HOW DOES SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY WORK?
The federal government established Social Security as a way for workers to retire at a predetermined age. The earliest that someone can receive retirement benefits is age 62. However, by applying for early retirement you will take a penalty and/or receive less money than if you wait to apply for retirement at your predetermined retirement age.
These Social Security retirement benefits increase on a sliding scale up to age 70. These benefits are meant only for those who have been working normally throughout their adult lives. Anyone who becomes disabled and is unable to work, MAY receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are the two different types of Social Security disability benefits a person may be eligible for. SSDI is designed for disabled workers who have paid into the system, and SSI is a program for individuals who have not paid into the system.
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SSDI benefits are determined by the amount that someone has paid into the system. SSI is a set amount of monthly income which can be affected by any income and/or assets that the individual who is applying for benefits have as well as their spouse.
SSI is designed for those who do not have a work history. SSDI is designed for those who have a work history and are no longer able to maintain full-time employment. SSI helps those who may have been disabled since they were children, teens, individuals who have not paid enough into the system, and/or individuals who have little to no income or assets.
Also, If you are unable to work and are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits but are not entitled to Supplemental Social Security (SSI) benefits, you do not get paid for the first (5) full months after you become disabled.
Social Security also has non-medical requirement which must be met before your medical records will be evaluated. These non-medical requirements can be found on the Social Security disability website at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/qualify.html.
With Social Security, you can also be entitled to a closed period of time, if you were off work for a period of at least a year and have been receiving ongoing doctor's care during this time, you may be entitled to a closed period of Social Security disability payments. Even if you have another job now, you still might be entitled a back amount from Social Security for the period when you were unable to work, if you qualify.
Also, please keep in mind, If you are currently receiving unemployment while trying to obtain Social Security disability benefits and you go to a hearing in front of a Judge, he or she may take into account the fact that you received unemployment while trying to obtain benefits from Social Security. When someone applies for Social Security disability benefits you are indicating that you are unable to work. When you are receiving unemployment benefits you are indicating that you can work and are actively looking for work. Although there is nothing in the law right now indicating that people who obtain unemployment benefits while trying to also obtain Social Security benefits will be denied, we need you to be aware that by doing this you may be denied by the Judge at your Social Security hearing or the Judge may subtract your past due benefits with how much you received in unemployment benefits.
We at Art Gage Law understand, that the majority of people who find themselves in a situation that they become unable to work as a result of a disability, do not quite understand how the Social Security disability system works. Therefore, we strive to work with our clients to support them, explain this complicated process, help file claims, appeal denied benefits, appear before administrative law judges, and appeal unfavorable decision to the Appeals Council when necessary.
Additionally, we handle your paperwork, requesting and submitting your medical records, filing deadlines, and communicating with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
CAN I RECEIVE RETROACTIVE BENEFITS?
Retroactive benefits are available for anyone who has been disabled before they applied. The disabled person may not realize the steps they can take when an injury or accident occurs. Retroactive benefits can be offered for up to 12 months before the application date for SSDI applicants. However, SSI applicants may only receive retroactive pay to the date that the initial SSI application was filed. However, please know retroactive benefits are not guaranteed.
WHAT IF MY INITIAL APPLICATION IS DENIED?
Once you apply for Social Security disability benefits, it typically takes 5 to 6 months before you will receive a decision from the Social Security Administration.
If you receive a denial on your initial Social Security disability application, you will have 60 days to submit an appeal and/or reconsideration request. Once an appeal is filed it typically takes approximately 5 to 6 months before you will receive a decision on your appeal and/or request for reconsideration. If you have recently received a denial, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss your claim and prevent any delays in your Social Security disability case.
Please know, the 60 days to appeal a denial decision is firm. However, there are times when things occur which can prevent someone from filing a timely appeal such as a hospitalization, incorrect address, a family emergency, medical emergency, and/or not receiving your denial letter from the Social Security Administration. These are just a few things which may warrant a good cause request. Please contact Art Gage Law if you have any additional questions pertaining to this..
WHAT IF MY APPEAL AND/OR REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION IS DENIED?
If your appeal and/or request for reconsideration is denied. You will be given 60 days from the date of your denial letter to request a hearing. The same process is followed when requesting a hearing as when you request an appeal and/or reconsideration.
Once a request for hearing his filed, it typically takes 12 to 16 months before a hearing date will be scheduled.
WHAT HAPPENS AT MY SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY HEARING?
A hearing is conducted in front of administrative law judge (ALJ) who will listen to your argument and review the medical evidence you have submitted.
An ALJ will also have the opportunity to question you about your condition and to ask clarifying questions about your records. The ALJ will also usually have a vocational expert (VE) at the hearing. A VE is a person who is trained to give an opinion about the types of jobs you can and cannot do based on your physical and mental limitations. The ALJ will generally follow the VE's opinion about whether or not you can work.
When you go to the hearing, you must be ready to explain any inconsistencies that may exist in your medical records. You must also be able to cross-examine the VE if he or she testifies that you can still work.
Therefore, we highly recommend having representation for you at your hearing. Here at AVG Law, we prepare you for your hearing prior to your scheduled hearing date. We will tell you what will happen during your hearing and prepare you for the questions that may be asked during your hearing.
Additionally, we write pre-hearing memorandums for all our Social Security disability cases. This memorandum is the theory of your case which will also address any inconsistencies in your medical records. This is sent to the Administrative Law Judge prior to your scheduled hearing.
WHAT IF MY CASE IS STILL DENIED AFTER MY HEARING?
If you receive an unfavorable decision from the Administrative Law Judge, you can appeal this decision to the Appeals Council. If this happens, we will re-evaluate your case at that time and discuss your opinions at that time. Please know, if we decide to appeal your case to the Appeals Council, it can take another 12 to 16 months before the Appeals Council will make a decision. Also, please know, we will not appeal your case to the Appeals Council unless you were already a client when you received your unfavorable decision.
HOW MUCH WILL A SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY LAWYER AND/OR ADVOCATE CHARGE?
Unlike many attorneys, disability lawyers and/or advocates do not charge up-front fees or require a retainer to work on a Social Security disability cases. Most disability attorneys and advocates will be paid a fee only if they win the case (this is called a contingency fee).
If the Social Security Administration makes a favorable decision in your Social Security disability case, we charge 25% up to the maximum dollar amount (currently set at $6000.00) allowed under the Social Security Act Section 206(a)(2), or such higher amount set by the Commissioner of Social Security based on the date Social Security Administration (SSA) makes a fully favorable decision on your claim.
However, if your claim is awarded by the Appeals Council, Federal Court, or following a remand issued by the Appeals Council or Federal Court, the federally mandated dollar limit (Currently set at $6000.00) no longer applies. Our fee then will be for the entire 25% of your past due benefits.
Our fees are withheld and paid directly to us from your retroactive benefits. However, there are times in which the Social Security Administration fails to withhold our fee from your back benefits. Please know, if this happens in your case, you will be responsible for paying us the fee that has been approved by the Social Security Administration.
In addition to the fee, there are reasonable expenses which are incurred in representing Social Security disability cases whether or not you are approved for Social Security disability benefits. These costs include, but are not limited to, the costs of medical reports, long distance telephone charges, document scanning, photocopy, fax charges, postage, travel expenses (at the IRS mileage rate at the time for business use), witness fees and transcript costs. You will receive an itemized bill for these expenses at the end of your case. Please know, you will be responsible for these charges regardless of the outcome of your Social Security disability case.