termination of the benefits.
2.) A Formal Request for Reconsideration (Form SSA-561-U2). When this Formal Request is submitted then the claim will be given to a different examiner and medical team for review.
If your claim is then again denied, and most claims are denied again with an estimated only three percent (3%) overturned at this level, you may then appeal this denial further and request a Disability Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
At the Hearing, you will be asked the following types of questions:
1.) Why Can’t you Work?
2.) How much Weight can you Lift (if your job involves lifting weight)?
3.) What Do you Do in a Typical Day?
4.) What Medications do you Take?
5.) What are the Side Effects of those Medications and Do you Experience those Side Effects?
6.) Do you have Concentration or Memory Issues?
7.) How Long can You Sit and Stand?
8.) Do you Have any Additional Physical Therapies, Surgeries, or Treatments Planned?
You must be honest about your condition.
The following is the type of evidence you will need at your SSA Hearing; remember, the burden of proving that you are disabled is on you so the more information that you have and the more organized you are with that information, the better your chances:
1.) Your Medical Records from An Acceptable Medical Source showing one or more of the following listings of disabilities. This list is for adults, but the same steps apply for children and are not discussed here at this time. You should look up these lists and conditions to make sure that you fall into one of these categories and be able to show that you fall into one of these categories:
- 1.0 Musculoskeletal System
- 2.0 Special Senses and Speech
- 3.0 Respiratory System
- 4.0 Cardiovascular System
- 5.0 Digestive System
- 6.0 Genitourinary Impairments
- 7.0 Hematological Disorders
- 8.0 Skin Disorders
- 9.0 Endocrine Disorders
- 10.0 Impairments that affect Multiple Body Systems
- 11.0 Neurological
- 12.0 Mental Disorders
- 13.0 Malignant Neoplastic Diseases
- 14.0 Immune System Disorders
There are also subcategories of each of these conditions. You should locate your condition and compare it with your Medical Records. These conditions are updated periodically and can be found at:
If there is a question whether or not your Condition meets the exact criteria listed, then you should have a Function Report Adult-Third Party (Form SSA-3380) completed by a third-party medical provider, and submit this form with your application.
The DDS will review your Residual Functional Capacity and your Vocational Profile to determine whether or not you are truly disabled, could do other work, or whether or not you are able to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity. The DDS uses Grids (a/k/a Medical-Vocational Guidelines) to determine your Vocational Profile and capacity to continue to work with your condition. You can find examples of how this grid works on the Social Security Administration Website. Please note that the SSA does not consider whether or not you are likely to find a job, but whether or not you would be able to work if you did find a job.
Once your case is heard by the Administration Law Judge (ALJ), a ruling will be made and there are four (4) potential rulings that may be made:
1.) A Favorable Decision is when the ALJ rules in your favor and agrees to disability payments.
2.) A Partially Favorable Decision is when the ALJ rules in your favor but disagrees on the date of your disability.
3.) An Unfavorable Decision is when you are denied. If you receive this ruling, it is highly recommended that you obtain legal counsel if you choose to appeal the decision to the Appeals Council.
4.) A Dismissal is when you fail to appear at the hearing or do not present new information to justify your claim. The dismissal can also be appealed to the Appeals Council and you should obtain legal counsel to do so.
You have sixty (60) days in which to appeal any decision to the Appeals Council. If you do appeal to the Appeals Council, then a panel of ALJs will review the transcript from the hearing and decide whether or not to grant a review, uphold the original decision, or overturn it and send it back for another hearing.
You have sixty (60) days in which to appeal the decision of the Appeals Council to Federal Court at which time you are required to be represented by an attorney. Finally, if the U.S. District Court does not find in your favor, then you have the option to appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
There are other benefits that may apply to your situation when you file for Social Security Disability and these other benefits depend upon whether you are married, your financial situation, whether or not you have children, and whether or not you have a spouse who is disabled. These other benefits include:
1.) Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for those who have very low income, few, if any, assets, who are 65 or older, blind or disabled.
2.) Survivor Benefits may apply for your spouse, children, or dependent parents if you die.
