Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDB)
When you are sick or injured and unable to work, it may be hard to make ends meet, and even life’s simplest challenges may now seem significant. If this has happened to you, or a loved one, there’s no need to go it alone. The legal experts at Finkelstein & Partners can help you understand your options.
If you are under age 65 and have been out of work for at least 5 months due to illness to injury, and most likely will remain out of work for a full year, even if you are collecting Workers' Compensation and/or retirement benefits, you may also be eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDB).
What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability Insurance provides monthly benefits to workers who meet the Social Security Administration's definition of disabled. If qualified, you would become entitled to receive monthly benefits until you have recovered fully from your injury or sickness, or turn age 65 to 67, depending on your date of birth. When you reach retirement age, you will be automatically transferred over to receive your regular Social Security benefits. If you pass away and have minor children that are still in school, they will be entitled to receive benefits on your account up to age 19 or graduation from high school, whichever comes first.
Who is eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Benefits are available to workers who:
- Are at least 18 years of age, but have not yet reached their full retirement age; and
- Have worked five of the last 10 years (40 quarters) preceding the date of disability with FICA (Social Security) deductions (no "off the books") and
- Cannot, for medical reasons, hold any substantial, gainful employment for at least one year.
All three of these criteria must be met by applicants to be considered eligible.
Why You Should Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDB)
If eligible, you should apply for SSDB because:
- If your SSDB claim is approved, you will receive a monthly payment equal to the amount that you would receive from Social Security if you had reached full retirement age. You can be paid back to the sixth month that you were out of work, or your SSDB will begin on the date the Social Security Administration (SSA) establishes as your date of disability, based on the medical records and the decision of the SSA.
- Medicare coverage (health insurance) is provided to SSDB recipients after they have been receiving SSDB for 2 years.
When to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDB)
SSDB does not provide any payments for the first five months of disability. You should file your application in your sixth month of disability. By waiting until the sixth month to apply, it is easier for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to conclude that you will be unable to perform any substantial, gainful employment for at least one year.
What medical conditions make me eligible for SSDB?
EVERY disability you suffer from, not just work-related injuries and illnesses, is considered by the Social Security Administration in determining your eligibility for benefits. Any medical condition, or side effect from a prescription drug, that prevents you from working, should be listed when applying for SSDB.
How to Apply for Social Security Disability (SSDB)
Prior to applying for SSDB, we encourage you to call Finkelstein and Partners at 1-800-LAW-AMPM, or submit the "Need Representation" form - located on this web site. One of our SSDB legal assistants will call you to answer questions, assist you in filling out the forms if it is determined you meet the qualifications, and guide you through the application process.
If you prefer, you may go to your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office and apply in person; apply over the telephone by calling 800-772-1213; or you can apply online at: www.socialsecurity.gov
Some of the information you need to have when you apply:
- The names, addresses and telephone numbers of all health care providers from whom you have received treatment for all medical conditions, both physical and mental, that are keeping you from working
- All of the medical conditions for which those medical providers treated you;
- A list by name, dosage and frequency of all medications you are currently taking. Understanding your medications is important to your application, as their side effects may reduce your ability to get or keep a job.
- In applying for SSDB, do not omit any illness/injury from which you suffer and have been treated for, including mental illness. There are many other pieces of information, such as your drivers' license, Social Security identification card, marriage certificate (if applicable), birth certificate, etc. that you will need to produce when you apply for SSDB. You will be given more specific instructions about what information is needed when you apply.
After your application interview, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will review your application and will contact your treating physician(s) for additional information.
You may be asked to make an appointment for an examination by one or more physicians selected by the SSA. Be sure to make the appointment and attend the exam(s).
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE APPLICATION IS COMPLETE?
- In most cases, the initial review by the SSA takes about four months. When the process is completed, the applicant is sent a letter advising if a favorable determination has been made.
If your SSDB application is denied, and you would like Finkelstein & Partners to represent you, it is important that you call 1-800-LAW-AMPM immediately upon receiving your denial letter. An appeal hearing must be requested not more than 60 days after the date of the unfavorable determination letter. Finkelstein & Partners will review your denial and make a determination if the Law Firm will file a Request for Hearing and become your representative.
HEARING LEVEL (IF INITIAL APPLICATION IS DENIED)
You are more likely to have a successful if you have legal representation. Finkelstein & Partners have proven success in assisting hundreds of clients with their SSDB claims.
Working closely with you, Finkelstein & Partners team will help you prepare for your hearing. We’ll conduct an in-depth interview with you, correspond directly with your doctors, obtain prior work histories, process necessary forms, and prepare and represent you at the hearing. At the hearing, an Administrative Law Judge will take your testimony and go over your case with you and your Finkelstein and Partners counsel.
NOTE: A favorable decision at the hearing may result in retroactive benefits. Be sure to ask your attorney about retroactive benefits.
ATTORNEY FEES FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY
Attorneys' fees for representing SSDB applicants are regulated by federal law. Fees are contingent upon success, so Finkelstein & Partners will only be paid if we are successful in obtaining SSDB for you. If your SSDB claim is accepted, the Social Security Administration usually withholds 25% of your retroactive benefits, pending receipt of a fee application from your attorney.
Finkelstein & Partners will offer you the opportunity to cap the fee - currently $6,000 (subject to change) - or 25% of retroactive benefits, whichever is less. When you retain Finkelstein & Partners, LLP to represent you for Social Security Disability, the attorney and the client both sign a fee agreement, which clearly explains the fee determination process.