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Q&A’s on Social Security Disability Claims

What is the definition of disability used by Social Security?

Under the Social Security Act, “disability” means “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

How many different types of Social Security Disability benefits are there?

There are at least five major types of Social Security Disability Benefits. Disability Insurance benefits is the most important type of Social Security Disability Benefits. It goes to individuals who have worked in recent years (five out of the last ten years in most cases) who are now disabled. Disabled Widow’s and Widower’s benefits are paid to individuals who are at least 50 and become disabled within a certain amount of time after the death of their husband or wife. The late husband or wife must have worked enough under Social Security to be insured. Disabled Adult Child benefits go to the children of persons who are deceased or who are drawing Social Security Disability or retirement benefits. The child must have become disabled before age 22. For Disability Insurance Benefits, Disabled Widow’s or Widower’s benefits and Disabled Adult Child benefits, it does not matter whether the disabled individual is rich or poor. Benefits are paid based upon a Social Security earnings record. Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI), however, are paid to individuals who are poor and who are disabled. It does not matter for SSI whether an individual has worked in the past or not. SSI Child’s Disability benefits are a variety of SSI benefits paid to children under the age 18 who are disabled.

How do I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

The best, surest way to file a Social Security Disability claim is to go to the nearest Social Security office to see someone to file the claim in person. One may also call Social Security at (800) 772-1213 and arrange for a phone interview to file the claim. Of course, feel free to contact  Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A.  for a Coral Springs Social Security Disability Lawyer to assist you in the application process.

Since I’m disabled but have plenty of money in the bank, must one still wait until its spent before applying for Social Security benefits?

No. If you have worked in recent years or if you are applying for Disabled Widow’s or Widower’s benefits or Disabled Adult Child benefits, it does not matter how much money you have in the bank. There is no reason to wait to file the claim.

I used to work but lately have been staying home taking care of the kids. Now that I’m disabled, can I still get Social Security benefits?

Possibly. If you have worked five out of the last ten years under Social Security before becoming disabled, you will have enough earnings in to potentially qualify for benefits. For individuals aged 31 or less however the requirements are a little different, since such persons have not worked as long. In any event, even if you do not have a significant work history one might still qualify for Supplemental Security Income so long as your overall assets do not exceed a specified level.

How long do I have to wait after becoming disabled before filing for
Social Security Disability?

Not even one day. You can file for Social Security Disability benefits immediately after you have become disabled. Many individuals however make the mistake of waiting months and even years before doing so. Of course our law office can evaluate your potential claim for free and provide a legal opinion as to whether or not you’ll ultimately be found disabled.

I am on sick leave from my employer. Is there a possible claim for
Social Security Disability?

Yes. Fortunately you don’t have to wait until your sick leave is exhausted. As such, the Social Security Disability claim should be filed immediately provided that you believe that your illness will keep you out of work for a year or more. Again, we can help with the claim process.

Since I’m collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits,
can a claim for Social Security Disability also be filed?

It depends on various factors. Fortunately however our office can handle both of your claims if necessary. Accordingly, feel free to contact our office for a free
no obligation case evaluation.

Can I get both Workers’ Compensation and
Social Security Disability Benefits?

In certain circumstances yes. Our law office can represent you for both types of claims, feel free to contact us to analyze your particular situation. In some cases there is an offset, which reduces either the Social Security Disability benefits or the Workers’ Compensation benefits paid, but not both.

How can I tell if I will be found disabled by Social Security?

Unless your disability is catastrophic (such as terminal cancer, a heart condition so bad that you are on a heart transplant waiting list, total paralysis of both legs, etc.), there is no easy way for you to tell. Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A. however is quite familiar with Social Security Disability and can therefore make an informed legal opinion as to whether or not you have a strong case for receiving benefits. Even if initially denied, you should consult with our law firm as soon as possible. Unfortunately many people simply give up once they are turned down. Generally speaking, most individuals will have to wait for their day in court before the Judge before they are ultimately awarded benefits. As such, let our law firm do our best in getting the previous denials overturned!

Can you receive Social Security Disability benefits for any type of disease?

In almost every case, it just depends upon how badly you are affected by it. Specifically, how sick is the particular individual and for how long is this person going to remain unable to work? Thus, almost without exception, the mere fact that an individual has a specific disease does not guarantee that they will be found disabled. Our legal team however can give you insight as to which diseases are more likely than not to help with the disability claim.

Do you have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security benefits?

No. You have to have been disabled for at least a year, be expected to be disabled for at least a year and or have a condition that can be expected to result in death within a year.

I have several health problems but none of them disables me individually. Can the combination of all of my conditions however allow me to receive Social Security Disability benefits?

