Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a Lawyer for my SSDI/SSI claim?
You don’t have to have a lawyer to file and pursue a claim for benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not require you to have an attorney. In fact you can even use a non-attorney advocate or even represent yourself. But the real question is should you have an attorney represent you.
The Social Security Administration’s own statistics show that claimants who use a lawyer are far more successful in winning their claims than those who don’t.
Numerous claimants, however, use an attorney for reasons in addition to increasing the statistical likelihood of success. Many claimants find using an attorney is very helpful in every aspect of the Social Security process, from filling out the paperwork to handling the appeals.
Why use a lawyer?
When you initially file a claim for benefits, you will be required to fill out a number of forms. These forms are very important to your claim and will have a lot to do with determining whether or not you will win. It is very important that these forms are completed correctly.
It is also very important to understand that you have the burden of proof in presenting your claim for disability. It is not the Social Security Administration’s responsibility to prove your claim for you or to help you win. If there is insufficient evidence presented, you will lose whether or not you are actually disabled. An attorney who is familiar with the Social Security system can make a significant difference in your chances of winning.
Due to the complexity of the Social Security laws, and the need for gathering precise medical evidence, it is vital that attorney representation be obtained as early as possible in the process. Certainly, it would be unwise to go before the Administrative Law Judge without a properly trained and knowledgeable attorney. It is also vital that, if a person is asking for either Social Security Disability or SSI, that he or she be under the care of a physician who will provide well-documented information about the person’s physical and/or mental problems and the limitations that these conditions cause.
In fact, the United States Supreme Court determined that the aide of an attorney was so important to a person pursuing a claim for Social Security benefits, that it now requires all of the judges to advise unrepresented claimants, during the hearing, that they have a much better chance of winning their claim with the aide of an attorney.
What Will An Attorney Do for Me?
Each case is different, but provided below are just some of the ways an attorney or advocate can help you through the Social Security Process:
- Aid you in filling out all forms
- File your initial claim
- File appeals, if necessary
- Evaluate your case and answer any questions
- Gather evidence from persons such as your doctor to strengthen your claim
- Handle all aspects of the hearing
- Prepare you for the questions and topics that will come up at your hearing, and address any issues you are concerned about
- Fully argue your case at the hearing
How much does it cost to have a lawyer represent me?
Nothing if you don’t win. We represent social security clients on a contingency fee basis which means you do not pay anything up front and we only get a fee if you win. Social Security has set the fee at 25% of any past due benefits you receive, up to $6,000.00, whichever is less. The only additional monies you may owe would be for costs such as medical records, copies etc. Non-lawyers are authorized to charge the same fee, so it does not cost any more to have a fully licensed attorney who is admitted and regulated by the Florida Bar to handle your case instead of a non-lawyer.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is an insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration for disabled people who have worked and paid FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) taxes for a certain number of calendar quarters. To see if you have enough credits to qualify go to:
SSDI provides a variety of benefits to family members when the main wage earner in the family becomes disabled or dies. SSDI benefits are payable to disabled workers, widows, widowers and children or adults who have been disabled since childhood who are otherwise eligible.
The program is funded with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers and self-employed persons. SSDI benefits are paid monthly. The monetary amount paid to the beneficiary depends on the disabled worker’s age, level of earnings and time in the work force. Payments begin after a five-month waiting period from the time of the disability and will continue until the individual dies or is able to work again. If the individual is able to work again, SSDI will provide “work incentives” to ease the transition back to work with continued monetary benefits and health care coverage.
What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
Supplemental Security Income is a federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues, not by Social Security taxes like the Social Security disability insurance program. It pays benefits based on financial need and is designed to help blind, disabled and aged individuals with little or no income to meet the fundamental.
How To Apply For SSDI\SSI benefits
Filing for Social Security disability benefits is too important to be unfamiliar with the laws and facts. The process can be confusing and overwhelming. Errors on the application or in documentation can cost you time and money, and can get you denied. Whether you have applied for benefits or not, please fill out our free evaluation form on the home page and someone will contact you and provide you free evaluation.
Of course, you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits with the Social Security Administration yourself. You may apply in person through your local Social Security Administration office, by calling 1-800-772-1213 for help by phone or online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/.
Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?
Have you filed for Social Security Disability benefits, but been denied? You’re not alone recent statistic show that from 1999 through 2008, on average 72% of Social Security claims are initially denied.
Filing, at any stage of the proceeding, with the aid of an attorney significantly increases your chances of winning, but there are deadlines regarding the timeliness of your appeal so contact us today.
How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?
In evaluating whether a person is entitled, Social Security looks at five factors.
- If the person is working, Social Security will usually deny benefits.
- The second factor is whether the person has a “severe” physical or mental condition which would have a significant impact on performing work-related activities and that impairment has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more.
- The third factor is highly technical. It requires a determination as to whether the specific physical or mental impairment is the same as specified impairments printed in the Social Security Regulations. This is strictly done by medical opinion, and very few people meet that standard.
- The fourth factor that Social Security considers is whether a person can perform his or her “past relevant work.” This means work performed for more than six months at any time over the last fifteen years before the person claims disability. If a person can perform that work, they are not disabled.
- If a person cannot perform any of his or her past relevant work, then Social Security considers whether the person can perform other work that exists in reasonable numbers, either in the person’s local area or in the national economy. Social Security takes into consideration age, education, the type of past work performed, and the person’s restrictions from their physical and/or mental impairments.
Can I apply for SSDI/SSI benefits while I am working?
According to Social Security, applicants must have a condition (either physical, mental or a combination of both) that prevent them from working for a period of 12 months or more in order to be eligible for benefits. Currently, “Working” according to Social Security is earning more than $1000.00 a month (this amount may change from year to year). However, the inability to earn the $1,000.00 per month must be due to your disability not economic factors or that you choose to work less hours. You do not have to be out of work for 12 months before you apply but your condition should be such that you and your doctor expect the condition will keep you from working for at least 12 months. If you are unsure whether your condition meets this requirement, please feel free to complete the online evaluation form and our trained staff will review and contact you to discuss further.