Common Social Security Questions and Answers in Puyallup, WA and Honolulu, HI
COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT APPLYING FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS FROM THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, AND APPEALS.
How can I tell if I am disabled enough to apply for social security benefits?
SSA makes it easier to be found disabled as you get older. It becomes easier for a few people at age 45, for more people at age 50, for most at age 55, and even more people at age 60. If you're over age 55 and you cannot do any job you have done in the past 15 years, you should definitely apply. If you're over age 50 and have a severe impairment that keeps you from doing all but the easiest jobs, you ought to apply.
But you don't have to be bedridden, even if you're a younger person. If you're under age 45 or 50 and you cannot do your past jobs and you cannot work full time at any regular job that ought to be enough. You should apply.
Nevertheless, being unable to work and being found "disabled" by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are two different things. It is often difficult to convince SSA that someone is "disabled" even when they genuinely cannot work. But it is not impossible.
If you really cannot work, apply for social security benefits. And keep appealing the denials. Don't take no for an answer!
How do I apply for Security Disability or SSI benefits?
You can apply online at www.ssa.gov. In addition, you can telephone the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. When you call, you will be given the option of 1) going to the social security office nearest you to apply for benefits or 2) having your application taken over the telephone. If you choose to go the social security office, the person at the 800 number will schedule an appointment for you and give you directions to the social security field office. If you want to apply by phone, you will be given a date and an approximate time to expect a phone call from someone at the social security office who will take your application over the phone.
You can also apply in person at a local Social Security field office. The Puyallup Social Security field office address is 811 S. Hill Park Dr., Ste. A Puyallup, WA 98372.
In addition, you may wish to contact our office to assist you with reviewing your claim and completing and submitting the necessary paperwork.
Do you have any advice about applying for disability benefits?
Yes. Give SSA all the information it asks for in a straightforward way. Be truthful. Do not exaggerate or minimize your disability.
Should I contact a lawyer to help me apply for SSD or SSI benefits?
A person does not need a lawyer to file the application. However, a lawyer can assist you by reviewing your work history, your impairments and limitations, your "alleged onset date of disability, and your personal statements, in an effort to provide Social Security with the information most favorable to your claim. In addition, a lawyer can prepare questionnaires for your treating doctors regarding your impairments and functional limitations. Even at this initial stage, a lawyer's help may make the difference between winning and losing or obtaining increased past-due benefits.
What happens if I am denied benefits and I do not appeal within 60 days?
You'll have to start over with a new application - and it may mean that you'll lose some past-due benefits. So it's important to appeal all denials within 60 days. It's better if you appeal right away so that you get through the bureaucratic denial system faster. The quicker you can get to the hearing stage the better.
How do I appeal?
You can appeal in one of two ways. 1) Appeal online at www.ssa.gov 2) Telephone the SSA and make arrangements for your appeal to be handled by a phone and mail. 3) go to the local social security field office to submit your appeal. Or 4) make an appointment with an attorney who can complete and submit the necessary paperwork for you.
Your denial letter will tell you about appealing. The first denial letter should read, "Notice of Initial Determination." The second denial letter should read, "Notice of Reconsideration." In both cases, you must submit your appeal within 60 days.
Again, our office can assist you with completing and submitting the required paperwork, as well as assisting you with obtaining additional medical records and reports.
What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to get disability benefits?
Failing to appeal. More than half of the people whose applications are denied fail to appeal. Many people who are denied on reconsideration fail to request a hearing.
Another mistake, although much less common, is made by people who fail to obtain appropriate medical care. Some people with long-term chronic medical problems feels that they have not been helped much by doctors. Thus, for the most part, they stop going to treatment. This is a mistake for both medical and legal reasons. First, no one needs good medical care more than those with chronic medical problems. Second, medical treatment records provide the most important evidence of disability in a social security case.
If you cannot afford medical care, you may wish to apply for state disability benefits, which generally are much quicker and easier to obtain. The State of Washington disability program is administered through DSHS and is called Aged, Blind, and Disabled (ABD). If you qualify, this program will provide you with a cash benefit of $197 per month, food stamps, and Medicaid benefits which can include mental health treatment. Medicaid can be used to purchase needed prescription medications, medical evaluations, and ongoing treatment. In addition, this medical coverage will provide evidence you will need to win your Social Security claim.
Since medical evidence is so important, should I have my doctor write a letter to the Social Security Administration and should I gather medical records and send them to SSA?
SSA will gather medical records, so you don't have to do that. Whether you should ask your doctor to write a letter is a hard question. A few people win their cases by having their doctors write letters. You can try this if you want to. The problem is that the medical-legal issues are so complicated in most disability cases that a doctor may inadvertently give the wrong impression. Thus, obtaining medical reports may be something best left for a lawyer to do.
How much to do you charge?
The Rose Law Offices works on a "contingent fee" basis. This means if you don't win, we don't get paid. If you win, the Rose Law Offices is entitled to a fee of 25% of your past-due benefits up to a maximum of $6,000, if the favorable decision is made at the hearing level or before. If we have to appeal beyond the first ALJ hearing, our contract continues with the 25% contingency fee of past due benefits, but it drops the $6,000 limit because of the extra time and effort involved with pursuing an appeal before the Social Security Appeals Council or the United States Federal Court.
In addition to the fee, you will be expected to pay the office costs associated with pursuing your claim, which include gathering medical records, obtaining medical opinion letters, etc.
If I have other questions, will you answer them by telephone?
Yes. If this page does not answer your questions, please feel free to call us at the Puyallup office at 253-864-0383, or you can email us at Ric@roselawoffices.net.
Get a free consultation today at Rose Law Offices. Call now at (253)864-0383