Working through the Social Security Disability process can be very confusing. A case can turn on a seemingly very simple medical condition. Having the assistance of an attorney to guide you through not only the legal process, but insuring that all of the appropriate medical records are available and supporting statements from the doctors are in order can be critical to the success of your case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a lawyer right away for my Social Security Disability Claim?
No. Many times you can commence the process yourself by either going to a local social security office or going to the website, www.ssa.gov.
The first step in the process is for the Social Security Administration to gather records and review your application. You can do this without an attorney.
If you are denied, you may ask for a reconsideration. If the reconsideration is denied, then you most likely want to contact an attorney to assist you in the next stage of appearing before an administrative law judge for review of your claim.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer for Social Security Disability?
The law very clearly states that an attorney cannot retain a fee unless they obtain a recovery. The amount of the fee is the lesser of 25% of the award, or a maximum of $6,000.00. The award upon which a fee is taken is for any retroactive benefits from the time of filling the claim up until the time of the award. Future benefits are not subject to any additional attorney fee.
How long does it take to get benefits?
This time period can vary widely. If you are successful in the first round, it might happen within a few months. If you are denied benefits, by the time you retain an attorney and appear before the administrative law judge, it could be well over a year. At one time there was an almost 2 year backlog of cases, but that has improved. Still, it is a long wait and you cannot plan on immediately getting benefits just because you have applied.
My doctor says I’m disabled, isn’t that enough?
Unfortunately, no. Many people think that if a doctor says your disabled, then you will win. The Social Security Administration does its own independent review and uses a strict set of guidelines. The doctor is a very important part of the case and can help by giving us medical records and completing a supporting medical source statement. However, a simple letter that you are disabled will not suffice.
If I get disability benefits, how long do they last?
Generally, once a disability award is made, the disability continues up to the point of retirement. However, in the appropriate case, Social Security can always do a disability review. If you have a condition that subsequently becomes treatable, then the benefits might end. Thus, even if you win initially, that’s no guarantee you will have the benefits for life.
What to bring to your first appointment
- Any prior Social Security Papers you have received.