3.) Wounded Warriors may apply for Military Service Members above and beyond benefits provided by the Veterans Administration (VA).
As you can tell, applying for Social Security Benefits is a lengthy, complicated, and detailed process, and you may be asking yourself the third question, Should I hire an Attorney?
The benefits to hiring an attorney far outweigh the cons to hiring an attorney. The benefits to hiring an experienced Social Security Attorney include, but are not limited to:
1.) Experience. Our Social Security Attorneys successfully handle hundreds of claims each year so we know what to do to improve your chances of having your claim approved the first time around.
2.) Time. It can take up to 12-18 months for an appeal hearing so it is vital that you have the best opportunity to have your claim approved the first time around; at the initial application. Not to mention that our Attorneys can cut the amount of time it will take you to prepare your initial application by advising you about what tasks are and are not necessary and when.
3.) Forms. We understand and know what forms need to be filled out and filed.
4.) Preparation. We can help you prepare for your hearing so you have the best chance for success.
5.) Resources. We have access to the resources that are needed in these types of cases.
6.) Contingency Fees. We handle our cases on a contingency fee basis which means that you pay only if you win.
7.) Federal Court. If your case goes to the federal level, then you must be represented by an attorney.
The cons to hiring an attorney are if you find an attorney that is just in it for the money and wants to charge you too much money. If you are uncomfortable with an attorney you interview, then do not hire that attorney.
The following is a list of the most common Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability. There are many more Frequently Asked Questions on our FAQs page on the website under Frequently Asked Questions for Social Security Disability. You will also find many Resources for Social Security Disability under our Resources tab on this website as well.
Q: How Long does it take to Find out if I am Approved after I Submit my Application?
A: The answer to this question depends upon which level you are in the process. The Initial Application and Reconsideration Process timeframe is approximately 4-8 months at each level. The estimated timeframe for a Hearing depends from office to office, but on average usually takes 12-18 months for the Hearing to be scheduled and then up to another 6 months for the Judge to render a decision.
Q: What are the Odds or Chances that My Application will be Approved?
A: 90% of the applications are denied at the Initial Application Level, and 70-80% of the cases are denied at the Reconsideration Level. If a case is going to be awarded, then it will be at the Hearing Level.
Q: Is there anything I can Do to Improve my Chances of Approval?
A: When you see your Doctor, let your Doctor know that you applying for Disability and get your Doctor’s opinion in writing about whether or not your Doctor thinks that you are disabled and unable to work due to your conditions.
Q: When will I get my First Payment if I am Approved for Disability?
A: After you receive your decision letter, it can take up to 120 days for you to receive your first payment.
Q: How Often is my Check Paid?
A: You will receive a check monthly if you are approved for ongoing benefits. If, however, you are granted benefits for a closed period, then you will receive one lump sum.
Q: What will be the Amount of my Check?
A: The amount of the check varies on an individual basis. The most monthly benefit for SSI that you can receive is $ 698.00 per month.
Q: If I am Approved, then will I Receive Benefits For an Unlimited Amount of Time?
A: No. Every 3-7 years, there will be a review to determine if you are still disabled. Therefore, it is important that you continue to receive medical treatment after you have been awarded benefits.
Q: What is the “Ticket to Work” Program?
A: The Ticket to Work Program was created by Social Security in an effort to give you the opportunity to work without losing your benefits. The Ticket to Work Program is usually issued after benefits have been awarded.
Q: What will happen if my Benefits are Terminated?
A: If your benefits are terminated, then you can always reapply or ask that your case be evaluated again.
Q: If I Die, will my Family Continue to Receive my Benefits?
A: No, once you die your case is ceased. Children under the age of 18, and your spouse, however, may be eligible for Survivor or Widower’s Benefits.
We offer a free consultation so Contact Us today to discuss your claim and let us help you answer the many questions that you might have. We are here to help you!
- Filing and Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
- Social Security Disability Benefits for Children
- Social Security Disability Benefits: The Appeals Process
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- What you Should Know Before Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits