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Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability

WHEN IS A PERSON DISABLED UNDER SOCIAL SECURITY’S DISABILITY PROGRAMS?

Social Security Disability LawyerTo be eligible to receive benefits under Social Security’s disability programs (Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income), you must have a physical or mental medical condition that is severe enough to prevent you from working for at least 12 months.  The first step is applying for Social Security disability benefits. Once you complete the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider your medical condition as well as your age, education, and work experience in making a determination as to whether you meet the SSA definition of disability. However, when you file for Social Security disability benefits, you’re not guaranteed to receive them. An attorney can be of assistance when you need to file Social Security disability claims in Philadelphia, PA.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM DENIED BENEFITS? CONSIDER CONTACTING A SOCIAL SECURITY DENIAL LAWYER IMMEDIATELY

Try not to become frustrated. Approximately 60% of all claimants are denied benefits on their initial application.  You have the right to appeal Social Security disability denials.  It is important to remember that you have only 60 days to appeal a Social Security disability claim denial.  If an appeal is not filed within 60 days you must file a new application for benefits.  This may result in a loss in the amount of benefits you are eligible to receive.  Therefore, if you are denied it is usually better to appeal than applying for Social Security benefits again.  An appeal of a Social Security disability claim can be filed by you in person or by mail.  Social Security denial lawyers can assist you and file the appeal of a Social Security disability claim for you.

WILL I HAVE TO ATTEND A HEARING ON MY CLAIM?

The hearing is part of the appeal process when you appeal a Social Security disability denial. You will appear face to face before a judge to present your case.  Hearings are informal; however, you must appear at the hearing and testify under oath about your medical condition, symptoms and limitations.  Your disability attorney, if you have one, will present evidence on your behalf and question witnesses.  A hearing provides the best opportunity for you and your Social Security denial lawyer to present and win your case.  Nationally, more than 60% of all appeals of Social Security disability claim denials are won at the hearing level, so hiring an experienced Social Security denial lawyer in Philadelphia is typically a smart move.

DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY TO APPEAL A SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY DENIAL?

You can apply on your own and appeal a Social Security disability claim denial on your own and represent yourself at a hearing.  However, statistics show that people represented by a Social Security denial lawyer when they appeal are more successful than those without representation.  An attorney with expertise in Social Security disability law can properly develop your case prior to a hearing, speed up the processing of your claim, and improve your chances of winning an appeal of a Social Security disability claim denial and receiving benefits.

WHAT WOULD THE LAW OFFICE OF LISA M. RITACCO DO FOR MY CASE?

Lisa M. Ritacco practices throughout PA, from Philadelphia to Lancaster as a disability insurance lawyer. She also handles cases in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Because each person, and therefore each case, is unique we may take different actions depending on the facts of your specific situation.  This includes:

  • Analyzing your case under Social Security regulations.
    • Collecting medical and other evidence to support your case.
    • Contacting your doctor and obtaining specific medical questionnaires to analyze your case under Social Security’s regulations.
  • Obtaining your file from SSA and reviewing prior actions taken on your case.
  • Requesting reopening of a prior application for benefits.
  • Analyzing and, if necessary, changing the date used as the onset of your disability to insure the most appropriate date is used and the most benefits are received.
  • Writing legal briefs in support of your case.
  • Preparing you to testify effectively at your hearing.
    • Questioning expert witnesses at your hearing.

WHEN SHOULD I OBTAIN AN ATTORNEY?

You can obtain the help of an attorney at any stage in the process, beginning with when you file for Social Security disability benefits.  The Law Office of Lisa M. Ritacco can help you file for Social Security disability benefits and work with SSA throughout all stages of the application and appeal process, including representing you at a hearing.   The earlier you contact us the better, as it provides our office with more time to analyze and win your case if we need to appeal a Social Security disability claim denial.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HIRE A SOCIAL SECURITY DENIAL LAWYER?

At Ritacco Disability Law, your initial consultation is free! The Social Security Administration must approve all attorney fees.  Most attorneys don’t charge a fee unless your claim for benefits is approved.  Attorney fees are limited to the lesser of 25% of the past-due benefits owed on your claim or $6,000.  A separate fee may be charged for obtaining medical records and other evidence to support your claim.

CAN YOU WORK ON SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY?

One frequently asked question people have about filing for disability is “If you are on disability, can you work?”  And the answer is: it depends. If you are receiving SSI benefits, your monthly benefit rate will be offset by any income you receive.  For 2013, the monthly maximum SSI payment is $710.  Since SSI is a needs-based program you must report any monthly wages earned to SSA.  After the first $65 of earned income is excluded your monthly benefit amount will be the difference between the maximum monthly benefit rate and any countable income (including wages from work).

If you are receiving SSDI benefits, each month of earnings of at least $710 per month is counted towards a Trial Work Period.  The Trial Work Period lasts for 9 non-consecutive months (within a rolling 60 month period)  during which you will be paid your full benefit amount.  Once your nine trial months are up, you can continue working for up to three years in an Extended Period of Eligibility.  During this time, you won’t receive benefits for months when your countable income exceeds $1,040, but you will for any months when it falls below that amount.

 

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