Blunder #4 – Assuming that you can’t afford an attorney. Wrong! You only pay a social security attorney fee when you win your claim and receive benefits. The Social Security Administration limits the amount of money your lawyer can charge you, and there are no fees required out of pocket at the start of your claim. Generally, by the time you win you disability claim, you have accrued back due benefits dating back to the date you became disabled or the date you filed your claim. The SSA has issued limits which indicate to attorneys that their fee can only be the lesser of 25% or $6000 of your back due benefits, which sometimes can be as much as $45,000 depending on your circumstances. Lawyers don’t charge anything for your future benefits. The amount of benefits can be huge, and you can’t afford to NOT hire an experienced disability attorney.
Blunder #5 – Assuming that the SSA gives you good advice. People rely on the advice given by SSA employees – they work for the government, after all, and can be awfully stern on the phone or in person. Unfortunately, over the years we have had people share with us some of the really bad advice given to them by SSA employees. We’ve seen people miss out on years of benefits, or apply for the wrong benefits simply because they were given bad information. So, talk to a disability attorney before giving up on your claim or making any big decisions. Often times, a disability attorney will know the laws better and will take more time to talk through the issues with you.
Blunder #6 – Assuming that a year has to pass before you can file for benefits. Wrong! The law says that you must have a condition that (1) kept you from working for one year or (2) you and your doctor expect to keep you from working for at least one year. Waiting until a year has passed since you last worked will not prevent you from gaining retroactive benefits and health insurance. Apply for benefits as soon as you
and your doctors believe that you have a condition that will keep you from working for a year or more.
Blunder #7 – Assuming that your claim will be approved right away. Many folks assume that because they’ve paid into the system, they can just fill out the forms and get approved because it’s their right. Wrong! The SSA denies about 75% of first time claims. Same goes for claims at reconsideration. The good news is that over half the claims that go to a hearing in front of a Judge are approved. The hearing stage is when it is critical to have experienced representation.