Social Security Disability Law

Are you disabled?
If you can no longer work as a result of a physical or mental problem or a combination of problems severe enough to keep you from working in any regular job for at least 12 months, you are disabled for the purposes of Social Security disability or SSI. The test is not limited to whether or not you are able to go back to your old job or whether employers would hire you with your disability. Rather, the test is whether you are capable of performing regular, sustained work that exists in the national economy. Your age, education, training, work experience and medical and emotional condition will be used in deciding your case.

If you are denied benefits, don’t quit.
The first appeal is called reconsideration. You must request reconsideration within 60 days of receiving your denial notice. Before requesting reconsideration, you should seriously consider whether or not you want the assistance of an attorney. At the reconsideration stage, an attorney can being to present information to the Social Security Administration that may lead to an award of benefits. However, most individuals are again denied benefits at the reconsiderations level. However, they should not stop there. If denied at that point, they should request a hearing within 60 days.

Do you need legal representation?
You have a right to have an attorney represent you in your Social Security claim. Statistics have shown that people who are represented by an attorney have been successful more often that people who are unrepresented. Whether you hire an attorney is entirely up to you, but you should seriously consider the benefit that an attorney can mean to you in Social Security claim. Each case is different, and an attorney’s role will depend on the particular facts in your case.

An attorney will undoubtedly obtain documents from your Social Security file and determine what additional information should be provided to the Social Security Administration to present the strongest case possible. The attorney will gather medical and other evidence and may contact your treating physicians to obtain additional medical reports to answer questions raised by Social Security Administration to send you to another doctor at their expense so that every aspect of your disabling medical condition is well documented. Your attorney may send you to other doctors for additional medical examinations and reports. Your attorney may request subpoenas to ensure that crucial witnesses or documents are at your Social Security hearing. Your attorney will undoubtedly advise you on how best to prepare yourself to testify at your hearing. Your attorney will attend the hearing with you and see to it that you obtain a fair hearing but objecting to improper evidence or procedures. Your attorney will cross-examine and adverse witnesses at your hearing. Your attorney will have the right to present an oral closing statement at your hearing that will explain why you are entitled to benefits under the social security law and regulations or your attorney can submit a written summary of the evidence to the Administrative Law Judge and argue why you are entitled to benefits. If you are awarded benefits, your attorney will make sure that the Social Security Administration correctly calculates your benefits. If you lose, your attorney will analyze the decision of the Administrative Law Judge and determine whether or not your claim should be appealed by requesting review by the appeals council. If necessary, your attorney can appeal your case to the Federal Court.

How can you afford to hire an attorney?
Most attorneys who do Social Security claims will represent disabled individuals on a contingent fee basis. This means that if the client is not awarded benefits, the client does not pay an attorney’s fee and is only obligated to pay out of pocket expenses incurred by the attorney. Those expenses usually involve charges for obtaining medical records, reports, and payments to doctors for examinations. There may be charges for long-distance telephone calls, travel expense, etc. The contingent fee is generally limited to 25 percent of past due benefits. Your regular future monthly benefits will not be affected.

Social Security Disability and SSI Claims
Each year, thousands of disabled people receive notices from the Social Security Administration denying their Social Security disability and SSI claims. Many of those people become discouraged and fail to pursue their claims. Statistics prove that if a disabled individual does not quit and obtains the services of an attorney to represent them in the various stages of appeal, the majority are eventually awarded benefits. This brochure is meant to answer important questions for disabled people who have been denied benefits by the Social Security Administration.

1800 Second Street | Suite 790 | Sarasota, Florida 34236 | Telephone: 941.365.0914