Social Security Disability – FAQs

Our goal is to make sure you understand what is happening to you and what to expect throughout every aspect of the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits.

Social Security Disability – Frequently Asked Questions

Worried About Paying for Disability Benefits Representation?

If you are considering applying for Social Security disability (SSD) or SSI benefits, you may be wondering whether you can afford to hire an attorney to represent you.

At Hiller Comerford Injury & Disability Law, PLLC, we are dedicated to making our legal services for Social Security disability clients affordable by limiting our fees to a percentage of past due benefits.

Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your concerns about affording a lawyer.

We Charge No Fees Unless We Are Successful

At Hiller Comerford Injury & Disability Law, PLLC, we will charge you no fees unless and until you obtain actual cash benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If your claim is approved, you should receive two types of benefits.

Past due benefits are the benefits you are owed for the months that you waited to obtain a favorable decision. This may include benefits for time periods when you tried to work.
Monthly benefits will continue to be paid to you every month after your claim is approved until you start receiving Social Security retirement benefits, or if your medical condition improves. We never collect a fee out of your future benefits.

The fee for all of our services is 25 percent of your past due benefits. Once we are paid that amount, we will not charge a fee on any of your monthly benefits going forward. The full amount of those payments will be yours to keep.

Making Sure Everyone Has a Chance to Apply

Most people who apply for Social Security disability or SSI have little or no income or savings. It does not make sense to ask people in this situation to pay a lawyer upfront or to pay legal fees if their claims turn out not to be successful.

Our fee arrangement — called a contingency fee — allows all of our clients to apply for the benefits they deserve with the help of qualified attorneys. We take on the full risk when it comes to the possibility that your claim will be denied. To learn more, contact us today.

Seeking Medical Evidence to Support Your SSD Claim

In order to obtain any type of Social Security disability (SSD) or SSI benefits, you will need to present medical evidence of your disability. You may be wondering how you will be able to afford the kind of medical evaluation you need in order to get this evidence.

At Hiller Comerford Injury & Disability Law, PLLC, we can guide you toward getting the medical evidence you need to apply for SSD. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your options.

Understanding Potential Sources of Medical Coverage

One major reason why people apply for disability benefits is to get access to medical coverage. Until you succeed at obtaining benefits, however, you may need to rely on other options. Some of the most common sources of payment for medical treatment are:

Private health insurance: If you have access to insurance through a spouse or parent, or if you have purchased continuing COBRA coverage after leaving your job, you should contact your insurer to find out what they will cover.
Medicaid: If you are eligible for public assistance, you may be able to enroll in New York’s Medicaid program and obtain medical coverage that way.
Workers’ compensation: If your disability is the result of a workplace accident or occupational illness, you may be entitled to medical treatment through workers’ compensation.
Out-of-pocket payment: Some doctors may allow you to pay for medical treatment on a deferred or installment-based payment plan.

It is important for you to make the most of doctors’ visits by talking to a lawyer to find out what information you will need for your SSD or SSI application. Our attorneys are experienced at working with clients’ doctors to obtain the medical evidence needed to prove you are disabled.

We would be happy to answer any general questions about the best strategies for getting medical attention and evidence before applying for SSD or appealing a denied claim. To discuss your case with an experienced disability benefits lawyer, contact us today.

Seeking Disability Benefits? Considering Going Back to Work?

Many people who are applying for Social Security disability (SSD) and SSI benefits would like to go back to work if possible, but are not sure how an attempt to work will affect their chances of eventually getting approved for benefits.

At Hiller Comerford Injury & Disability Law, PLLC, we advise clients on their work options while they are pursuing SSD. Contact us to set up a free consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer.

Understanding the General Impact of Work on SSD Claims

The first thing you should do when deciding whether you should try to work is consult your doctor. If he or she tells you that attempting to work would be detrimental to your health, you should probably take that advice.

If, on the other hand, your doctor says that trying to work will not hurt you medically, it can have several benefits when it comes to your Social Security claim.

If you are successful at holding down a job, you will probably be making more money than you could get through SSD. Also, you may still be eligible for SSD benefits for any time you spent away from work, as well as up to nine months after you return to work under SSA’s Trial Work regulation.
If you are unsuccessful at holding down a job, that can strengthen your case by showing the Social Security Administration that you tried to work but were not able to. Also, you may still be entitled to benefits for the unsuccessful work attempt period.

Generally, we do not discourage anyone from trying to work while pursuing a claim for disability benefits. However, every case is different, so it makes sense to consult a lawyer.

