Social Security Disability

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There are two ways to get disability benefits through Social Security.

The first is called Social Security Disability. This is a monthly payment which is based on the deductions which were paid from your paycheck to the IRS. If you are successful in this type, you will receive a monthly benefit based on the amount of income that you had while you were working at your job.

The other is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  This also is a monthly payment, which is based on need. If your income is low and you have very few assets, and you are disabled, then you will receive this monthly benefit. 

What must you prove in order to get disability benefits?

You must be unable to work. This means at any type of work, — not just your prior job. Proving this is based on your own statements as well as those of your physicians. In some types of cases, the Government Regulations explain the types of injuries and medical conditions which you must have in order to qualify for benefits. If you have more than one symptom or condition, you can qualify for benefits. These would be considered together. You can also qualify even if other factors such as the effect of medication keeps you from working.

How will the attorney get paid for representing me in my case?

The attorney will receive 25% of the back payments which are awarded to you. If there are no back payments, and we win, the Judge will set a fee. I will not be paid any of the continuing monthly payments. You will have to pay any minor expenses for such items as doctors’ reports if they are needed, but most of the time, they are already obtained by the Social Security Administration. This 25% is the fee as long as the case is in the Social Security Administration. If the case goes to Federal Court, the fee can continue as a percentage, or it can be on a “retainer” basis.

If you are awarded Social Security Disability, the Social Security Administration will withhold 25% of the back payments. If you are awarded SSI, you will have to pay the 25% directly to me at the time that you receive the SSI back benefits check.

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How to apply for disability benefits from Social Security

You may go to your nearest Social Security office and submit an application. The worker will help you complete it. I can apply for Social Security Disability, for you, through the internet with you here in my office. You will have to go to the Social Security office to apply for SSI. It may require from 6 weeks to 6 months to find out whether or not you are approved. If your application is denied, it will be by a letter from the Social Security Administration. What you must do if you are denied is to promptly file a Request For Reconsideration. I can help you do this. You only have 60 days to do this. If you do not do this within 60 days, then you have to start over and submit a new application. This again takes 6 weeks to 6 months to find out an answer. This request is rarely granted.

If you get turned down, it will again be by a letter from the Social Security Administration. You must then file a Request For Hearing. I can help you file this Request. You only have 60 days to file this Request. If you do not do this within 60 days, then you have to start over and submit a new application. You should have a lawyer at the hearing. A hearing before an Administrative Law Judge will be set from 60 days to six months. Sometimes it takes a year to get a hearing. I will go to the hearing with you at the Office of Hearings and Appeals. We will look over the file of the Social Security Administration to see what documents are in the file and which are still needed. Actually, the file can be left open after the hearing to obtain any additional medical reports which may be needed.

You will be questioned at the hearing about you disability. Any witnesses that you bring will also be questioned. There may be a Vocational Expert present at the hearing, who will give an opinion about what jobs you can and cannot do. I will cross-examine this person. You can expect to wait at least 120 days before receiving the written opinion of the Administrative Law Judge. It can take as long as a year to receive a decision.

If you are turned down, we will then file a Request for Review with the Appeals Council in Washington, D.C. We will not go to any hearing. That office will review the decision of the Administrative Law Judge. We will receive a decision from 90 days to a year after filing the Request for Review.

If you are again turned down, then the only course left is to file a lawsuit for in Federal Court. If we agree to pursue that route, I will file a brief with the Court. The Court will review your case and decide whether or not the Social Security Administration acted properly in denying you benefits, or whether the Social Security Administration should be reversed. It has been my experience that it is difficult to win in the Federal Court in East Tennessee, so it is best to get your case established before it gets to the Court stage.

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