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Quick Answers to Your Top Questions About Social Security Disability

Wayne Wright LLP keeps our clients and the public informed. We provide answers to frequently asked questions to help our clients face their own legal battles. Contact Wayne Wright LLP to speak with an experienced injury attorney in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, El Paso, or Austin offices. We will schedule a free case review and answer your specific questions. Our law firm will not stop working until you receive the justice you deserve.

Please click one of the following categories of our Frequently Asked Questions:

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  • What is Social Security disability insurance, and who is eligible? What should I do if my SSDI claim is denied?

    Social Security disability insurance, or SSDI, is a government safety net program designed to provide financial support to people who have suffered a severe and permanent injury or illness that leaves them unable to work. SSDI will provide monthly benefits equal to a portion of the recipient’s prior income, up to a certain limit. Every year the program gives about $143 billion dollars to over 11 billion Americans who can no longer support themselves. SSDI is funded primarily through payroll taxes.

    Starting the SSDI Application Process

    Before you begin, be aware that applying for SSDI is not a task to be taken lightly. The application process has been known to take months or even years, and a single missed deadline can restart the clock. A successful claim takes time and patience.

    Your first step is to determine whether you may be eligible for SSDI at all. In order to qualify, you must be “unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

    You must not only be unable to perform the duties of your previous job, but also be unable to participate in any other work, either. However, this does not actually prevent you from receiving relatively small amounts of money, such as from a part-time, low-wage job: the maximum SGA income limit for 2016 is $1,130 per month for non-blind individuals, and $1,820 per month for the blind.

    You must also have worked and paid taxes for a number of years to achieve a minimum number of “work credits.” The exact number of credits you need to be eligible depends on your age and whether or not you are blind. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a web page that outlines the basics of the credit system, or you can ask your SSDI attorney for more details.

    Qualifying Disabilities

    The SSA’s definition of “disability” may not necessarily be the same as your physician’s. The Social Security Administration maintains a list of conditions that it will accept as severe enough to warrant acceptance. There is also a new “Compassionate Allowance” program, which is a list of conditions that receive automatic approval and immediate processing. These conditions are typically either especially severe, or carry an extreme likelihood of imminent death, and includes such diseases as:

    • Childhood leukemia
    • Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
    • Certain cancers
    • Lewy body dementia

    If your condition is not on either of these lists—and many conditions are not—the Social Security Administration will want to make a determination about whether or not your condition is as severe as other conditions that are on the list. You’ll have to prove your case to the SSA in order to succeed with your claim.

    Providing Evidence to Support Your Claim

    When filing for a disability claim, you will want to provide the SSA with as much evidence as possible to support your position. Good records showing routine and ongoing medical care by qualified professionals are important. Your doctor’s opinion regarding your seriousness of your condition, your physical or mental limitations, and your long-term prognosis will also play a big part in the SSA’s determination. Sources of evidence that the Social Security Administration may use includes information from:

    • Licensed doctors, psychologists, optometrists, or podiatrists
    • Treatment facility records, such as Clinics, hospitals, or any other place you’ve sought help
    • Employer records
    • Information from social workers or other caregivers

    This is not an exhaustive list of sources that the SSA will look to for evidence to support or deny your claim, but it’s best to be prepared ahead of time by having as much information as possible available. Even if you don’t need it now, you may need it later for a hearing, or an appeal if your initial claim isn’t successful.

    Initial Claims Are Regularly Denied

    Having an SSDI claim denied is extremely common: the SSA’s own data shows that only 36% of claims were approved in the 2004 to 2013 period. Only about one-quarter of claims were given benefits after the initial filing, and 2% were approved with appeal. A further 11% were approved with a hearing.

    Don’t be discouraged if your initial claim is denied. Many people who have become disabled and unable to work still secure the benefits that they are owed. The process takes time, but when your claim gets approved, benefits are retroactive to the date of the initial filing.

    Get Help With Your Claim Today

    It’s important to know that if your initial claim is denied, you can get help with your appeal. A legal professional who is familiar with SSDI claims can help you figure out what you need to do so that you have the best chance to succeed. Wayne Wright LLP has been down this road many times before, and we know how to help you. For a free case evaluation, call us at 800-237-3334.

  • Is there a deadline for filing a request for reconsideration after a disability claim denial?

    When filing an application for Social Security disability benefits, there is a reasonably high chance that the claim may initially be denied. On average, about two out of every three disability applications are denied. Fortunately, this does not have to be the end of the road when it comes to obtaining the benefits that you need. Filing a request for reconsideration is an important next step. For this request to be successful, however, you must file prior to the appropriate deadline.

     

    Deadlines Relating to Requests for Reconsideration

    What deadlines may apply to your request? The following is an overview:

    • The request must be filed before the 60-day appeal deadline. This request is made by contacting your local Social Security disability benefits office or the office where your claim was initially filed. The 60 days begins running from the date of the denial of the disability application.
       
