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FAQs
Attorney Kenneth N. Gormly

FAQs

How long does it take to receive benefits?

When it comes to applying for disability benefits—the sooner you apply, the better. The application process is not a short one, taking as many as three to five months. The Social Security disability rules indicate that you cannot receive benefits until you have lived with your disability for six full months. This six-month range is calculated from the date your disability began. When it comes to Supplemental Security Income (SSI), benefits may begin as soon as one month following your initial claim.

How does the application process work?

The application process begins, as one might expect, with paperwork. The Social Security Administration has adopted modern tools to make the process easier, allowing you to apply online via their website (https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib). Between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., you can also apply by phone: 1-800-772-1213. The SSA has a special line for deaf/hard of hearing applicants that can be reached at TTY 1-800-325-0778. If you’re more comfortable communicating face-to-face, you can also make an in-person appointment with your local Social Security Office (https://www.ssa.gov/locator/) by calling the numbers provided. If you want help from the start, an SSI disability attorney in Olympia can assist you in filling out your application.

What do I need to apply for Social Security Benefits?

If you decide to hire an SSI disability attorney in Olympia, your representative can help make sure that all relevant documentation is collected and supplied quickly for a faster turnaround. Whether you decide to file independently or with an attorney, the essential documents for filing a social security disability claim include; a birth certificate (or other proof of birth), proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status, U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you served before 1968, last year’s W-2 form(s) and/or self-employment tax return. You also want to include any medically relevant documentation to use as evidence, including medical records, doctors’ reports, and recent test results. Information regarding your occupational status can also help give the SSA a clearer picture of how your disability has affected your life. The SSA may also request additional information during the review of your claim, which you can supply via mail or bring to a Social Security office in person.

How does Social Security define disability?

The SSA has a very inflexible definition for ‘disability.’ To be considered disabled, you must be unable to engage in any “substantial gainful activity” (paid work) because of your “medically determinable” impairment, be it physical or mental. This includes disabilities that are expected to continue for at least a full year or result in the individual’s death. Hiring an SSI disability attorney in Olympia can help you present a strong case showing how you fit into this definition.

What types of benefits are available?

There are multiple different types of disability benefits that a person may be eligible for: disability insurance benefits (DIB), supplemental security income (SSI), disability widow/widower benefits, and disabled child benefits. Depending on the unique facts of your case, you may be eligible for one or more types. The medical rules are the same for each type, meaning that you must be equally disabled to qualify for one as you would for another. The difference between these types lies in the non-medical requirements.

Am I eligible for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)?

In order to be eligible for DIB, you must be declared disabled and have worked and paid a set amount of Social Security tax over a period of time. This tax appears as a FICA deduction on your paycheck, or as a Social Security tax if you are self-employed. Qualified individuals will have paid this tax for at least 20 calendar quarters of the last 40 quarters before their total disability began. Put another way, you must be able to show that you worked and paid this tax for five of the last ten years before you became fully disabled.

Am I eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI eligibility is based primarily on financial need and is intended to provide support for disabled individuals those with little income or property. The SSA will not only assess your own property and possessions, but also those of the household you live in. Whether you receive support in the form of free room and board, food, and so on, will play a role in determining your financial eligibility. Additionally, children under 18 with a severe disability may be eligible for benefits depending on their family’s income.

Am I eligible for Disability Widow(er) Benefits (DWB)?

This type of benefit is designed to provide support for disabled individuals who have lost a spouse. To qualify, the marriage must have lasted at least 10 years, and the deceased spouse must have been covered by Social Security at the time of their death. The surviving spouse must be between 50 and 60 years of age and be able to prove that their condition met disability requirements seven years prior to their spouse’s death, with exceptions for those who were already receiving other kinds of benefits.

Am I eligible for Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits?

Those applying for DAC benefits must be the child of a person who is already receiving DIB or retirement benefits, or a person who died while covered for Social Security. At the time of application, one must be at least 19 years of age and be able to demonstrate their total disability began before the month you turned 22 and will continue. The rate awarded is determined as a percentage of the applicant’s parent’s rate.

Do I need to hire a representative to make a disability claim?

No, it is not required that you hire representation. Many people are able to complete their claim independently and without issue. However, this is not the case for everyone, and it’s generally more likely that you will win your case with professional representation. Those with multiple disabilities, unlisted disabilities, difficult-to-prove conditions, and those who have been previously denied may benefit from the professional assistance of an Olympia disability attorney.

