The Social Security Administration has complex regulations to determine if you Social Security Disability are eligible for disability insurance benefits (SSDI) or supplemental security income (SSI). These benefits are paid to people not yet retired who have physical or mental health limitations which prevent any work in the national economy when disability is expected to last for 12 months or more. The Social Security regulations take into consideration such additional factors as your age, education, past work, and potential for obtaining a job. Disability means that you have a medical condition which prevents you from performing any full-time competitive employment in the economy.
How do I apply for Social Security benefits?
Visit your Social Security Administration’s (SSA) local office or its website ssa.gov and apply for benefits immediately if you believe you are disabled and will be so for 12 continuous months. After your medical records are reviewed, the local SSA office will send you a letter giving you a decision. Most people who apply are denied benefits at this initial stage of the application.
How long will a decision take?
If your case requires a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, you may have to wait for a year or more for a favorable decision.
Should I appeal my initial denial?
Yes! Unfortunately, many people simply give up after an initial denial. The next stage of appeal is called “Reconsideration.” You must request Reconsideration within 60 days after initial denial. You should hire an experienced Social Security attorney after initial denial. Most people who apply for Reconsideration are also denied again.
Should I appeal my Reconsideration denial?
Yes! You must appeal within 60 days by requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ is independent from the Social Security Administration. ALJs review all cases to ensure the social security regulations are applied fairly.
When should I see an attorney?
Immediately! Preparation takes time. The best time to hire an attorney is the earliest stage of denial.
What does it cost to hire an attorney?
An attorney cannot charge a fee for representing a Social Security claimant unless approved by the SSA or ALJ. Fees are limited to 25% of past due benefits by SSA regulations. Most attorneys also charge actual office expenses (such as doctor charges for medical records) even if the case is lost. The SSA withholds 25% of past due benefits for the attorney in disability cases. The claimant is expected to pay the attorney 25% directly for SSI benefits. After winning benefits, the attorney is not entitled to further fees for future benefits.