Social Security Disability is a complex group of programs that provides financial and medical benefits for qualifying individuals who are unable to work before their normal retirement age.
WHAT PROGRAMS ARE AVAILABLE?
The main programs are:
* Adult Disabled Child (DC).
* Social Security Disability (SSDI).
* Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
* Widows and Widowers benefits.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO QUALIFY FOR THE DIFFERENT DISABILITY PROGRAMS?
Generally, the requirements for these programs are:
* Adult Disabled Child. (DC):
A deceased or disabled parent and proof of disability before the age of 22.
* Social Security Disability. (SSDI) Disability:
forty quarters of work, and disability beginning within five years of the qualifying work.
* Supplemental Security Income. (SSI) Disability:
resources of less than $3000 ($2000 for a single person) and no substantial income from other sources.
* Widows and Widowers.
Disability, the marriage lasting over two years and being over the age of 50.
ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS FOR MY CHILDREN?
Auxiliary benefits, now about $400 per month, may be available for your children. These benefits are not available with all of the disability programs. Additionally, child¬ren with severe physical or mental problems may be able to draw Supplemental Security Income on their own.
CAN I GET DISABILITY IF I AM STILL WORKING?
Generally, full time work precludes a finding of disability. Part-time work and work with wages below certain levels, about $800 per month in recent years, may still allow the person to obtain disability. A Supplemental Security Income recipient can also earn wages but the SSI benefit is reduced approximately one dollar for every two dollars earned.
DO I REALLY NEED A LAWYER TO GET MY BENEFITS?
The approval rate for disability suggests that the majority of applicants do not get disability when they first apply. In 2003, approximately 3’/2 million Americans applied for either Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. Almost 63% were denied benefits. Of those that appealed the denial, 85% were again denied benefits. However, over 60% of those who appealed to an Administrative Law Judge were granted disability benefits
(Source, Social Security Forum, February, 2004).
WHAT IF I CAN NOT AFFORD A LAWYER?
Maybe a better question is, “Can you afford not to have a lawyer?.” Remember, you have to win your case before you can receive any money from Social Security.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY NOW?
You do not need to pay any money up front to a lawyer to help you. Social Security lawyers get paid on the “contingency” fee basis. This means the lawyer only gets paid for the time spent on your case if you are awarded disability benefits. The legal fee then is only 25% of the money that is owed to you from the date you are found disabled. A lawyer does not get any payment from your monthly benefit after he or she has won your case.
HOW SHOULD I PICK A LAWYER TO REPRESENT ME?
One thing to consider is how much time the lawyer spends on Social Security law. Generally, the more cases a lawyer does, the better he or she becomes in that area. Lawyers specializing in Social Security Disability typically do 50, 60 or more Social Security hearings each year.
I AM STILL NOT SURE. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
Call a lawyer. Social Security lawyers will not charge you anything to discuss your case. There is simply too much at stake for you not to get the best help available. Your Social Security Disability payment, and your future financial wellbeing, depend on what you do now. Don’t gamble with your benefits.