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Overcoming the Social Security Disability Hurdles Essential information from a disability attorney Ted Walkenhorst, Esq. Disability Benefits Law Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Overcoming the Social Security Disability Hurdles Essential information from a disability attorney Ted Walkenhorst, Esq. Disability Benefits Law Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Overcoming the Social Security Disability Hurdles Essential information from a disability attorney Ted Walkenhorst, Esq. Disability Benefits Law Center Philadelphia, Pennsylvania © 2006

2 Social Security disability benefits Two types of benefits Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) Disabled persons with a sufficient work history Children of the disabled individual Widow(er) of the disabled SSI (Supplemental Security Income) Disabled persons with little or no work history Disabled children Welfare-like income/asset qualifications apply

3 To qualify for either type of benefit First, you must be financially eligible. For DIB– you must be “insured” Enough recent covered earnings The date last insured. Not everyone is covered. For SSI – must have low income and assets Household income is counted (spouse, parents) Second, you must be disabled. Both tests must be met to qualify. Not everyone who is disabled will qualify.

4 The basic criteria for both types of disability benefits You are not working (or you are earning less than $ gross a month). You have one or more physical or mental impairments preventing you from working. Your inability to work has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months. You meet the disability definition.

5 SSA’s definition of disability There is more than one disability definition. Meeting or equaling a “listing” means presumptive disability. There is an MS listing. Must be unable to perform prior work. In many cases (younger than age 50) must be unable to perform any other type of work. A person will be eligible if unable to “sustain” any type of work (including a simple, sedentary job) for medical reasons.

6 Pre-application tips Be prepared to admit your limitations. Be honest with yourself and with your doctors. Avoid denial. Document your symptoms and functional limitations in your treatment records. Complain to your doctors and have complaints recorded. Disability claims are won on how well the medical records reflect the person’s symptoms and functional limitations.

7 Pre-application tips continued Enlist the support of your doctors for your claim. You will need a doctor’s support to be successful. The best case scenario: your doctor advises you to quit work. Obtain treatment for depression and/or anxiety if present. This always strengthens a claim. Obtain assistance from a disability attorney. Initial advice should always be free.

8 Application tips Obtain assistance from a disability attorney. How to apply (see materials). 1. local office 2. telephone 3. Internet What you’ll need to apply (see materials). The most important parts of the application (see materials). List all conditions; highlight symptoms; include mental impairments (depression/anxiety, etc).

9 Post-application tips How the claim is processed (see materials). The initial decision is made by a state agency. Cooperate with them. The importance of the Daily Activities Questionnaire. Answer with care. Use an attorney to assist in obtaining your medical records and assessment forms.

10 Appeal tips Initial denial decisions are common. Do not quit or lose hope. If a claim is denied at any stage of the process, there are two steps to take: 1) file a timely appeal; and 2) consult a qualified disability attorney. If the appeal deadline is past, often you can reapply. It is also possible to “re-open” some prior denied claims.

11 Summary Know what disability benefits you may be entitled to and apply as soon as you are eligible. Carefully and completely document your symptoms and functional limitations in your medical records. Obtain the support of your doctors. Because qualifying for these benefits is difficult, obtain professional advice and assistance early in the process.

12 For more information Social Security – Toll free: (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Disability Benefits Law Center Phone: Toll free: National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) Phone:


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