Filing for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits can be done on one's own, but many people unfortunately have their claims denied and overall struggle to gain access to the benefits that are rightly theirs. Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the benefits themselves as well as the process of filing and appealing.
What is SSD?
Social Security disability is a government program that provides benefits to those who have been injured or are otherwise unable to work for a period of one year or more.
How can I apply for SSD?
Anyone can visit their closest Social Security Administration (SSA) office and fill out an application for benefits. This can be done without representation. However, due to the high rate of SSD denials, it may be beneficial to have a lawyer guide you through the process so that your application is complete and correct.
What is required to receive disability benefits?
To receive SSD benefits, workers must have "paid in" to the system throughout their employment. In some cases, individuals are entitled to SSD benefits even if they have no paid into the system for the typically-required amount of time.
How common is it for a claim to be denied?
It is more common for an SSD claim to be initially denied than it is to be approved. Approximately 65 percent of all initial claims are denied while that rate increases at each additional level of appeal.
How could an attorney help me?
Attorneys like those at Shook & Stone are able to gather the necessary medical evidence and other crucial pieces of information to build a strong case before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). A claim denial could potentially be reversed after it was initially denied. While an attorney is not necessarily, it can be exceedingly helpful.
Can help a non-attorney and non-licensed representative?
Because SSD is an area of administrative law, non-attorney representatives and even unlicensed representatives can assist with Social Security claims. While this is permissible, it may not be as helpful as hiring a lawyer. SSD is still an area of law, which is why attorneys will best understand the codes as well as federal case law that interprets those codes. Also, if your case does go to federal court, then only an attorney can represent you.
What are SSI benefits?
SSI benefits are much like SSD benefits. The main difference is that SSD benefits are for those who have paid into the system, while SSI benefits are for those who are disabled and cannot work but have also not paid into the system. Typically, SSI recipients are lower income.