Disability Lawyers Aid Your SSI & SSDI Claims
“But Social Security is for retired people!”
It’s a common misconception that Social Security is only for the retired when, in reality, it is also for the disabled of all ages. There are actually two government programs for the disabled, and both require the same medical documentation of your disabling condition(s). To be considered disabled under Social Security Regulations, you must have a disability either physical, mental, or a combination of both, but it must have lasted or be expected to last 12 consecutive months or more, or result in death. If a disability fitting that description results in your inability to work, you should apply for government benefits – but don’t do it alone! Experienced disability lawyers – like the ones serving Phoenix, AZ at Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC – can help you make sense of your eligibility, which disability program suits your situation, and how to get the maximum benefits possible, as fast as possible.
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSD, SSDI, Disability):
If you’ve been working and paying into Social Security, and are then sidelined with a disability, Social Security Disability Insurance may be a safety net for you. This government program presumes you have worked recently – in fact, to be eligible, you must have worked for 5 of the 10 years before you became disabled. As the name implies, this program is designed to be an insurance policy and has an expiration date. This is the reason that recent work is required to be able to receive these benefits. Moreover, since government programs run on paperwork, your medical condition must be documented through ongoing medical care and treatment to receive benefits.
If approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you will receive a check for each month that you continue to qualify. If you have children under the age of 18 still attending school, they will also receive a monthly check. Since it is based solely on disability, there is no income or resource limitation to this program, and eligibility for Medicare coverage is also a possibility.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
If you don’t qualify for disability insurance, Supplemental Security Income could provide you with the necessary benefits. This program is for those adults who have never worked or who have not worked enough, as well as for children who are disabled. Like SSDI, you must have a medical condition documented through ongoing medical care and treatment to receive benefits.
However, unlike SSDI, there are resource and income limitations to this program, which means if you have income from sources other than work, you may not qualify even if disabled. Moreover, the income of parents is used in the case of children. Nonetheless, there are many ways to reduce the impact of income and resources allowed under the law. Eligibility for AHCCCS (Medicaid) is a possibility with this program. Because of these variables, it’s crucial to consult a disability lawyer to help you present the best case for receiving SSI.
How is disability determined?
For both programs, you must have a medically determinable condition, which prevents you from working on a sustained basis. In the case of children, work is not considered, but the ability to function compared with other children is substituted. As mentioned with both SSDI and SSI, this means you must have documented medical care and treatment on an ongoing basis for your condition.
Of course, most disabled persons have more than one condition, so a combination of conditions is considered. For instance, high blood pressure may not be disabling but, when combined with a serious heart condition, might qualify you for benefits. There are special rules for the blind or severely vision impaired. A physical ailment combined with mental health issues may also qualify you for benefits. These are only examples, your combination of conditions will be different.
The factors that determine disability are:
- Are you working?
- Is your medical condition(s) severe?
- Does your medical condition meet or equal a listing as defined by Social Security?
- Can you do the work you did before you became sick?
- Can you do any type of work?
Each case is different, just as each person is different, and Dyer Bregman & Ferris’s Social Security lawyers understand that. You should not compare your situation with that of anyone else. Remember, most disabilities are not visible, such as a missing arm or leg, but that does not mean a disability does not exist. If you are unable to work, you should consult a disability attorney and apply for benefits.
How does the process work?
Most cases have 3 steps: Application, Reconsideration, and Hearing.
There are 3 ways to apply for benefits: you can request a telephone interview; visit your local Social Security office; or file online. To file an application online, click here. To visit your local office, click here. To request a telephone interview, call 1-800-772-1213.
The Social Security Administration has done a very good job of making their programs available online, with strong, built-in security measures to ensure privacy. However, filing for disability benefits online is still not easy for everyone. You must have all the information available at the time of application, and be able to read and answer the online questions without a delay of more than 25 minutes. For this reason, Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC, suggests that the application be filed by telephone interview. However, because Social Security prefers the application be filed online if you know someone who can help with the online filing of your application, you should use that method.
No matter which method you choose, there are several forms that need to be completed. These forms are long and ask many, many questions, but the most important form is the Disability Report, which requires all your medical information. Because decisions are based on medical conditions, the information you provide on this form will either make a decision easier or more difficult. In short, the more information, the better.
Once all the medical information is collected, a decision will be made. If your SSDI or SSI case is approved, your local office will contact you regarding payment of benefits. If your case is denied, don’t worry; it’s not the end. You can and should appeal the decision. DO NOT simply file a new application, because you will give up certain rights if you do not appeal.