Social Security is supposed to consider the combination of impairments that an individual suffers in determining disability. Many, perhaps most claimants for Social Security Disability benefits have more than one health problem and the combined effects of all of the health problems must be considered. Evan can therefore try to get your physicians to recognize that fact when completing the necessary Social Security Disability forms which strengthens the case.

Having been injured in an accident and disabled, if I’m expecting to return to work shortly, should a claim be filed for Social Security Disability benefits?

We may be able to handle both of your claims if applicable. Accordingly, feel free to contact our office for a free no obligation case evaluation. If you expect to be out of work for a year or more on account of illness or injury, you should definitely file for Social Security Disability benefits. Should you however return to work earlier than expected, the claim can simply be withdrawn and without cost to you!

How does Social Security determine if I am disabled?

Social Security gathers your medical records and carefully considers all of your health problems, as well as your age, education and past work experience. In general, they must decide whether you or not you are able to perform your past work despite your medical conditions. If you are unable to do so, they then look as to whether or not there are any other types of employment which you could do considering your situation. If not, you may be found as disabled.

Who decides one’s disability?

After an individual files a Social Security Disability claim, the case is sent to a disability examiner for review. They along with working with a Social Security appointed doctor, makes the initial decision. If its denied and the applicant requests a Reconsideration, the file is then sent to another disability examiner where the process is simply repeated. If its denied for a second time, the claimant may then request a Social Security Hearing to be heard by an Administrative Law Judge. At this point it is very important to hire Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A. to represent you further as its not wise to appear before the Judge alone. He/she then issues a decision based upon the review of the medical records, physicians testimony, various Social Security forms, vocational experts and their job analysis, your testimony and legal argument by counsel. Of course our law firm will act as your advocate in trying to state why the court should legally find you disabled.

Why does Social Security consider my age in determining if I am disabled?

Social Security must consider the age of the applicant because that is one factor of the law. As people get older they become less adaptable to switching to other occupations and or able to cope with health problems. A severe foot injury which might cause a 30-year-old to switch to a job in which he or she can sit down most of the time, might disable a 60-year-old person who could not make the adjustment to a different type of work.

Is there a list of illnesses that Social Security considers disabling?

Not really. Since most types of illness can vary from minor to severe, there is no one simple list of illnesses which is used in making a decision. If an illness however has reached a very severe level with certain medical hallmarks, Social Security will award benefits on the basis of medical considerations alone.

What can I do to improve my chances of winning the
Social Security Disability claim?

Be honest and complete in giving information about what is disabling you. Many claimants, for instance, fail to mention their psychiatric problems because they are embarrassed about them. Additionally, you should continue to fight for your benefits even if denied multiple times. Moreover, the hiring an experienced law firm like Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A. as soon as possible after filing the claim of your case is of great importance. Consequently, claimants who employ an attorney are much more likely to win than those who do not.

How do I find an attorney to represent me
on my Social Security Disability claim?

Please contact Evan and his staff for a free no obligation case evaluation at
(866) I SUE YOU, (866) 478-3968, (954) 227-7529, evan@attorney4life.com.

If I am approved for Social Security Disability benefits, how much will I get?

It really just depends on how much you have worked and earned in the past. You should therefore ask the Social Security Administration for a copy of your earnings statement which will provide that information. For disabled widow’s or widower’s benefits, it depends on how much the late husband or wife worked and earned. For disabled adult child benefits, it all depends on how much the parent worked and earned. For all types of SSI benefits, there is a base amount that an individual with no other income receives. Other income that an individual has reduces the amount of SSI which an individual can receive.

How far back will they pay benefits if I am found disabled?

For Disability Insurance Benefits and for Disabled Widow’s and Widower’s Benefits, the benefits cannot begin until five months have passed after the person becomes disabled. In addition, benefits cannot be paid more than one year prior to the date of the claim. For a Disabled Adult Child, there is no five-month waiting period before benefits begin, but benefits cannot be paid more than six months prior to the date of the claim. SSI benefits cannot be paid prior to the start of the month following the date of the claim.

What if Social Security denies my claim for disability benefits?

First, do not be surprised. Only about 40% of Social Security Disability claims are approved at the initial level. If you are denied, unless you have already returned to work or expect to return to work in the near future, you should immediately file an appeal by asking for a request for reconsideration. Accordingly, by hiring us increases your chance of success. Moreover, our firm can help streamline the process and rid some of the stress involved of the system!

Why does Social Security turn down so many claims for disability benefits?