Looking at the Facts of Your Case to Make a Recommendation

Our attorneys will advise you on how attempting to work is likely to affect your Social Security claim, based on your current status in the claim process, your specific medical limitations and the possible financial consequences of your different options.

To talk to an experienced attorney before attempting to go back to work while applying for disability benefits, contact us today.

One of the most frequent questions we get is about what types of conditions are considered disabilities under the Social Security disability (SSD) and SSI benefit programs. At Hiller Comerford Injury & Disability Law, PLLC, our attorneys are fully familiar with the legal definition of a disability.There are some general rules for determining whether you have a disability, but every case is different. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer.

The Sequential Evaluation Process Determining Whether You Have A Disability

Many people have misconceptions about what it means to have a disability as far as the Social Security Administration is concerned. Social Security employs a five step process to determine if you are “disabled” under their rules:

1. Are you engaged in substantial gainful activity? If you are working full time or earning more than $1000.00 per month, you are not entitled to Social Security disability or SSI benefits, no matter how severe your condition is.

2. Do you have a medically severe impairment? This step requires that your disability be caused by a medically determinable impairment, and not by other causes, such as a poor job market, discrimination, lack of transportation, or other non-medical reasons.

3. Does your condition meet or equal a listed impairment? Social Security has a list of medical conditions that can be disabling. If you have a condition on the list, and your condition meets the criteria of the listing, or if you have a condition equal in severity to a listed impairment, you are automatically eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

4. Are you able to perform your past relevant work? If your condition does not meet or equal the criteria of a listed impairment, you can still qualify for Social Security disability benefits. At step four, you must prove you are unable to perform any work that you have performed during the past 15 years. If you can perform your past relevant work, you are not eligible for benefits. However, even if you prove you cannot perform your past work, you are not necessarily eligible for benefits. You must also qualify under step five.

5. Are there any other jobs existing in significant numbers that you can perform? This is the most complicated step, and the step where most cases get decided. Under Social Security’s rules, you bear the burden of proving that no other jobs in significant numbers exist that you can perform. If you prove this, you are eligible for benefits. If not, you will be found not disabled.

Our attorneys, working with your doctor, will help you determine whether you have a claim for disability insurance or SSI benefits. Contact us to learn more about your options.

Answers to Your Questions about Veterans Benefits

Applying for veterans disability benefits can be a complex and challenging process. Veterans and their families often have questions about whether they are eligible for benefits and how they can obtain them. At Hiller Comerford Injury & Disability Law, PLLC, our attorneys can answer your questions and guide you through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system.

Who Qualifies for Veterans Affairs Disability Benefits?

Veterans who were injured or became ill while on active duty in the U.S. armed forces are eligible for veterans disability benefits. Veterans who had pre-existing injuries or illnesses that were worsened by military service are also covered. Some conditions may be connected to military service even though they may not have appeared during military service or were not disabling until after the service ended.

What Kinds of Conditions Make Me Eligible for Veterans Disability Benefits?

Conditions that were incurred or aggravated while serving on active duty in the military are eligible for veterans benefits. These may include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), exposure to toxic chemicals such as Agent Orange, amputations and traumatic brain injuries. Many other injuries and illnesses can also qualify veterans for benefits.

How Is the Amount of Compensation Determined?

The amount of compensation is determined by the severity of the claimant’s disability. Typically, medical records and a VA medical examination are used to establish a disability rating, which determines the amount of the monthly payment.

Can I Appeal a Denial of Benefits?

If your initial application for veterans disability benefits is denied or if you disagree with your disability rating, you have the right to appeal. You also have the right to have an attorney represent you during an appeal. If your appeal is denied, you may file a second appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

What if I Have a Disability That Is Not Service-Connected?

Wartime veterans who have limited income and a permanent and total disability may be eligible for a monthly cash benefit. This pension benefit does not have to be service-connected.

Can Survivors Receive Veterans Disability Benefits?

surviving spouse, minor children or parents may be able to obtain compensation when a veteran’s death is related to a service-connected disability or if the deceased veteran had a service-connected disability.

If you have additional questions about veterans disability benefits, contact our attorneys today. Call Hiller Comerford Injury & Disability Law, PLLC, at 1-866-HILLER-LAW or contact us online for a free consultation. Most of our cases are handled on a contingency basis, which means that we do not charge attorneys fees unless we are successful in your

Does Your Disability Prevent You From Working?

Are you wondering whether your medical condition, or combination of medical conditions, has reached the point of total disability for purposes of Social Security disability (SSD) or SSI benefits?

