Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability is a federal disability benefit program which provides a sick or injured individual a monthly check when they are unable to work. Eligibility is determined by a person’s contribution to the social security system through weekly payroll deductions. Generally an individual who has contributed to the Social Security system for five out of the ten years prior to the onset of disability will be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration requires that a person have a disability or illness which has lasted for at least twelve months or is expected to last for twelve months or more. Disability can stem from any injury or illness whether work-related or not. Some examples of disabling conditions include back injuries, neck injuries, knee injuries, stress related or psychiatric injuries, repetitive stress injuries and neurological conditions.
The process begins with filing an application for benefits with the Social Security Administration. Representation at this initial application stage is highly recommended. The Social Security Administration has streamlined the process by providing the application on line at www.ssa.gov. The initial application is lengthy and quite detailed. Upon submission to the Social Security Administration, medical records are gathered and an initial determination is made. This is the first information that the Social Security Administration will review on the applicant therefore accuracy and thoroughness are vital.
The Social Security Administration reviews the application and makes a decision. If benefits are awarded, then the claimant will receive monthly checks. If the application is denied, then an appeal must be filed within sixty (60) days, called a “Request for Reconsideration”. Representation at that time is also very, very important.
If the Request for Reconsideration is denied, then the disabled individual has the right to present his or her claim to a Social Security Administrative Law Judge at a hearing. This involves testimony by the claimant and the submission of evidence by his or her representative. This is actually the first time that a person can present his or her side of the story to a judge. The chances of success are greatly increased if that individual is represented at a hearing.
Individuals found entitled to Social Security Disability benefits receive a monthly check from the federal government. The amount of the check depends upon a person’s earnings in the years leading up to disability. The amount of the monthly benefit runs from several hundred dollars per month to over $2,000.00 per month. In addition, recipients are entitled to Medicare coverage after being disabled for a sufficient period of time.
Consultations are always free. In addition, the representative’s fee is only payable upon a successful award of benefits. Generally the representative’s fee is paid at 25% of any past due benefits up to a maximum fee of $6,000.00. Quite often the representative’s fee is paid directly by the Social Security Administration from the claimant’s arrearage of benefits.