I filed for Social Security Benefits in Michigan and my claim was denied. What do I do now?
It is not uncommon for SSA to deny an initial application for benefits. As soon as you receive a denial, you need to act immediately. You only have 60 days from the date stamped on the letter to appeal the denial and preserve your claim.
If I get Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, what should I expect to receive?
Disability Insurance Benefits may include Medicare medical coverage, individual benefits, and family benefits. The amount of the benefits is based on a formula in the Social Security Act, as well as the amount that the Internal Revenue Service shows as your SSA earnings.
How do I know if I am disabled for purposes of receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?
Under the Social Security Act, an eligible “disability” means the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months or result in death.” If you are not certain if you qualify, you should speak with your family physician and contact our office regarding your qualifications for benefits.
I have not worked in recent years. Could I still qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?
SSA requires a specific amount of Social Security earnings (work credits) to qualify. As a general rule, if you worked for 5 out of the last 10 years, you probably acquired enough credits. You certainly should contact the SSA or consult with a lawyer to determine whether or not you qualify.
I have a mental or psychological condition that prevents me from working. Can I still receive benefits?
According to the Social Security Act, a “disability” can be physical or mental, or a combination of both. The key is that a doctor finds objective medical evidence that you are unable to work for a period of at least 12 consecutive months.
Can I apply for Social Security Benefits on my own?
Yes. You can file your own application for Social Security Disability Benefits or SSI, and represent yourself in seeking benefits. However, statistics indicate that claimants who have legal representation, especially on appeals, win their benefits much more often than those who represent themselves. If you retain our office, there is no fee if we are unsuccessful in obtaining benefits on your behalf. If we our law firm is successful, our fee is defined by the government and kept very reasonable.
I was denied Social Security Benefits last year, but my condition has gotten worse. Can I try for benefits again?
Yes. There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for benefits. If you feel that you now qualify for benefits, you can reapply for consideration.
If I receive Social Security Disability Benefits, how long will the benefits last?
You may receive benefits for as long as you remain disabled from gainful employment and meet all other SSA requirements. It is possible that the SSA will periodically review your condition by requesting a medical evaluation.
My disabling condition was brought on by alcoholism or drug addiction. Can I still qualify for benefits?
To determine whether or not you may have a claim, you should consult with an attorney. If drug addiction and/or alcoholism is a contributing factor that is material to the determination that you are disabled, you may not qualify for benefits, according to the Social Security Act, sections 223(d)(2) and 1614(a)(3).
How long will it take to get my benefits?
For an initial application, it typically takes 4-6 months to get a decision. Once denied and an appeal has been filed, it typically takes between 12-18 months to get a hearing depending upon the ODAR. After the hearing, it will take an additional 2-3 months to get the decision, and an additional 1-2 months to receive your money if you win.
What should I do about (bills, rent, etc.) while my case is pending & I can’t work?
Unfortunately, many people filing for SS disability benefits are also having financial difficulties. One option is to try and apply for benefits with DHS (food stamps, Medicaid, cash assistance). Another option is to contact local organizations (211-United Way, Salvation Army, etc) for assistance.
I have no insurance. How am I supposed to go to the doctor?
Due to being off work, many Social Security claimants are in the unfortunate position of being without medical insurance. It is important to try to get medical care during this time, #1 and most importantly, to care for your health, and #2 because in order for an ALJ to decide your case favorably, there needs to be medical evidence in the record which substantiates your claim for disability. There are community programs in most counties to look into. Also, United way (211) may be able to help find a doctor/clinic that you can go to at little or no cost. Some claimants have to go to the emergency room for medical care at times.
What can be done to speed up the case?
There is very little, if anything, that can be done to speed up the claim. There is a SSA backlog of individuals waiting to have their claims heard before Administrative Law Judges. There are circumstances when a hearing may be scheduled more quickly. For example, the SSA has defined certain terminal illnesses that will qualify a claimant to get a quicker hearing.
What are my chances of winning?
There is no way to know for certain how your case will be decided. The medical evidence in the file is needed to support your claims of disability, so the best way to help your claim get approved is by getting regular medical treatment and following prescribed courses of treatment.
Can my spouse, child or friend can answer questions for me at the hearing because they are better at knowing dates, diagnoses, etc?
Usually the only person that will testify at the hearing is the claimant. However, in certain circumstances (head injury, mental illness, etc), another person may be able to offer additional testimony that the claimant is not able to convey. In these instances, we will call additional witnesses to testify at the hearing.
I’m being evicted/house is in foreclosure, what should I do?
If you are evicted or receive a judgment of foreclosure, your hearing may be scheduled more quickly due to dire economic need. This is totally within the discretion of the SSA and we cannot guarantee that requesting this will speed wait time up. Keep in mind that the vast majority of individuals waiting for their disability hearing have financial problems, and that the SSA will only look at the MOST DIRE circumstances when considering a dire need request.
Is there anything I can put on my application that would improve my chances of winning?
You need to be specific about the disabilities that you suffer from and the functional limitations that those disabilities cause. You also need to list the doctors that you see regularly and medications/treatment they prescribe.
I’m nervous about the hearing. What will it be like?
The hearing is relatively informal. You will be placed under oath before testifying, and so will any other witnesses. You will answer questions that the Judge and your representative ask (if you have one). Then the vocational and/or medical expert will testify in response to hypothetical questions posed by the Judge about what type of work you may be able to do considering your disability. The judge will most likely not make a decision on the day of the hearing, but will issue a written decision within 1-2 months. You will receive a copy of that decision by mail.
Can I go back to work? If I do, how will that affect my case?
You are the only person that can make the determination about when/if you should go back to work. There are many variables involved and the answer really depends on your unique situation. If you are working and earning over $1040 per month (for 2013), then you are engaged in what the SSA calls “substantial gainful activity” and are therefore not disabled. However, if you attempt to go back to work but are unsuccessful due to your disability after a very short period of time, then the SSA may not hold that against you. If you are off work for over a year due to a disability and then are able to return to work, then you may be eligible for benefits for a “closed period”.
If you or a loved one was denied Social Security Benefits or plans to apply for benefits we can help.
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