How long do I have to wait for a hearing?
There are no strict rules as to how long it will take Social Security to decide a case. In our experience, the average time for Social Security to make an initial decision after you file your claim is between 4 to 6 months. If your claim is denied after the initial decision, the average time to wait for a hearing with a judge is between 12 and 18 months. After the hearing, the judge will issue a written decision between 2 and 3 months in most cases.
What do I have to prove to be found disabled by Social Security?
You have to prove you are unable to do full time work. Part of this is showing that you can no longer do any of the jobs you had during the last 15 years. But this is not enough. Most people have to show they are unable to do any job of any kind. This means that you are unable to do a job where you would sit most of the day and would not have to lift and carry more than 10 pounds at a time.
How long do I have to be disabled before I am entitled to benefits?
To be entitled to benefits you must be disabled for a continuous period of at least 12 months. You do not need to show that your disability is permanent.
What is the most important evidence of disability?
The most important evidence of disability is what your doctors say about what you can do. Social Security gives special consideration to your doctors' opinions because they know the most about your conditions. Because your doctor's opinion is so important, you must give your doctor your full cooperation. You must be consistent in attending your appointments. If you miss an appointment, you should reschedule it immediately. It is also important to follow any treatment your doctor recommends. For example, you should take your medication as prescribed. You should also cooperate in any examinations, tests or referrals to other treatment sources your doctor thinks may be helpful.
How can I help you win my case?
Please let us know as soon as:
- You change your address, telephone number or e mail address. If we can't get in touch with you we can't help you.
- You are thinking of changing to a new doctor.
- You become hospitalized for any reason.
- You start seeing a new doctor or other treatment provider. The easiest way to do this may be to get a copy of the doctor's business card and send it to us. We need to know where to get the evidence to help your case.
- There is any serious change in your condition or your doctor's advice or treatment.
- You have surgery.
- You try to return to work (even part time).
- You go to school.
- You receive public assistance and are exempt from having to work.
- You receive any money from Social Security.
Is there any way to get a quicker hearing?
Yes. Under very limited circumstances, it may be possible to get a quicker hearing. One circumstance may be if your illness is likely to cause your death. Another situation may be if you are under such financial hardship that you are unable to obtain food or shelter. Social Security understands that almost everyone who applies for disability benefits is in difficult financial condition because they are not working. Because of this, Social Security is willing to provide an early decision only in the most extreme cases of financial hardship.
Will Workers' Compensation affect my Social Security benefits?
It might. It depends on the amount of money you earned before you became disabled and the amount of your workers' compensation and Social Security benefits. If you get both Social Security and Workers' Compensation benefits for the same period of time, the two benefits added together can not equal more than 80% of your usual earnings before you became disabled. If the two benefits added together would be over the 80% limit, your Social Security benefits will be reduced.
What happens if I settle my workers' compensation case for a lump sum?
If your Social Security benefits are reduced because of workers' compensation, this reduction will not automatically end after a lump sum settlement with workers' compensation. Even though you receive the lump sum workers' compensation settlement as a one time payment, Social Security does not treat it that way. Instead, Social Security considers that you are continuing to get workers' compensation payments at the same weekly rate until the total amount of your lump sum settlement has been exhausted. For this reason, your Social Security benefit may continue to be reduced for a number of years after your lump sum settlement with workers' compensation.
If I get Social Security Disability benefits will I have to repay other benefits I have received?
You might. The answer depends on the type of benefits you received.
If you received New York State Workers' Compensation benefits you will not have to repay those benefits if you win your Social Security Disability case. However, you may receive less Social Security Disability benefits because of workers' compensation. See questions 17 and 18 above.
Long Term Disability. Your rights under a long term disability policy depend upon the specific provisions of your policy. Most long term disability policies provide that you are required to repay long term disability benefits (except for a small minimum monthly payment) if you win your Social Security Disability case.
Public Assistance from the New York State Department of Social Services. You will be required to repay the amount of any public assistance you received during the time that you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.
No Fault Insurance Benefits in New York State. If your disability is related to injuries you sustained in a motor vehicle accident and you received NYS No Fault Insurance benefits because of that accident, you will be required to repay the amount of those benefits you received during the time you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.
How much is your fee?
Our fee will be 25% of any past due benefits resulting from your claim, or, if less, the maximum dollar amount (currently $6,000.00) allowed by SSA based on the date the SSA approves our fee agreement.
Does the representative fee include your expenses?
No, our representation agreement provides that the money we pay out in the course of handling your file (such as the cost of medical records and reports) is in addition to the representative fee. We will give you a detailed invoice at the end of your claim showing the exact amount we paid on your behalf. We will request payment at that time. Payment is due whether you are awarded benefits or not. We will send your medical records to you once payment is received.