Sunday, January 25, 2015

FAQ's About Social Security Disability Benefits and Answers From Social Security Disability Lawyers

Question: I filed for Social Security Disability benefits and the Social Security Administration denied my claim. What do I do now?

Answer: It is not uncommon for the SSA to deny an initial application for benefits. If you get denied, you need to act immediately. You only have 65 days from the date stamped on the SSA letter denying your application to file an appeal and preserve your disability claim.

Question: If the SSA approves my application for disability benefits, what will I get?

Answer: Disability benefits may include Medicare health care insurance, individual benefits, and family benefits. Your monthly financial benefits will be based on the formula in the Social Security Act, as well as the amount that the federal government counts as your Social Security earnings from employment before you became disabled.

Question: How do I know if I am disabled for purposes of receiving disability benefits?

Answer: According to the Social Security law, 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 sure if you qualify, you should check with both your family doctor and our Michigan lawyers about a potential claim for disability benefits.

Question: I have not worked in recent years. Could I still qualify for disability benefits?

Answer: The SSA requires a specific amount of Social Security earnings, or "work credits," to qualify for disability benefits. As a general rule, if you worked for 5 out of the last 10 years, you probably have enough "work credits." You certainly should contact the SSA or consult with an experienced Michigan disability lawyer to find out whether or not you qualify.

Question: I have a serious mental or psychological condition that prevents me from working. Can I still receive disability benefits?

Answer: According to the Social Security Act, a "disability" can be either physical or emotional, or a combination of both. The key is that a doctor finds "objective medical evidence" that you your condition prevents you from working for at least 12 months.

Question: Can I apply for disability benefits on my own?

Answer: Yes. You can file your own application for disability benefits, and represent yourself in all legal proceedings. However, statistics show that people with legal representation, especially on appeals, win their disability claims much more often than those who try to represent themselves.

Question: I cannot afford to pay an attorney fee now. Can I still get legal help with an appeal of the SSA decision to deny my application for disability benefits?

Answer: Yes. Some law firms waive their attorney fees, unless they convince the SSA to approve your claim for disability benefits. If they win, their fee is defined by the Social Security Act and kept very reasonable.

Question: I was denied disability benefits last year, but my medical condition has gotten worse. Can I try again to get disability benefits?

Answer: Yes. There is no limit to the number of times you may apply for benefits. If you feel that you now qualify, you should file another application with the SSA.

Question: If the SSA approves my claim, how long will these benefits last?

Answer: You can get benefits for as long as you remain disabled from employment and meet all other SSA requirements. From time to time, the SSA may review the level of your disability by sending you for a medical evaluation.

Question: My disability was brought on by alcoholism or drug addiction. Can I still qualify for disability benefits?

Answer: Maybe. To determine whether you still have a potential claim, you should consult an experienced attorney. The Social Security law states that you cannot get benefits, if alcoholism and/or drug addiction is a contributing factor that is material to the determination that you are disabled. However, people who used to abuse alcohol or drugs can qualify for benefits, based on other unrelated and disabling health problems.

Attorney Marya Sieminski joined the Sam Bernstein Law Firm in 2003. She is admitted to practice law in Michigan state courts and in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated magna cum laude from Wayne State University Law School. Marya has worked as a trial lawyer for 10 years and exclusively represented victims in personal injury litigation and in workers compensation claims. She also was appointed by the Governor to serve on the State of Michigan Workers Compensation Qualifications Advisory Committee.
The Sam Bernstein Law Firm, our Michigan personal injury law firm, has protected the rights of the injured and disabled for three generations.
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