Social Security Disability Tips & FAQ

  1. What is required to qualify for Social Security Benefits?

In order to be considered disabled, a claimant must have a physical and/or emotional condition that renders them incapable of performing substantial gainful activity for an expected period of at least one year or is expected to end in death. Factors that are considered in deciding whether or not you qualify include a claimant's age, education, and past work history. Many hardworking people feel uncomfortable about applying for SSD benefits because they have the misconception that they are asking the government for a, "hand-out." That is not true! Most of my social security clients have been paying in to the social security system since they got their first part-time job as a teenager. An application for social security disability benefits is simply a request that the Administration apply the rules to their case and make a determination as to whether or not they are permitted to take their social security benefits early because of a disability which prevents them from working. It's certainly not a hand-out!

  1. When is the best time for me to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Claimants should apply as soon as you and your doctors agree that you should not be working due to a condition that is expected to last for at least one year. Oftentimes, people have to wait and see what happens with their medical conditions and continue working but should apply as soon as they stop working and it is apparent that the condition is not going away.

  1. Are there backdated Social Security Disability benefits?

Yes. Backdated benefits are awarded for up to one year before you applied as long as you were not working and you can prove that you were disabled for that time period.

  1. I applied for Social Security Disability Benefits and was denied. How long do I have to appeal the initial decision?

Normally, you are given 60 days to appeal any unfavorable decision on your disability claim. More often than not, claims are denied after the initial application stage. If the initial application is denied, as soon as our firm receives that letter of denial we send out the appeal form that same day in order to avoid any delays with the appeal process.

  1. How long does the initial decision usually take?

The timeframe to receive an initial decision usually varies pretty widely from case to case based on the amount of medical evidence and the type of conditions you are claiming. However, 6 months is not an uncommon wait time for the SSA to make an initial decision on your application.

  1. What is most helpful in strengthening a case?

The strongest cases are those that have clear, supportive medical records to use as evidence in verifying the conditions you are claiming.

  1. I have been denied and advised to apply for a hearing. How long does it take to be granted a hearing?

I hate answering this question because the truthful response is rarely less than one year. The SSA has such a large caseload and not enough employees to handle the cases efficiently, so the average wait time for a hearing is usually between a year and 18 months.

  1. When can I hire someone to represent me and how will my representative be paid?

You can hire a representative at any time during the process. The representative will be paid out of any backdated benefits usually at 25% of that amount. The representatives fee is normally a maximum of $6,000, but no fee is due unless we are successful in your claim. The fee is usually deducted automatically by the SSA and delivered directly to our firm. One thing that most social security claimants DO NOT KNOW before they hire a representative is that non-attorney representatives charge the same fee as an attorney who has been practicing social security law for over 18 years, like E. Lynn Gibbons. It doesn't make sense that so many people would put their family's livelihood in the hands of a non-attorney representative for the same cost as having a seasoned, skilled lawyer advocating their claim.