Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability Benefits
A disability can significantly impact your life. If you are unable to work due to your condition, you may have valid concerns about how you will be able to support yourself. With the aid of Social Security Disability benefits, you can obtain the financial resources necessary for you to move forward. Attorney Mark L. Newman routinely assists Cincinnati individuals as they file for disability benefits, and what follows are some commonly asked questions about the process:
- What are Social Security Disability benefits?
- What is Supplemental Security Income?
- Am I eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?
- When should I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
- How do I apply for benefits?
- What information do I need to apply for benefits?
- What to expect after I file my application for SSD or SSI?
- How does the appeal process work?
- What should I expect at an Administrative Law Judge Hearing?
- What factors does the Social Security Administration consider when reaching a decision?
- When can I hire an attorney to represent me?
- How are attorneys paid in a Social Security case?
- Do represented people do better than unrepresented people?
What are Social Security Disability benefits?
Social Security Disability Insurance is a government insurance program funded by Social Security payroll taxes. An individual is considered insured for SSDI benefits if they have worked a certain number of years and made contributions through payroll tax into the Social Security trust fund. An SSDI recipient’s spouse and minor children are entitled to receive partial dependent benefits. After you receive SSDI for two years you are eligible to receive Medicare benefits.
What is Supplemental Security Income?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program based on income and assets. SSI is strictly based on financial need and is not dependent on your work history. To qualify for the SSI, you must have less than $2000 in assets ($3000 per couple) and very limited income. Some assets such as a home and one car are exempt. SSI benefits begin on the first day of the month when you file your application. SSI recipients are also entitled to Medicaid benefits.
Am I eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?
There are several requirements you must be to be eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits. You must meet the medical and financial requirements. The medical condition that is disabling must have lasted, or be expected to last for 12 months. The medical condition must be severe and either meet a Social Security Listing or prevent you from doing your past work or any other type of work. When evaluating whether you can do other types of work Social Security will consider your age, education and whether you have transferable skills. In addition, to the medical requirements you must have earned enough work credits to be eligible or SSDI and have low income and minimal assets to qualify for SSI.
When should I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
You should apply for SSD or SSI when you and your doctors agree that your disability is going to last at least 12 months or after you have been unable to work for several months.
How do I apply for benefits?
There are three ways to apply for SSD or SSI benefits:
- In person, at your local Social Security Administration office
- Online at the Social Security Administration website
- By phone at 800-772-1213
What information do I need to apply for benefits?
When completing your application for SSD and/or SSI you will be asked to provide the following information:
- Personal background information
- Military service records
- A detailed work history for jobs you have performed during the past 15 years
- The name, address, and phone number of all medical providers who have treated you for any disabling medical conditions
- A list of your prescription medications
- Financial/tax information
What to expect after I file my application for SSD or SSI?
The Social Security Administration will review your application and request medical records from your doctors. They may also contact you to discuss your condition and schedule you for a medical exam. The Social Security Administration will mail you a written decision within approximately 3-4 months after you file your application.
How does the appeal process work?
If the Social Security Administration denies your claim, you can file a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of receiving the Initial Determination letter. Social Security will update your file with any new medical records and issue another decision. If your Request for Reconsideration is denied you have 60 days to file a Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge.
What should I expect at an Administrative Law Judge Hearing?
An Administrative Law Judge is for more informal than a trial. The hearings take place in a small room and everyone is seated during the hearing. There is no attorney present for the government opposing your case. The people present at the hearing include you, your attorney the administrative law judge, the judge’s, and usually a vocational expert. The Administrative Law Judge will swear in any witnesses including the claimant and the vocational expert. Typically, hearings last about 60 minutes.
The Administrative Law Judge or your attorney will ask you questions. Typically, the questions cover personal background information including address, who you live with, age, and education, the types of jobs you have performed in the past, your medical conditions and how the conditions limit your ability to perform work activities, your ability to perform household chores, hobbies, social activities and how you spend a typical day. The Administrative Law Judge and your attorney will also ask the vocational expert questions about whether you can perform your past jobs or any other jobs in the economy.
Most of the time the Administrative Law Judge will not make a decision at the hearing. You will receive a written decision in the mail 30-90 days after the hearing.
What factors does the Social Security Administration consider when reaching a decision?
- All severe physical and mental impairments and how such conditions limit your ability to perform work activities
- Work history and prior skills
When can I hire an attorney to represent me?
You can hire a representative at any stage of the proceeding. However, it is most common to hire an attorney after you receive an Initial Determination or Notice of Reconsideration denying your claim.
How are attorneys paid in a Social Security case?
Attorneys represent social security claimants on a contingency fee basis. The attorney fee is 25 percent of the past-due benefits, with a maximum fee of $6000. All Fee Agreements must be approved by the Social Security Administration. If your claim is approved the Social Security Administration will calculate the amount of the attorney fees and send a check directly to your representative.
Do represented people do better than unrepresented people?
The statistics show that individuals who are represented by an attorney are more likely to have their claim for SSD or SSI approved. An attorney can file an appeal on your behalf, obtain medical records to support your claim, prepare you to testify at a hearing, and present and argue your claim to the Administrative Law Judge.
Attorney Mark L. Newman Can Answer Your Questions
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Mark L. Newman
Attorney at Law
3074 Madison Road
Cincinnati, OH 45209
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