    • Five additional days may be added to the appeal deadline in order to account for mail delivery time when filing your request for reconsideration.
       
    • Within 10 to 14 days after filing your request for reconsideration, contact Social Security to confirm that that request was received. If you fail to do so, you run the risk of a late appeal.


    Paying attention to deadlines is just one aspect of successfully appealing a denial of an application for disability benefits. Hiring an experienced attorney can help to ensure that these important deadlines are met. We strongly encourage you to reach out for guidance from a knowledgeable attorney. Our office is available for your assistance whenever you need us, any time of the day or night.
     

  • How long do I have to appeal a Social Security disability denial?

    If you disagree with the decision the Social Security Administration (SSA) has given, you must officially request a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Generally speaking, a claimant has 60 days from the date of his denial to appeal a Social Security disability decision. If you are unsure of the date, it is typically printed on the denial letter, or you may contact the Social Security office for an exact date.

     

    However, there are a few ways to extend the deadline of your appeal, including:

    • Mailing time. Depending on where you live, it can take up to a week to send a Request for Hearing by postal mail. For this reason, the Social Security office will usually allow an extra five days before the deadline expires to allow for mailing time.
    • “Good cause.” If the deadline for filing your appeal has already passed, you may be able to get an extension if you can demonstrate good cause for your delay. However, you must have a very good reason for delaying your appeal, such as extreme illness, incapacitation, hospitalization, mental illness, or similar circumstances beyond your control. If you are unable to demonstrate good reason, your request for late appeal will likely be denied.

    What If My Appeal Deadline Has Already Passed?

    In most cases, applicants will have to file a new disability claim if they are unable to convince an administrative law judge to grant them an extension. This will involve gathering all of your medical records and starting over at the beginning of the claims process, further lengthening your wait time for approval. Our attorneys can look into the details of your case to determine if you qualify for appeal, and help can help you rebuild your case to get you the benefits you deserve. Click the contact link on this page to find out how we can help.
     

  • What do I have to do if Wayne Wright LLP represents me during my Social Security Disability claim?

     

    • Keep in touch ~ if you move or change your phone numbers, let us know.
    • Be honest with us ~ We need to know all the facts to give you the best advice and representation possible.
    • Let us know if Social Security contacts you ~ call us if you get mail from SSA that you don't understand. Some items need to be filled out by you but we will assist you with the paperwork and will explain the process.
    • Tell us about changes in your health or medical treatment ~ tell us if your condition changes or if you see other doctors so that we can obtain your medical records and gather the evidence we need to submit to Social Security.

     

  • How long will it take for me to get my Social Security benefits?

    • This is a very slow process. However, our team's experience with the Social Security Administration will make this process smoother for you.
    • If you have just applied for benefits, it may take 60-90 days just to receive the initial decision, which is often a denial. There may be another 60-day appeal deadline and another 60-90 days for a decision. It could take 12-18 months or longer for a hearing date. Depending on individual circumstances, a case could take two years or more before a decision.

     

  • How much Social Security will I get?

    • Your "back-pay" depends on many things
    • Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB): To be eligible for DIB, you must have earned enough "credits." The credits are based on how long you worked and how recently you worked. We will be happy to give you the specifics. If you have not worked in the past 6 years you may not be eligible for DIB, but you may still qualify for SSI benefits!
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): To be eligible for SSI, your income must be below the amount set by Social Security. Your eligibility for SSI is based on your household income, assets, and the number of dependants living in your household. The U.S. Congress sets limits on SSI pay for individuals and couples.

  • Why do I need Wayne Wright LLP for my Social Security Disability claim?

    • LawOur #1 objective is to win your case.
    • We are professional, diligent and very successful with our Social Security cases.
    • We have experience and a proven track record. We have an excellent reputation with the judges and staff at the Office of Disability Adjudication Review and the Social Security Administration.
    • We will give you an honest opinion about whether or not we can help you.
    • We work our cases. We will fully develop your case to increase your chances of winning.
    • We will make sure you get a fair trial.

  • What will my Social Security Disability claim cost?

    • Nothing up-front ~ your initial consultation is free.
    • Nothing if we don't win ~ you do not owe us a fee. Social Security must approve any fee. The SSA approved fee is currently 25% of the past due benefits, and is currently capped at $6,000; therefore, the attorney fee is either 25% of the past due benefit or $6,000 whichever amount is less! 

     

  • Why do I need legal representation for my Social Security Disability claim?

    • Deadlines and Paperwork ~ You will be dealing with a large governmental bureaucracy and the process is time consuming. The Social Security Administration requires you to file precise paperwork with the proper department by their deadlines. Most initial applications are denied. Each appeal must be filed using the proper form and meeting the deadline. You can be denied for missing a deadline regardless of your disability.
    • Proof of Disability ~ You must prove you are disabled under Social Security's definitions of disability.
    • Hearing Advocate ~ Most people win their cases at the hearing level. This means you must present your case before a judge. Medical and vocational experts will testify and you may not have the expertise to cross-examine them.