Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Social Security Disability

This is a basic list of FAQs regarding applying for and/or appealing your Social Security Disability claim

1. Who is eligible?

In order to be eligible for social security disability you must demonstrate to the Social Security Administration that you are unable to work in any job considering your age, education, job history and medical condition. Generally speaking, the older and less educated you are, the easier it is to get benefits.

2. How do I apply?

You can apply by phone, over the Internet or by visiting your local social security office. Be prepared with the name and address of any doctor who you have seen for your medical condition. Make sure that you describe all of your medical conditions, not just those that you think are disabling. The Social Security Administration will obtain the records from your doctors and make a determination in three-four months (in PA).

3. What do I do if I get a denial?

Most claims are denied at the initial level. It is important not to give up at this point. If you have not already done so, you should consult a lawyer at this point. You must appeal the denial within 60 days of the date that you receive it or have an adequate excuse as to why it took more than 60 days to appeal. Do not reapply — you must appeal the decision to preserve the filing date and get in front of a Social Security judge.

4. What happens when I go before the Social Security judge?

Cases are scheduled by the Social Security Administration within about nine months to a year after the appeal. At the hearing, you should have an attorney. You and your attorney will have an opportunity to review the Social Security file and to submit additional medical records. At the hearing, the judge and your attorney will have questions for you to try to develop your case. A vocational expert may be called upon by the judge to provide testimony as to what jobs may or may not be available given your situation. Sometimes the judge may obtain testimony from a medical doctor to further clarify your medical condition and restrictions. After the hearing, your lawyer may submit additional documents if requested by the judge. The judge will then make a formal written decision within a few weeks to months after the hearing.

5. How do I pay for a lawyer?

Most lawyers charge a contingent fee (usually 25 percent) that is only paid if they are successful. The fee comes out of any retroactive benefits that you are awarded.