What can a representative
do for me?
The Social Security disability claims process is complex. To see just how complex, click here:
Once you appoint a representative, he or she can act on your behalf by:
- Getting information from your Social Security file;
- Helping you get medical records or information to support your claim;
- Coming with you, or for you, to any interview, conference, or hearing you have with
the Social Security Administration;
- Requesting a reconsideration, hearing, or Appeals Council review; and
- Helping you and your witnesses prepare for a hearing and questioning any witnesses.
Your representative also will receive a copy of the decision(s) made on your claim(s).
How does Social Security define disability?
Social Security defines disability as the "inability to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in
death or has lasted or can be expectd to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months."
If I win my claim, how much will I receive?
A claimant's monthly benefit amount is dependent upon many factors. For Disability
Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Disabled Widow's and Widower's Benefits (DWB), the benefits amount is determined largely by the
earnings posted to the wage earner's record over his or her lifetime. The date of disability and the applicaiton date
are also factors. Once a claim is approved, a claimant's dependents may be eligible for additional benefits.
For SSI benefits, the 2006 benefit amount is $603 per month for an individual claimant.
The application date and claimant's financial situation can affect the amount of SSI benefits.
How long will it take Social Security to process my application and/or appeal?
Processing times can vary widely, depending upon where you live and the circumstances
of your claim(s). Generally, from the time an application is filed, it takes four to six months to receive the initial
decision. If it is a denial and you file a Request for Reconsideration, that will take another four to six months.
Following that, a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge will take an average of 12-16 months. Unfortunately, this
is not a quick process and claimants should explore all financial avenues to survive while their claims are pending.
There are certain ways, however, to have claims expedited at all levels. A
qualified representative can advise you whether or not your claim satisfies Social Security's criteria for expedited handling.
How can I obtain more information about Social Security's disability programs?
These are only brief answers. There are many factors to consider when
deciding whether or not to pursue a claim for disability. Call Disability Advocates, Inc., to discuss your claim at
(866) 435-7924. Consultations are always free and most questions can be answered by phone.