Social Security Disability Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Social Security Disability?

What is SSI?

How long does the Social Security process take?

Why does this process take so long?  

How can an attorney help me in obtaining my benefits?

Why does the Social Security Administration keep sending me the same forms?

What happens if I get an unfavorable decision from the judge?
Why do they keep denying my claim?

Once I win, how long does it take for my payments to start?

How far back will my past-due benefits go?

Why do I have to give SSA 5 months before my payments begin?

Why does Social Security offset my workers' compensation payments?

When will my Medicare benefits begin?

 


 

Q: What is Social Security Disability?

A: Social Security Disability are benefits payable to an individual under the age of 65 who is no longer able to work because of a physical or mental disability. An individual approved for Social Security Disability is also awarded Medicare. Call Lopez & Lopez, P.A. to determine whether you are eligible to apply for benefits.


Q: What is SSI?

A: SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, are benefits payable to an individual under the age of 65 who is either a disabled child, or an adult who is disabled and also meets the financial and asset requirements. An individual approved for SSI is also awarded Medicaid. Call Lopez & Lopez, P.A. to determine whether you are eligible to apply for these benefits.


Q: How long does the Social Security process take?

A: On average, it can take around two years from the time a claimant submits an application for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits before they are awarded benefits. In some cases, it can take longer. Unfortunately, we have no control over the process.


Q: Why does this process take so long?
A: This process begins with filing an application. Once your application is filed, the Office of Disability Determinations reviews and obtains medical evidence in order to reach a determination. It takes approximately 120-160 days to receive a decision from them. If you are denied, as most people are, you will need to Request a Reconsideration within 60 days. It will take approximately another 120-160 days to receive a decision from the Office of Disability Determinations. Should you be denied again on the Request for Reconsideration, you will need to file a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge within 60 days from the date of your denial. Once the Request for Hearing is filed, it can take approximately 12 to 14 months to have your hearing scheduled due to the tremendous backlog at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. After your hearing, the judge usually will make a determination within 120 days; however, there are no set guidelines as to when a decision has to be rendered.


Q: How can an attorney help me in obtaining my benefits?
A: Should you decide to hire an attorney, the attorney will receive a copy of everything the Social Security Administration sends you regarding your benefits. Therefore, the attorney is able to keep track of everything that is happening in your claim. Furthermore, an attorney is able to make sure that your appeals are filed in a timely manner, as you only have 60 days from each denial to file an appeal. Finally, an attorney can help sort all of the medical evidence, prepare your testimony for the hearing, and argue your case in front of the Administrative Law Judge. Call Lopez & Lopez, P.A. for a free consultation.


Q: Why does the Social Security Administration keep sending me the same forms?
A: The Social Security Administration is obligated to obtain and update all medical evidence on a regular basis. In order to update their file regarding your disabling condition and your treating physicians, they must require you to fill out these forms at each stage of the process.


Q: What happens if I get an unfavorable decision from the judge?
A: Should you be denied by the Administrative Law Judge, you may file an appeal to the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia. The Appeals Council will review the judge's decision, all of the medical evidence reviewed by the judge, and any additional evidence dated prior to the judge's decision that the judge did not review. Currently, the Appeals Council process is taking 12 -18 months to issue a decision. Should the Appeals Council also deny your claim, you have the right to file an appeal in Federal Court.


Q: Why do they keep denying my claim?
A: Before having a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, your claim is handled strictly by Social Security Administration employees. These employees are guided by certain restrictions that they must follow when reviewing your medical evidence. Furthermore, they do not get the opportunity to talk to you about your condition, as an Administrative Law Judge does. This is the reason why most people are denied and must file a Request for a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, who is not an employee of the Social Security Administration and who will issue a complete and impartial new decision on your case.


Q: Once I win, how long does it take for my payments to start?
A: Your first monthly check should arrive within 60 days of your favorable decision. Past-due benefits without a Workers' Compensation (W/C) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) offset usually take 60 to 90 days. An offset may delay your past-due benefits up to six months.


Q: How far back will my past-due benefits go?
A: Past-due benefits may be paid back for up to one year prior to your initial application date through the month of your favorable decision. However, if SSA determines that you are disabled after the date of your application, then your past-due benefits will be paid from your date of disability through the month of your favorable decision.


Q: Why do I have to give SSA 5 months before my payments begin?
A: The waiting period is part of the Social Security Rules and Regulations and everyone applying for and receiving Social Security Disability has to wait the full five (5) calendar months from the date of disability before their benefits begin payment.


Q: Why does Social Security offset my workers' compensation payments?
A: The offset is designed to eliminate a situation where disabled workers could receive more from the combination of workers' compensation and Social Security Disability benefits than they earned prior to the onset of disability. The offset provisions are applicable before and after the settlement of a workers' compensation claim.


Q: When will my Medicare benefits begin?
A: Your Medicare benefits begin twenty-four (24) months from the date of eligibility of monetary benefits. For example, if your date of disability is 01/01/2005, then your first month of entitlement to monetary benefits would be 06/01/2005. Therefore, you would be eligible for Medicare on 06/01/2007.