When can I file for Social Security disability benefits?

You can begin your application as soon as you become disabled. It’s important to note that you should not file an application unless you believe that you will be out of work for at least a full year. In some circumstances, hospital social workers may be able to help you and your family make the first contact with the Social Security Administration.

How do Social Security representatives get paid?

These cases are generally handled on a contingency basis. That means that the representative is not paid unless you win your case; in the event you do not win your case, there is no fee. All attorney’s fees must be approved by Social Security and typically amount to 25% of the back benefits a claimant is awarded. Any additional costs associated with filing are paid out of pocket by the claimant, such as the cost paid to doctors for medical records.

Can I get Social Security disability benefits if I expect to get better and return to work?

You have to have been disabled for at least one year or be expected to be disabled for at least one year. So, if you expect to be out of work for one year or more on account of illness or injury, you should file for Social Security disability benefits.

I got hurt on the job. I am drawing worker's compensation benefits. Can I file a claim for Social Security disability benefits now or should I wait until the worker's compensation ends?

You do not have to wait until the worker's compensation ends and you should not wait that long. An individual can file a claim for Social Security disability benefits while receiving worker's compensation benefits.

I have several health problems, but no one of them disables me. It is the combination that disables me. Can I get Social Security disability benefits?

Social Security is supposed to consider the combination of impairments that an individual suffers from in determining disability. Many, perhaps most claimants for Social Security disability benefits have more than one health problem and the combined effects of all of the health problems must be considered.

My doctor says I am disabled so why is Social Security denying my Social Security disability claim?

Social Security's position is that it is not up to your doctor to determine whether or not you are disabled. It is up to them and they will make their own decision regardless of what your doctor thinks.

If I am approved for Social Security disability benefits, how much will I get?

For disability insurance benefits, it all depends upon how much you have worked and earned in the past. For disabled widow's or widower's benefits, it depends upon how much the late husband or wife worked and earned. For disabled adult child benefits, it all depends upon how much the parent worked and earned. For all types of SSI benefits, there is a base amount that an individual with no other income receives. Other income that an individual has reduces the amount of SSI which an individual can receive. Each year we all receive a report from Social Security about our retirement benefits. This report also has the dollar figure you’d receive if you were disabled. A spouse and children are also eligible in most cases.

VA says I am disabled, so why is Social Security denying my Social Security disability claim?

It is Social Security's position that VA decisions are not binding upon them. Social Security and VA have similar standards for approving disability claims, but the VA has many partial disability programs. For Social Security disability, one must be totally disabled from any kind of work.

If I am found disabled how far back will Social Security pay benefits?

For Disability Benefits and for Disabled Widow's and Widower's Benefit, the benefits begin five months after the person becomes disabled. Benefits can be paid for up to one year prior to the date of the claim, if the medical records support this. For a Disabled Adult Child, benefits begin as of the onset date, but benefits cannot be paid more than six months prior to the date of the claim. SSI benefits begin at the start of the month following the date of the claim.

What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?

The short answer is that Medicaid is a program for people with limited resources, and Medicare isn't. Many disabled people who get Medicaid get it because they are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To get SSI and thereby get Medicaid you have to be poor and disabled. Medicaid does pay for prescription medications. Medicaid can go back up to three months prior to the date of a Medicaid claim. For Medicare it does not matter whether you are rich or poor. If you have been on Disability Insurance Benefits, Disabled Widows or Widowers Benefit or Disabled Adult child Benefits for 24 months you qualify for Medicare. The good thing about Medicare is that it pays doctors at a higher rate than Medicaid. Almost all doctors are happy to take Medicare patients. Medicare does not begin until after a person has been on disability benefits for two years, and it only pays for prescriptions through Medicare Part D.

If Social Security tries to cut off my disability benefits, what can I do?

You should appeal immediately. If you appeal within 10 days after being notified that your disability benefits are being ceased, you can ask that your disability benefits continue while you appeal the decision cutting off your benefits. You may also want to talk with an attorney about representation on your case, but you should file the appeal immediately.

Kenneth N Gormly

1105 Tacoma Ave S
Tacoma, WA 98402

[email protected]

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