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Q: How do I know if I can qualify for disability benefits?
A: Social Security has its own definition of disability. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must be unable “to engage in any substantial gainful activity” because of physical or mental illness which is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. “Substantial gainful activity” is not limited to your previous work. If you can do any type of work on a full-time basis, then you would probably not be deemed disabled.
Q: Besides being disabled, what other requirements are there for receiving disability benefits?
A: In order to receive benefits you have to have worked and paid into the Social Security system for a certain amount of time.
Q: How long do I have to work in order to be eligible to receive disability benefits?
A: In order to receive full benefits under the Social Security system you must have worked one “quarter of coverage” for every calendar year beginning with the year after you turned 21, up to the calendar year before you became disabled. Keep in mind that, at most, you are required to have 40 quarters of coverage. Lower “quarters of coverage” are required if you become disabled before age 31 or age 24. If you are over age 31 when you become disabled, you must have 20 quarters of coverage out of the 40 preceding calendar quarters. This is referred to as the 20/40 rule. Simply put, if you have done significant work in five of the last ten years, then you likely have satisfied this requirement.
Q: What benefits am I entitled to?
A: If you’ve been disabled, you may be entitled to disability payments, if you can later return to work, or have permanent disability because of a severe injury or debilitating illness. Social Security disability benefits are available to workers who have paid into the system over the course of their employment. In addition, supplemental security income, or SSI, is a government assistance program for lower income households with individuals who are disabled. You may also be eligible for both if you qualify. To learn more about payments that may be granted in your unique situation, contact the Law Firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd.
Q: What can I do if my benefits have been denied?
A: More than half of all initial Social Security Disability (SSD) applications are denied. Fortunately, you have the right to appeal the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision. If your SSD or SSI application has been denied, you have 60 days to file an appeal. This allows the SSA to reexamine your case based on additional documents and paperwork that must be filled out completely, truthfully, and filed within the strict time frame. This can be a difficult feat, especially when you are already dealing with the stress of an injury, which is why it is so vital that you have a social security disability attorney on your side throughout the appeals process.
Q: Do I need an attorney to appeal a Social Security Disability denial?
A: While you are not required to hire an attorney to assist you at your disability hearing, an experienced social security attorney will greatly improve your chances of winning your claim. In fact, statistics show that a disability claimant (applicant) who is represented by an attorney at the hearing level is twice as likely to be approved than an unrepresented claimant.
The process of appealing an SSD denial is complicated, time-consuming and frustrating. Additionally, there’s a lot of paperwork involved in the process, and many claimants fill out the forms improperly and fail to submit them in a timely manner. Either of these errors can have serious consequences. At the very least, you’ll suffer a delay of months. In some cases, mistakes can actually result in the dismissal of your claim. A competent social security attorney has the working knowledge of these complex rules and regulations and can use them to your best advantage.
The bottom line is that there’s a significantly higher incidence of benefits being awarded in cases with professional representation than those in which the claimants represent themselves.
Q: How do lawyers get paid in Social Security?
A: Social Security is very protective of the disabled and requires that any fee a lawyer may charge must be approved by the Administration. The most common method for attorneys to receive a fee is to sign a “Fee Agreement” with the client, which provides that the attorney will be paid 25% of retroactive benefits payable to the claimant, with a cap of no more than $6,000.00. This assures that the claimant will receive the vast majority of retroactive money due, as a result of disability. It also assures that excess attorney’s fees are not collected simply because a lawyer was hired. Additionally, even after a “Fee Agreement” has been signed, the claimant and the lawyer retain the right to object to the fee that is calculated on retroactive benefits, if it is either too high or too low; and, an Administrative Judge will review any objections to determine whether the fee is fair. A lawyer can instead file a “Fee Petition” if a claim is successful. The lawyer must indicate all time spent and what was done in a detailed manner. The Administration then determines if the fee request is fair for what was done. However, there is no “cap” on the fee that can be approved.
Q: How do I pay my lawyer?
A: Most frequently, 25% of your retroactive award is withheld on Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income as a matter of practice, when a lawyer is representing you. Under the Fee Agreement structure, if there are no objections to the 25% withheld, the fee is then sent directly by the Administration to the lawyer. At the Law Firm of Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, we take SSDI cases on a contingency, so you will not have to pay any attorney feeds until we successfully obtain benefits for you.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim, contact one of our attorneys as soon as possible. Remember, applying for SSD benefits and appealing denied claims is a time sensitive process. Call us at 866-460-1990 today or visit our contact page to schedule a free initial consultation with at any of our four offices located on the Treasure Coast.
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