1. How do I prove I am “disabled”?
Social Security defines adult “disability” as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (work) because of medical or mental problems which have prevented you from working for twelve months or are expected to prevent you from working for twelve months.
2. When should I apply for disability benefits?
As soon as you and your doctor decide that it looks like you will be unable to return to work within twelve months. You DO NOT need to wait until twelve months passes to file.
3. How do I apply for benefits?
You can call either your local Social Security Office or the toll free national number: 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment, or you can file online at www.ssa.gov. If you need to file for SSI make sure you talk to SSA (you cannot file online for SSI).
4. What information will I need to file an application?
You will need to identify the date you last worked,when you feel you became disabled and basic information about yourself such as your address, your date of birth, your Social Security number, and so on. Social Security will then tell you what else they need to know, like your medical treatment information and work history.
5. When can I expect an answer?
The length of time can vary a great deal from one person to another because each person’s case is different. Very generally, you can expect your first answer back in three to five months.
6. Can I appeal if my claim is denied?
Yes. It is usually better to appeal than to start all over again. There is always a time limit on your appeal rights so you usually want to appeal as soon as possible.
7. Do I need to hire a lawyer?
No. Statistics show, however, that you have a better chance to be approved if you hire an experienced attorney. Only an attorney can appeal your case to Federal court if appropriate. In our experience there is a chance of winning your case earlier if an attorney represents you.
8. When should I hire a lawyer?
As early in the process as possible. This gives your attorney more time to work with you and your doctors to get the best evidence possible.
9. What can I expect if I hire The Law Office of Cynthia Strom?
One of our qualified staff will gather information from you when you contact our office and schedule an appointment to meet with our attorney. At that appointment our attorney will review your case and discuss how our office will be able to help you. Additionally, our attorney and staff will assist you in accessing local community and medical resources to support you through out this process. There is no charge for the initial appointment.
10. How can I afford to hire a lawyer if I am not able to work?
We will only charge you a fee if we can help you win your case. Generally we do not expect you to repay costs until your case is completed.
11. Can I request a hearing by a Social Security Judge?
Yes. This is usually where you will have your best and most realistic chance to win your case. You can only request a hearing after your claim has been denied initially and on reconsideration. The hearing is where a lawyer can help you the most. It is not a trial but your testimony at the hearing can be the most important part of your case. You want to have a lawyer who has been successful at hearings in the past and who knows you and your case to prepare you for your testimony.
12. What is Medicare?
Medicare is a federal health insurance for people age 65 and older and for individuals with disabilities. If you start receiving disability insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration, you will be eligible for Medicare after a waiting period of two years from your date of entitlement for cash benefits.
13. What is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a program sponsored by the federal government and administered by states that is intended to provide health care and health-related services to low-income individuals. If you start receiving Supplemental Security Income, you will be eligible to receive Medicaid.