Social Security Disability FAQ’s
Q. Why does it take so long?
A. This is a complicated question and answers vary. The process is inherently long and filled with a lot of “red tape.” There are several forms that must be completed and submitted by the claimant for reviewed.
SSA will then order all your medical records and, depending on your medical provider, the records may come as quickly as a few days or it can take up to several weeks. You may also be sent out for a physical or mental examination at the expense of SSA. The exam can take several weeks to schedule and additional time will be needed for the Medical Examiner to write their report. Once all of this information is compiled, it will be thoroughly reviewed.
Unfortunately, the SSA is overwhelmed with disability claimants, and Administrative Law Judges have nearly unmanageable caseloads. These are the reasons why it takes as long as it does to get your hearing.
Q. Can Rennie Law, LLC speed up the process?
A. There are several things we can do to help expedite your claim. First, we can make sure your case does not fall through the cracks. We ensure your paperwork is complete and accurate. Rennie Law, LLC also files your Appeal immediately. We do not delay and use up the 60 days before the appeals deadline. The Appeal is filed typically on the same day we receive the denial. We also make sure the local office is doing their job and constantly pushing them to make their decision in a timely manner.
Our office can also request an On The Record Decision (“OTR”). With supporting evidence, that Rennie Law, LLC will help generate, we can write an informal legal brief requesting that your case be awarded benefits without you having to appear at a hearing. This can be done within the first few months we have requested your hearing. In essence, we are outlining your case and telling SSA that your case is so strong that a hearing is not required and you should receive benefits immediately. This is only done on very strong cases.
We can also request an Expedited Hearing if you are in dire need. For example, you are, or are about to become, homeless, or you have been given a terminal diagnosis by a Medical Doctor. Our office will write a letter to the Chief Administrative Law Judge requesting s/he expedites your hearing for one or more of these reasons. This is at the discretion of the Judge.
Q. How do SSA disability lawyers get paid?
A. Rennie Law, LLC only gets paid if you win your case. There are no out-of-pocket attorney’s fees. If your claim is successful, the attorney gets paid out of the retroactive benefits you may receive. Your retroactive benefits are calculated from the date you became disabled, as determined by the Judge. For an SSI application, the earliest you are eligible for benefits is the date you filed your application. For a DIB application, the earliest you are eligible for benefits is 12 months prior to your filing date. Attorneys are paid 25% of your retroactive benefits or $6,000, whichever is less. For example, if your back benefits at the time of the hearing are $5,000, the attorney would be paid $1250. If your back benefits are $50,000, the attorney would be paid $6,000. After you are awarded benefits, you keep 100% of your ongoing monthly benefits.
Q. How long do I have to wait after becoming disabled before I can file a claim for SSA Disability benefits?
A. Not even one day! Many people believe that you have to wait at least a year before applying for SSA Disability Benefits once they have become disabled. This is not true. In fact, you can apply for your disability benefits with the SSA Administration as soon as you stop work due to illness, impairment, or disability.
Q. How can my doctor support my claim?
A. One of the most important pieces of evidence in your claim, other than your medical records, is what is called a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment Questionnaire. These are questionnaires you provide to your treating doctors and/or psychologists. The questionnaires ask specially drafted questions to help prove your disability under the SSA rules and regulations. At Rennie Law, LLC, we understand the importance of building your case file to give you the best chance of prevailing, and we work directly with your doctors to assist them with supporting your claim.
Q. If I have not worked for a while, or have never worked, and I have become disabled, can I still qualify for SSA Disability Benefits?
A. Maybe. If you have worked five out of the last ten years and paid into SSA before becoming disabled, you may have enough work history to qualify for SSA Disability Benefits. You may also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), even if you have never worked, depending on your household income and other resources.
Q. If I am currently drawing worker’s compensation, can I file a claim for SSA Disability benefits now, or should I wait until the workers compensation ends?
A. You do not have to wait until your worker’s compensation ends. You can file a claim for SSA disability benefits while receiving worker’s compensation benefits. In fact, because the process can take so long, we recommend you file a claim right away.
Q. What do I do if they deny my case?
A. Many people go through the hassle of filling out all of the applications and then fail to appeal a denial. If you get denied, call us and we can file your appeal for you. Remember the odds are in your favor if you keep appealing to the hearing level. While 60% to 65% of people are denied at the initial level, approximately 60% of people are awarded benefits at the hearing level. It is very important that you appeal any denial you receive within the 60-day timeframe.
If you have specific questions about your case, or would like to learn more about how your claim is being processed, please call Rennie Law, LLC at (541) 414-0300.
Rennie Law, LLC
336 W. 6th Street
Medford, OR 97501
Telephone: (541) 414-0300 Fax: (541) 414-0303