At Hiller Comerford Injury & Disability Law, PLLC, we can help you determine whether you are legally disabled from working. Contact us to set up a free consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer.

Exploring Both Options for Proving Your Disability

Before you can qualify for any type of SSD benefits, we will need to show that you have a total disability — that is, that you are completely unable to work. There are two ways you can demonstrate total disability to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Meet the criteria for a listed impairment. If we can show that you have one of these specific medical conditions at a certain level of severity, you will be considered totally disabled from working. This is based on the medical evidence that has been built up over the years regarding certain specific types of disability.

Show that your functional limitations keep you from working. Your medical condition may make is so you are unable to do certain things, like lift more than X pounds or concentrate for more than Y minutes. If we can prove those limitations and prove that they prevent you from doing a job, you will be considered totally disabled.

Our attorneys are not in the habit of putting all our eggs in one basket. We will collect all available evidence in support of either of these pathways toward showing that you are totally disabled, and we will present both sets of arguments to the SSA if applicable.

Assembling the Evidence to Support Your Claim

Evidence of total disability is largely established through medical records and doctors’ opinions. Our firm will work with your doctor to make sure your records are complete, providing as much support as possible for your disability claim.

In many cases, it is necessary to show that a combination of several limitations prevents you from working. Our attorneys will document every relevant factor in your case. Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss what we can do to gather evidence in support of your claim.

What Medical Coverage Do I Get If I Win?

Most people who are applying for federal disability benefits from Social Security are concerned not only about getting cash benefits, but also access to health care coverage through Medicare or Medicaid.

At Hiller Comerford Injury & Disability Law, PLLC, our experienced disability benefits lawyers assist clients in obtaining the medical coverage they deserve. Contact us today to set up a free consultation.

Making Sure You Get the Medical Coverage You Deserve

If you do not have adequate medical coverage from any other source, a successful claim for Social Security disability benefits will also make you eligible for health care benefits. Which coverage you get depends on which type of disability benefits you qualify for.

  • Social Security disability (SSD) insurance: If you are found eligible for disability benefits through SSD, you will become eligible for Medicare after you have been disabled for 30 months. Depending on your income, you could be eligible for Medicaid during the 30 month waiting period, and thereafter.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): If you are found eligible for disability benefits through SSI, you will also be eligible for Medicaid coverage.

Our attorneys will explain how you can go about applying for health care benefits if and when your disability claim turns out to be successful. We will make sure you get the medical coverage you legally deserve as early as possible.

Answering Your Questions About Health Care Options

Before you apply for disability benefits, and while you are waiting for your claim to be processed, you may be wondering how you can afford needed medical treatment. We can help you identify potential sources of medical coverage, including Medicaid.

Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your concerns about how your disability benefits claim will affect your access to quality medical treatment.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) says that a successful applicant for disability benefits must be completely disabled. This is unlike some other programs and insurance policies that assist partially disabled persons. The disability must be a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least one year (or has already lasted one year) or will result in the applicant’s death. This does not mean, however, that the applicant has to be permanently disabled.

If your application is denied, you may appeal the decision. There are several levels of appeal: reconsideration of your claim; a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ); review by the Appeals Council; and review by the federal district court. You have a limited time in which to file the appeals, however. The advice and assistance of an attorney can help you make a stronger case during the appeals process.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) says that you must not be able to perform “substantial gainful activity,” which means the type of activity a person normally does for pay or profit. If your monthly earnings are below a certain amount (which SSA sets every year), however, you will not be considered to be performing substantial gainful activity. If you are receiving disability benefits but wish to try working, you can take part in nine months’ worth of a work trial period, during which SSA will not stop your benefits if you are still disabled.

Yes. To receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must have both a disability and a sufficient work history. The required work history depends on your age when your disability began; you must have worked for a certain number of years. Your work also must be recent enough to qualify.

No. Your disability benefit will be based on your earnings history, not the specific nature of your disability.

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs are both run by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI provides benefits to people who are unable to work because of their disabilities. To be eligible, applicants must have a qualifying work history and be disabled or blind. SSI is a needs-based program. To be eligible for SSI, applicants must have limited income and resources and be aged, disabled or blind.

Benefits typically are paid beginning in the sixth month after the disability started. The application and decision process may take a long time, so it is best to apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled.

Workers’ compensation benefits may reduce your Social Security Disability benefits, but you can receive them at the same time. If the total benefits exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings, your Social Security Disability benefit will be reduced.