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DISABILITY FAQS

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Social Security Disability FAQs

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Qualifying for Disability Benefits

Are mental illnesses eligible for disability benefits?

Yes. Mental illnesses are often used as a basis for getting Social Security disability benefits. Find out if you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits today!

How can I improve my chances of winning my Social Security Disability claim?

First, be honest and thorough when reporting your condition to Social Security. People are sometimes embarrassed to report psychological difficulties or learning disabilities, even though both can be important factors in receiving benefits. When you fill out the forms regarding your limitations, make sure you let them know not only what you can do, but also what you cannot do. If there is an activity in which you sometimes can do, but not always, make sure you tell them. If there is an activity which you can do, but differently than before your medical condition arose, let them know that as well.

Hiring a lawyer will also improve your chances if you have to appeal Social Security’s denial to a Judge; Social Security’s own numbers show that people with legal counsel are more likely to win benefits. Contact our office. We’d be happy to talk.

What are the important deadlines I need to watch?

INITIAL FILING – You should make your initial application to Social Security as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, the backlog, especially once the case gets to an Administrative Law Judge, is enormous right now.

While the backlog differs from location to location, there are almost no locations that have less than a one year backlog from the point the appeal is taken to the hearing before the Judge. In some areas that backlog is approaching – and sometimes even over – two years. We urge you to file as soon as possible.

APPEAL – The next important deadline is the appeal. If your initial claim is denied (and most are), you’ll have only 65 days from the date of your decision letter, to file an appeal with Social Security. If you don’t file an appeal within 65 days, you give up your rights to the appeal process. Even worse, you’ll have to start the application process all over again. We strongly recommend you engage an attorney to help you file your appeal.

FEDERAL APPEAL – A Federal appeal is taken if both the Administrative Law Judge says no and the next level of Appeal to the Council refuses to review that unfavorable decision from that Administrative Law Judge. There’s very little leeway in terms of filing that federal appeal which must be done within 65 days from the date of the Appeal’s Council refusal(you are allowed 60 days and they assume that their appeal gets to you within 5 days).

In addition, the Federal Appeal takes the attorney some time so that if you receive an Appeals Council refusal to review an Administrative Law Judge decision, you should contact an attorney immediately. Not every case is taken to the Federal District Court, so often the attorney will need some significant time to review the case to determine whether the attorney believes that it can be brought successfully in the Federal Court.

Applying for Disability Benefits

How long does it take to get my disability benefits once a claim for benefits is filed?

It can take approximately four months to receive a decision on your initial application. If your application is denied, it can take an additional year and a half to get a decision as your claim works its way through the appeals process. However, certain circumstances can shorten that time period, so let our attorneys determine if any are applicable to your case.

Does my age matter when trying to receive disability benefits?

Yes. The Social Security Administration looks at age as one of the factors when determining disability. The administration evaluates age as follows:

  • 18-49 is a younger worker
  • 50-54 is closely approaching advanced age
  • 55-59 is advanced age
  • 60-64 is closely approaching retirement age.

The Social Security Administration’s rules take into consideration that as people get older, they become less adaptable, less able to switch to different jobs to cope with health problems.

If I applied but was denied, what should I do?

Now you file a written request for reconsideration within 60 days of the denial notice. After receiving a denial letter, there are four levels of review: Reconsideration, Hearing, Appeals Council, and Federal Court.

If you were denied, we strongly recommend you contact an attorney. The appeals process is complex so you should contact someone who knows the law of the Social Security system.

Denied Disability Benefits

I was denied. Should I appeal?

You should definitely appeal. We can help you get started with your appeal by filing a written request for reconsideration within 60 days of your denial notice. After that, there are four levels of review: Reconsideration, Hearing, Appeals Council, and Federal Court.

My doctor says I’m disabled so why is Social Security denying my disability claim?

It is not up to your doctor to determine whether you are disabled. It is up to Social Security to make their own decision, but your doctor’s opinion definitely helps.

Social Security said that I would be able to return to work. Should I wait to see if my health improves or should I appeal?

You have a limited time to appeal your initial denial – don’t wait to see if your health improves. Contact Lachman & Gorton today. Let our experience help win you the benefits you deserve.

If I received notice that I will have a hearing, what should I do?

At this point, it’s best to contact an attorney to represent you at your hearing. An attorney can gather all the medical evidence and records necessary for you to have the best chance of winning disability benefits. Social Security’s own statistics show that you are more likely to win disability benefits when represented by an attorney.

Will Lachman & Gorton represent me at a hearing if one is necessary?

Yes. If you were denied disability benefits, call us right away. We’ll look over your medical records and work history and set a strategy to help prove that you’re disabled. If you have a hearing scheduled, we’ll help you gather all your evidence and make the case before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that you deserve disability benefits.

If I lose my case after my hearing, can a lawyer still help me?

Yes. A lawyer can help you file a civil action in the United States District Court or appeal your claim to the United States Court of Appeals.

At Lachman & Gorton, we’re with you at each stage of your claim. Should you lose your case during your hearing, we can help appeal in Federal Court by submitting written legal arguments and attending oral arguments if necessary.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program for people with little or no income or resources that have not paid enough money into the Social Security system to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

If you have a disability and have not paid enough into Social Security, you may qualify for SSI. The monthly amount for SSI is based on financial need and determined by several factors including household income, your entitlement to SSD benefits, long-term disability benefits and/or Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Working With a Disability Attorney

Why do I need a lawyer to help me? Why should I hire Lachman & Gorton?

The Social Security Disability system is laced with pitfalls and involves thousands of different rules, regulations, and procedures. You can be denied benefits if your doctor doesn’t know the legal definition of disability. You can also be denied benefits if Social Security doesn’t receive enough evidence on your behalf. Your case can be dismissed altogether if an appeal is handled improperly.

An experienced attorney who knows the Social Security system can help your doctor explain your disability to you, submit important supporting medical evidence, analyze each part of your Social Security file, prepare your testimony before a court hearing, and even cross-examine medical experts who may testify at your case hearing.

Is Lachman & Gorton very experienced in Social Security Disability?

We’ve helped thousands of people win disability benefits. We have the experience necessary to help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Call us today.

How much does it cost to hire Lachman & Gorton for my Social Security Disability claim?

The law regulates attorneys’ fees in Social Security Disability cases. So virtually every disability lawyer works on the same fee basis. The lawyer’s fee is 25% of the past due disability benefits you get. There is no fee if you don’t win.

National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives
United States District Court of Northern and Western Districts
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Broome County Bar Association
New York State Bar Association
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