Oftentimes there is no simple answer to determine whether an individual is disabled or not. Moreover, over the years Social Security has been more concerned with making sure that everyone who is receiving benefits is “truly” disabled. Congress has always believed that, given a chance, many people will “fake” disability in order to get benefits. After contacting our law firm for a free case evaluation, we will let you know immediately if your case is even strong enough to proceed.

I only want to get back the money that was put into Social Security.
Why do they make it so difficult to receive benefits?

Actually, when you file a disability claim, you are not trying to just get “your own money” back. The money that an individual may have paid into the system over the years through working would not last very long if that was the case.

What is “reconsideration”?

When a claim for Social Security Disability benefits is denied at the initial level, the claimant may then request “reconsideration” of that decision, The case is then sent to a different disability examiner for a new decision. Unfortunately, about 80% of the time the reconsideration decision is the same as the initial decision – a denial. That’s why it is very important to hire us earlier rather than later in the appeal process. We can therefore use the extra time to better prepare your case to be tried (and won) in from of the Judge.

Who makes the reconsideration determination?

A disability examiner at the Disability Determination section makes the reconsideration determination. Most of the time, the claimant does not actually see the examiner or even know his or her name; talk about an impersonal process! Evan and his law team, do not treat their clients simply as social security numbers.

What are my chances of winning at reconsideration?

Statistically, about 20% of the time a claimant wins at reconsideration. Why don’t you increase your chances at success? Claimants who employ an attorney are much more likely to win than those who do not.

Do I have to go through reconsideration?

Yes. If you want to appeal a denial of Social Security Disability benefits, you have to go through reconsideration process.

How long does it take to get a hearing on a Social Security Disability claim?

There is much variation. As such, it can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year. Under some limited emergency circumstances however the Judge can schedule it earlier.

What is the Social Security hearing like?

The hearings are fairly informal. The only people likely to be there are the Judge, court reporter, the claimant, the claimant’s attorney and anyone else the claimant has brought with him or her. In some cases, the Administrative Law Judge has a medical doctor or vocational expert present to testify at the hearing. There is no jury nor any attorney representing the Social Security Administration.  Furthermore, spectators are not permitted.

What are my chances of winning at a hearing?

Statistically, claimants who hire an attorney before the hearing greatly increases their chances of winning. If the Administrative Law Judge denies my claim, you can still fight that decision to the Appeals Council which governs Social Security determinations’ we also handles many such appeals. Feel free to contact us to determine if we can assist with it.

What is the Appeals Council?

The Appeals Council exists to review Administrative Law Judge decisions. Located in Virginia, neither the claimant nor their attorney appears before them during this appeal process.

Can I appeal a Judge’s denial to the Federal Court?

Yes. After being denied by the Appeals Council, it is possible for a claimant to file a civil action in the United States District Court, requesting review of Social Security’s final decision. As such, a claim can go all the way to the Supreme Court.

I am receiving Social Security Disability benefits but later and want to return to work, can I?

Certainly. Social Security wants individuals drawing disability benefits to return to work and gives them every encouragement to do so. For persons receiving Disability Insurance benefits, Disabled Widow’s and Widower’s benefits and Disabled Adult Child benefits, full benefits may continue for a year after an individual returns to work. Even thereafter, an individual who has to stop work in the following three years can get back on Social Security Disability benefits immediately without having to file a new claim. In SSI cases, things work a differently, but there is still a strong encouragement to return to work. Of course you should contact Evan and his legal team before making your decision. We can tell you the plus and minuses before making your decision.

Where can I go for assistance with my Social Security Disability claim?

Contact us at (866) I SUE YOU, (866) 478-3968, (954) 227-7529, evan@attorney4life.com; we handle these matters on a regular basis.

Do I really have to hire a lawyer to represent me in my Social Security claim?

No, you can go through all of the levels of review on your own. Statistically speaking however, claimants who are represented by attorneys win a good deal more often than those who are not.

How does my lawyer get paid?

Evan only accepts these cases on a contingency basis. That means we do not request money up front for any attorney’s fees. Moreover in almost all cases, the attorney receives 25% of the past due back benefits if the claimant wins; the law firm’s costs however are paid separately to the attorney directly by the claimant upon the favorable award.

Can alcoholics and or drug addicts really get Social Security Disability benefits?

Not anymore as Congress has now prohibited Social Security from paying disability benefits solely on the basis of those underlying conditions­.

I know someone who is on Social Security Disability. He/she however does not look disabled. Why do they put all of these “freeloaders” on benefits?

When it comes to disability, looks can be very deceiving. There are many people who look quite healthy but who are quite disabled by anyone’s standard. For instance, many individuals who suffer from very severe psychiatric illness are physically healthy and able to do things such as mow their yards.

Unfortunately have never worked but am nevertheless disabled, can
Social Security Disability benefits still be awarded?

