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Browse our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about how we can assist you with the Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) processes.
What is the definition of total disability, as this term is used by the Social Security Administration?
A person must be totally disabled from doing any job that exists in the national economy, taking into consideration your age, education, and past work experience. You must have a physical and/or mental impairment that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity and which can be expected to result in death and has lasted or can be expected to last at least 12 months.
When should I file for Social Security Disability/SSI benefits?
Each case is dependent on its own facts, but generally I recommend that after you have been disabled for a five (5) month continuous period of time, consideration should be given to filing an application for benefits. Once the claim has been filed with your local Social Security Administration (SSA) District office, the claim is transferred to the Disability Determination Service (DDS) for medical development. The DDS is a state agency that is hired by the SSA to make the initial determination as to whether the claimant meets the SSA disability requirements.
How do I file a claim for SSD/SSI benefits?
If you have not already filed a claim for benefits, I recommend that you contact my office for a FREE consultation at 888-888-1266 before you apply for benefits. You may also contact the Social Security Administration directly by telephone and indicate that you would like to schedule an appointment to file a claim for SSD/SSI benefits or you may visit the local SSA office in your area and discuss your matter directly with a caseworker. You may also go to ssa.gov and file your disability application. If you are unable to call or visit your local SSA office or do not have access to a computer, you could write a letter to the Social Security Administration telling them that you would like to file a claim for disability benefits and request that they contact you to do so. Once my office has been able to evaluate your matter, we may be able to assist you by filing the claim on your behalf and follow the processing of your claim with SSA.
Do I have to hire an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney to apply for social security disability benefits. Whether a claim has already been filed, or if your claim has been denied, my office may be able to offer assistance in evaluating your case and determining if I and my staff can be of assistance to you and then recommend how to proceed on your claim. I strongly recommend that you obtain a legal consultation, as early as possible in the process. If you have been denied SSD/SSI benefits, it is important that you do not miss your appeal deadline and that you make sure that your appeal is filed within 60 days of the date you are denied, whether an attorney is involved in your case or not. The earlier I become involved in your case, the more assistance I can lend to you in order to make sure that you are guided properly in developing the medical information that will be necessary in your matter. If necessary, I can assist you in obtaining medical treatment and/or examinations that will help clarify your physical/mental conditions.
How does an attorney get paid if I hire one?
My office handles Social Security Disability matters on a contingency basis which means that we are only paid attorney fees if we are successful in having benefits granted to you. The federal rules and regulations provide that the maximum fee that can be paid is 25% of the past-due benefits, up to a maximum of $6,000.00, which amount is adjusted periodically for inflation. What this means is that should benefits be granted to you, the Social Security Administration will calculate the attorney's fees and they pay the attorney fee directly in accordance with the Retainer Agreement that will be entered into when our services are contracted for. Any out-of-pocket costs are the responsibility of the client without regard to the outcome of the case and this in accordance with the law of the State of Michigan and these costs ordinarily do not exceed $200 - $300 unless a very substantial number of records have to be obtained. Our office attempts to get free medical records wherever appropriate, and at the beginning of our case, we ask that you supply us with any Medicaid green card or supplemental medical card that you have that would assist us in obtaining your records at no cost or at a lower cost, if at all possible.
Who makes the disability decision?
If you have not filed a Social Security claim previously, the claim is referred to the Disability Determination Service. They will make a decision by one of their trained evaluation specialists or medical doctors. If, on the other hand, your claim has aready been denied and an appeal has to be made to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review by filing a request for hearing (HA-501) at your local Social Security District Office. Eventually an administrative law judge will hold a disability hearing where testimony will be taken of you, concerning all of your disabilities. We make sure the client is prepared for that hearing and is aware of what questions it is anticipated will be asked and how their participation in that hearing should take place to best benefit their being granted Social Security Disability benefits. If this is your initial claim, it could take three or four months for a decision to be made in your particular case. If this is an appeal before the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review for an administrative hearing before an administrative law judge, the hearing could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months under the current backlog of cases.
If I am granted benefits, what would I receive as far as benefits from the Social Security Administration?
If your claim is for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) this program is designed for indigent individuals and the maximum benefit that can be received on a monthly basis is $674.00 as of 2010 and it is increased yearly for inflation. In addition to the monetary benefits, recipients of at least $1.00 of SSI benefits are automatically entitled to Medicaid benefits, and in many cases, that medical coverage is extremely important for the individual with a disability so they can obtain ongoing treatment of their medical and mental health problems.
If the claim is for Social Security Disability Benefits or what is often commonly referred to as Title II benefits, the amount that is received is dependent upon the amount of earning over the person's lifetime for which Social Security premiums have been paid in to the federal government. Generally these benefits range anywhere from $600.00 to $1900.00 per month plus the individual may be entitled to Medicare benefits after 29 months of eligibility for disability benefits. The Medicare benefits must be paid for and in the year 2010 the premium is $110.00 per month and is increase yearly for inflation. Again, similar to the SSI program, the medical benefits many times are extremely important in obtaining ongoing medical treatment for disabling problems and in some cases the medical coverage is more important than the monthly benefit that the person receives. It is possible a person that worked over many years, but at a low wage rate, to receive possibly $500.00 in Social Security Disability benefits and $174.00 in SSI benefits to bring the person up to the maximum under the SSI program. In addition, this would then qualify an individual for both Medicare coverage and also be supplemented by Medicaid through the State of Michigan, when appropriate.
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