What Are Social Security Benefits?

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What Are Social Security Benefits?

Social Security Disability benefits are meant to provide a monthly monetary payment for you to live on if you become ill or disabled, and are no longer able to support yourself. Receiving benefits, then, is based on your ability – or inability – to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a person disabled if a medical condition prevents him or her from performing substantial work for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and the medical condition has lasted at least one year.

Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits? 

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, however, you must have worked in a job or jobs that were covered by Social Security; in other words, you must have worked in jobs where Social Security was deducted from your paycheck. Also, you must have documented medical proof of your illness or disability, and this requires seeing physicians who can verify the condition. After this, there is a lengthy and complex amount of paperwork that must be completed in order to prove you are disabled to the SSA.

What Do I Do to File A Social Security Disability Claim? 

First, it is suggested that you phone Social Security and ask that an application for Social Security Benefits be mailed to you in its entirety; the toll free number is 1-800-772-1213. Once you have the application package, you will see what information needs to be gathered. This is an important step, as the SSA requires a great deal of data in order to process your application for disability benefits. It is also suggested that you request this application as soon as possible, so you can begin gathering the data you will need, as this process can take some time. You will need to see a physician or physicians to verify your medical condition and disability, as well as fill out and sign other paperwork that is required. The complete nature of your disability needs to be documented, as well as which medical providers are treating you, how they are treating you, how often they are treating you, what medications you must take, and how the medical impairment prevents you from working. In addition you will need to gather other information, such as your employment history, marital status, etc. Once these facts and figures have been gathered, the application is filled out and sent to the Social Security Administration to be processed to see if you qualify for benefits. This is where applying for Social Security benefits becomes a waiting game, as the process of approval can take anywhere from 3 months to 2 years. Alternatively, you can retain a lawyer at the outset of filing for disability, as a disability attorney will guide you and help you acquire the correct information in a timely fashion, as well as assist you in completing and filing the necessary paperwork.

Why Does it Take So Long To Hear From the Social Security Administration? 

Social Security Disability claims are first processed through your local Social Security field office, or a State Agency in your area. These field offices have Representatives who will accept your application in person, but you should also know that you can submit your application and related forms by telephone, by mail, or by filing online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/dibplan/dapply.htm. There are a number of things that slow the SSA down, one of the major ones being that the rules and regulations of the Social Security Administration’s disability program are so complex that preparing a disability claim is an extremely challenging process. The average person often has difficulty in acquiring the right information in the proper way, and then preparing the forms correctly, and so the entire process can take a great deal of time.

What If My Disability Claim Is Rejected? 

If your disability claim is rejected, it is important to know that it is not the end of the world! You will often hear that “all disability claims are rejected the first time you file,” and – in a sense – this can be true. If your claim is rejected the first time, you can file an appeal for reconsideration; that process will take approximately 3 to 5 months. IMPORTANT: You must file your appeal for reconsideration within 60 days of the initial denial, or you will miss your right to appeal! If that appeal is denied, then you have the right to a hearing to determine your case for benefits. At this point it is important to retain an attorney to handle your case. Some people may worry that they cannot afford an attorney, however the SSA sets limits on the fee an attorney can charge for these services. When you are awarded your benefits, they will be granted retroactively from the date you became disabled, thus – there will be a lump sum that you are paid. Attorney’s fees come out of this amount, never out of any of your future disability payments. Currently, attorney’s fees for representation in a disability case are 25% of the total amount awarded, or $6,000, whichever is less. Unfortunately, the waiting time for a Social Security hearing can be frustrating, as the waiting time is up to 18 months.

How Can I Process My Claim More Quickly? 

Most often, claims are slowed because the application was filled out or filed incorrectly, or more information is required that was not provided the first time, and the SSA office will continue to contact you until they are satisfied with the information provided. This can also be a major reason that a claim is denied the first time. Retaining an attorney at the very outset of the process of filing your disability claim is the surest way to move it along more quickly, as an attorney understands the entire process and can help you complete forms accurately, and then ensure that they are filed in a timely manner. Also, if it should happen that you are rejected the first time and must file an appeal, you will have an attorney who can do this for you quickly. It is certainly necessary to contact an attorney who is skilled and knowledgeable in Social Security Disability law if you must request a hearing for your disability benefits!

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