If you are disabled and do not have many assets, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI), even if you have never worked in the past. It is also possible to qualify for Disabled Adult Child benefits on the account of a parent if you became disabled before age 22 or for disabled widow’s or widower’s benefits on the account of a late husband or wife.

Am a disabled widow and have not worked in many years, can I still get Social Security Disability benefits?

If you are over 50 and became disabled within seven years after your husband or wife died or within seven years after you last drew mother’s or father’s benefits from Social Security, you can get Disabled Widow’s or Widower’s benefits. Perhaps more importantly, if you have few assets, you may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits no matter what age you are or when you became disabled.

I have a child who has been disabled since birth that has never worked.
Can he/she receive Social Security Disability benefits?

Very possibly, if the child is under 18 and you has few assets, the child may in fact for SSI Child’s Disability benefits. If the child is over 18, she may be able to qualify for SSI disability benefits without regard to the income of her parents. If her father or mother is drawing Social Security of some type or is deceased, the child may be eligible for disabled adult child benefits.

I ‘m already receiving Social Security Disability benefits, but am worried that they may be stopped in the future. What are the chances of this happening?

Social Security is not supposed to cut off disability benefits for an individual unless his or her medical condition has improved. When Social Security reviews a case of someone already receiving benefits, they continue in the vast majority of cases. In recent years however, Social Security has been doing case reviews to determine whether or not individuals already on benefits are in fact still disabled.

If Social Security tries to cut off my disability benefits, what can I do?

You should appeal immediately! If you do so within 10 days of being notified, you can nevertheless request that the checks continue while the appeal is pending. You may also want to talk to Evan and his staff about representation on your case.

My doctor says I am disabled, so why is Social Security denying my claim?

Perhaps your doctors did not complete the required forms correctly? Was certain medical evidence omitted? Were all of your disabling conditions made known?
Of course The Law Offices of Evan M. Ostfeld can therefore assist.

The Veterans Administration says I am disabled, so why is Social Security denying my claim?

It is Social Security’s position that Veteran Administration’s decisions are not binding since the agencies use very different standards for approving disability claims. Nevertheless, we can use your medical records from the VA case to help prove the Social Security claim.

I am 60% disabled. Do I get 60% of my Social Security Disability benefits?

No, there are no applicable percentages of disability in Social Security cases. Simply put, you are either disabled or not. In Veteran Administration’s claims however, percentages of disability are assigned in their disability claims.

If a person is disabled by mental illness, can it therefore serve as the basis for a Social Security Disability claim?

Yes. Mental illness is a frequent and very strong basis for awarding Social Security Disability benefits since it may impact your ability to perform any type of sustained employment.

Will it help if I ask my Congressional Representative to help me get
Social Security Disability benefits?

Many Social Security Disability claimants become frustrated with claim delays and eventually ask their U.S. Representative or Senator to help. Their local offices typically will have staffers who are experienced with Social Security procedures and personnel. A “Congressional Inquiry,” may help to get the stalled process but will have no impact on how the case is decided.

When should I expect Social Security to make an initial decision and or reconsideration of my claim?

In most cases, Social Security makes the first decision within four months; another four months for the Reconsideration level.

How long does it take for Social Security to act upon a request for
Appeals Council review?

About a year, perhaps longer.

I am disabled and cannot pay my various medical bills and medications.
Is there any assistance while the claim is proceeding?

Unfortunately no. Getting help with these bills is usually tied up with getting benefits. That is, you don’t start getting any financial assistance until after a favorable award is made granting you disability benefits. After that time (and the required waiting period) you may later receive Medicare benefits.

What is the difference between Medicaid and Medicare?

Medicaid is a state based run program that offers assistance to people with few assets. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older or younger persons with certain disabilities. Many disabled people receive Medicaid because they are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To get SSI and Medicaid, you must have few assets and be disabled. For Medicare, your assets do not mater. If you have been receiving Disability Insurance benefits, Disabled Widow’s or Widower’s benefits or Disabled Adult Child benefits for 24 months, you qualify for Medicare. That means for persons who are awarded disability benefits, they still must wait before they can enroll.

If I receive Social Security Disability benefits, will I also get Medicare?

Yes. Once approved for any kind of Social Security Disability benefits other than SSI, you will get Medicare after two years.

What about Medicaid benefits?

Possibly. If you are approved for SSI, you will get Medicaid.
Sometimes a disabled person can obtain both Medicare and Medicaid.

Law Offices of Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A.
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5421 N. University Drive, Suite #102
Coral Springs, FL 33067-4638

Law Offices of Evan M. Ostfeld, P.A.
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Houston, TX 77007-5042

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