"The Social Security Act is among the most intricate ever drafted by Congress. Its Byzantine construction, as Judge Friendly has observed, makes the Act “almost unintelligible to the uninitiated.”
Friedman v. Berger, 547 F.2d 724.
Here are some questions that may help you understand how we can help you.
1. How much does it cost for the first appointment?
There is no fee for the initial consultation. The initial consultation may involve more than one office and/or telephone appointment.
2. What services are offered at the initial consultation?
You will first speak to a member of the staff for us to get basic information about your claim. An appointment will then be scheduled for you to speak with an attorney. We will discuss your medical conditions, the treatment you receive for those conditions, and your work background. We will educate you about the rules and regulations that apply to your claim. We will make suggestions to you about things you can do to make your claim stronger. We will make you aware of any appeal deadlines, and determine what needs to be done about filing the appeal. You will personally speak with the attorney who will be responsible for handling your claim.
3. Is it important to have a local attorney?
The rules and regulations used to determine whether you are disabled are the same across the country. However, an experienced attorney knows that proof requirements vary from judge to judge, and a local attorney who is familiar with the judge assigned to your claim will be in a better position to present the right arguments and evidence to get your case approved. Attorneys who do not regularly try cases before the local judges are at a significant disadvantage in this respect.
4. Am I eligible to file a claim for Disability Insurance Benefits, Supplemental Security Income, or both?
The Social Security Administration administers two disability programs: Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB); and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs require a finding of medical disability, but there are differences in eligibility requirements for each program. SSI is a needs based program for disabled individuals who meet certain financial requirements. DIB eligibility is dependent upon work and earnings throughout your life.
5. Who should file a disability claim?
You should file a disability claim if you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than one year. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d), 1382c(a)(3)(A).
6. How do I prove I am disabled?
You have the burden of providing medical evidence proving disability. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1512(A)-(c), 404.1513, 404.1516.
7. How does social security evaluate my claim?
Social security uses a five-step sequential evaluation process to evaluate your claim:
- Are you working at the substantial gainful activity level? If not, go to step two.
- Do you have a condition that is “severe?” If yes, go to step three.
- Is your condition so severe that it meets the criteria for a Listed Impairment? If yes, then your claim will be approved. If not, go to step four.
- Can you do any work you have done in the last fifteen years? If yes, then your claim is denied. If no, then go to step five.
- Can you do any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy? If yes, your claim is denied. If no, then your claim is approved.
8. What is the appeals process for Social Security claimants?
Reconsideration – If your claim is denied at the initial level, you may request a reconsideration of your case.
Hearing – If your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, you may request a hearing by an administrative law judge.
Appeals Council – If your claim is denied by the administrative law judge, you may request a review of the judge’s decision.
Federal Court – If the Appeals Council denies your request for review, you may file an appeal in the United States court system.
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