Frequently Asked Questions
1. When should I file for Social Security disability?
2. Can I be working and still pursue Social Security disability?
3. What does Social Security consider in processing a disability claim?
4. Are all Social Security disability claims denied initially?
5. Should I give up if I am denied initially?
6. When should I contact an attorney?
7. If I am denied initially, what does the appeals process involve?
8. Must I have an attorney at my hearing?
9. What are my chances of success?
10. How long does the appeals process take?
11. Can my claim be expedited?
12. Do I have to pay an attorney fee if I lose?
13. How much will the attorney fee be?
To be approved for disability, you must establish that you have been or will be disabled for at least one year. If you apply immediately after ceasing work, Social Security will likely deny your claim automatically because the one-year requirement has not been met. Because Social Security typically takes six to eight months to render an initial determination, you will have the greatest chance to win your case initially by filing your claim approximately six months after you stop working.
Yes, if your earnings are so low that they are not considered to be “substantial gainful activity” (gross wages of $1,070.00 per month in 2014; gross wages of $1,090.00 per month in 2015).
The combination of your physical and mental medical conditions and work-related restrictions.
No, about one-third are approved, but the approved cases generally involve the most obviously disabled individuals or individuals who are older than 55.
Definitely not. Instead, you should contact an experienced Social Security attorney so that your case is properly evaluated.
Increasingly, disabled individuals are retaining attorneys to file claims on their behalf. However, many individuals choose to file on their own and wait to contact an attorney if the claim is denied.
You have 60 days to file a Request for Reconsideration. If denied on reconsideration, you have 60 days to file a Request for Hearing. If a judge denies the claim after a hearing, you have 60 days to file a Request for Review with the Appeals Council.
No, but your chances of success are significantly improved if you have an attorney representing you.
As noted above, about one-third of cases are approved initially. At the Reconsideration level, only about 10% of cases are approved. At the hearing level before an Administrative Law Judge, about 50% are approved, but the chances vary (depending on the judge). At the Appeals Council level, there is more than an 80% chance that the judge’s denial of your case will be upheld.
About three to six months at the reconsideration level and about 13 months at the hearings level. The Appeals Council takes between six to 18 months to determine if the Administrative Law Judge has issued a correct determination.
Yes, if there is proof that you have a terminal illness, are actively suicidal, or should be classified as in “dire need” (homelessness, declaration of bankruptcy, mortgage foreclosure, utility shut-off, no health insurance, or inability to pay medical bills).
No, Social Security cases are handled on a contingent fee basis.
If successful, 25% of past-due Social Security benefits with a cap of $6,000.00. For example, if past-due benefits are $12,000.00, the attorney fee is $3,000.00. If past due benefits are $40,000.00, the attorney fee is limited to $6,000.00.