This is the first appeal of the denial of your Application. You will need to complete a couple of forms, with the most important being a Disability Report-Appeal. This is similar to the form you completed at the Application step, but is just as important, since you will need to provide all your medical information again, even if you put the same information on the form the first time. You will also include anything that is new or different, to help strengthen your case.
As with the Application, if your claim is approved, your local office will contact you regarding payment of benefits, and if your claim is denied, you should appeal. Likewise, DO NOT simply file a new application, because you will give up certain rights if you do not appeal.
At this stage in the process, you will request an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hold a hearing at which you will testify about your case. Again, you will complete the same form with all your medical information as you did at the Reconsideration level. The difference here is that you will appear at a hearing and talk directly with the person who will make the decision about your disability. Up to this point, you have not had that opportunity; decisions were made based on what you wrote and what your medical providers put in your records. Being able to appear before a Judge is important because you have the opportunity to explain in detail how and why you are unable to work. This step gives you the best chance of winning your case.
Let’s face it, Social Security is a governmental program, and by its nature is confusing, intimidating, and time-consuming. There are many twists and turns, pitfalls, and roadblocks, which deter many from even filing for benefits. This is a mistake. There is no cost to file an application and no cost to withdraw an application, so you have nothing to lose by filing. It is not uncommon for disabled persons to wait months, even years, before filing, only to find out that they waited too long. Don’t let this happen to you! If you have been unable to work for 6 or more months, contact a disability lawyer and file your application right away. Getting through the 3 steps outlined above will take a very long time, so the sooner you start the process, the sooner you will begin receiving your benefits.
You can hire an attorney at any stage. In some cases, it is simply so overwhelming that even completing the paperwork to file an Application is impossible, so hiring a Social Security lawyer is the answer. Even if you do not hire an attorney until you have been denied at least once, you should contact a disability lawyer who specializes in Social Security. In other words, you should contact Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC. Our Phoenix, AZ attorneys and staff have a combined more than 50 years’ experience working with disability issues, including Social Security Disability, Social Security Supplemental Security Income, and VA Disability.
“I don’t have any money to hire an attorney”
No problem! You don’t need money to hire an attorney in a Social Security case. The attorney will only be paid when your case is won. When you win your case, you will receive past-due benefits and the attorney will be paid from those past-due benefits. The fee MUST be approved by Social Security and will be the smaller of 25% of all past-due benefits but no more than $6,000.00 in most cases. Social Security pays the attorney directly and you are notified by Social Security of the amount paid. You are then only responsible for the costs incurred by the attorney for medical records, office expenses, etc.
Why Hire an Attorney?
- Experience matters, especially since most disabled persons have never filed before.
The professionals at Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC, are happy to speak with you over the phone, and when you call our office, you will immediately speak with the person who will oversee the processing of your case. Your attorney will also be actively involved at every stage, helping to maneuver your case through the process. Although you will work closely with the Legal Assistant most of the time, your attorney is always available to speak with you. With over 50 years’ combined experience, Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC, has more Social Security proficiency than most law firms in Phoenix and the Valley area.
- Personal attention to your case is key.
If your attorney has never met you, how can you be sure the attorney is familiar with the details of your medical condition, case, and living situation? Every client deserves to meet with his or her attorney prior to the day of the hearing. At Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC, you not only meet with your attorney at the beginning of your case but, once a hearing is scheduled, will have a lengthy Pre-Hearing Conference to prepare you for the hearing. If you are not able to come into our office, we can prepare you for the hearing over the phone. It is this personal attention that sets Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC, apart from most other law firms.
- Social Security is confusing, intimidating, and time-consuming.
From the lengthy forms and official documents to the potential roadblocks and obstacles that crop up along the way, even starting the process of applying for benefits can feel impossible. Only an experienced team can help smooth the way and guide you through the proceedings. There are deadlines to meet, forms to complete, appointments to keep, and timelines that can overwhelm anyone. Let Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC, deal with all the intricacies of your claim, so you can focus on your medical condition and treatment.
Our Disability Lawyers Get You the Benefits You Deserve!
Whether you’re applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income, or going through the appeals process, the committed and experienced disability attorneys at Dyer Bregman & Ferris, PLLC, can answer all your questions, handle all the twists and turns, and get you your much-needed benefits. We know your disability, your situation, and your application is unique, so we will give your case our personal attention.
Don’t waste any more time and risk losing out on disability benefits. Call (602) 254-6008 today. Since you don’t pay unless we win your case, there’s no reason to wait – contact us now to get started on your application!