Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability Attorneys in Fort Wayne
Obtaining Social Security Disability (SSD) including Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be a long, complicated, and scary process. The Social Security Administration (SSA) turns down the majority of initial claims. About one-third of those who file a claim for disability is found disabled at the initial level, the other two-thirds are denied social security disability benefits. This includes many deserving people who are truly disabled. Please do not give up! Let the experienced and caring social security disability attorneys and staff at Perry Law Office in Fort Wayne, IN help you from your initial denial through your hearing. We are here to help you obtain the benefits that you deserve.
We help you:
- Appeal an initial denial of social security benefits
- Request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Gather medical records from your doctors
- Get the disability benefits you deserve
What is the definition of disability?
A person is considered disabled if they will be unable to perform full-time work for twelve consecutive months as a result of one or more physical and/or mental health difficulties.
What is the process to get Social Security Disability Benefits?
Obtaining Social Security Disability benefits (SSD) is a multiple step process. The majority of claims for benefits proceed as follows:
- you file your Initial Claim for disability, get denied
- you file your request for Reconsideration, get denied
- you file your request for a Hearing and have a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This hearing is your best chance to be found disabled if your initial claim was denied. That is why, the attorneys at Perry Law Office take the time to meet with you IN PERSON at your initial consultation and the attorney will meet with you again IN PERSON prior to the hearing, if one is necessary, so we can better know you and your disabilities. It is important for us to understand how your health issues keep you from working full-time. It is also important for us to get to know you, and for you to get to know and trust us. You will not meet us for the first time at your hearing! This does occur with some other social security representatives. Your Fort Wayne Disability attorney will stand by your side and help you prove to Social Security you are disabled. Your Fort Wayne disability lawyer at Perry Law Office will help you file your request for Reconsideration and your Request for Hearing. Once you receive a denial, the clock starts ticking and you only have sixty (60) days to appeal. Do NOT miss a deadline, call Perry Law Office in Fort Wayne as soon as you receive a denial to discuss your options and avoid missing a deadline. Missing a deadline could mean you miss out on the benefits that you may have otherwise been entitled too. Our helpful and compassionate attorneys and staff want to help you. We understand that becoming disabled and then being denied benefits by Social Security can be scary and frustrating. We know the Social Security Disability system is not easy to understand. We will help you file your appeals and other necessary paperwork. To start the process, call Perry Law Office and we will conduct a phone interview and if we feel we can help you, set an appointment to meet IN PERSON.
Benefits of Hiring Perry Law Office Social Security Disability Attorneys
- No Fee Unless You Win Benefits – You never pay Perry Law Office a fee for services unless we win your case and you are awarded benefits.
- Free Consultation – We will conduct a phone interview with you and meet with you in person without you owing Perry Law Office anything.
- Local – We are not a national or out of state firm. Our attorneys and staff are in Fort Wayne and able to meet with you in person. We are familiar with the local medical providers and the local Social Security Administration. You will meet with your attorney at the time of hire and again before your hearing.
- Convenient Location – We are located on the north side of Fort Wayne, close to I69. Our office is all on the ground level with free parking right outside our door.
- Experience – We have been helping disabled persons get Social Security Disability benefits since 1989.
- Helping you through the Process – We will file all the paperwork needed for your appeals, update your medical records when possible get opinions from your treating doctors regarding your health issues, and represent you at the ALJ hearing.
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearings
We seek out and find the necessary evidence to prove to the Social Security Administration that you are entitled to benefits. Sometimes we can do this without the need for a hearing in front of a social security administrative law judge (ALJ). If a hearing is necessary we will meet with you in person before the hearing. This is something out of town law firms or other representatives often do not do. Whether you hire Perry Law Office or not, we recommend you hire a local attorney with an office near you.
Appeals Council Request for Review
In appropriate cases, we assist clients who are requesting review of unfavorable ALJ decisions. This includes providing argument on the client’s behalf.
Contact Our Fort Wayne Social Security Disability Attorneys Today
If you have been denied Social Security benefits or need assistance applying for disability benefits, contact a Fort Wayne Social Security Disability lawyer at Perry Law Office today at (260) 483-3110 for a free disability consultation.
What is the difference between Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security (SSI) Income?
DIB and SSI have some different eligibility requirements. To be eligible for DIB, the applicant must have worked a certain amount and paid the social security tax, contrary to that, SSI is income and asset-based and does not require any work history. The definition of disability is the same. In order to be disabled, it must be demonstrated an individual suffers from a physical or mental impairment, or combination of impairments, which has or will prevent that individual from working full-time for twelve consecutive months or is expected to result in death.
Are there other programs governed by the Social Security Administration(SSA)?
There are other programs which may enable an individual to receive benefits if they are disabled. Among other things, this includes possible benefits for disabled widows, disabled widowers, and disabled adult children. If you are disabled but believe you are not eligible for either DIB or SSI please contact our office for information concerning possible eligibility under other programs governed by the SSA.
What does being found disabled entitle me to?
Monthly monetary benefits. Eligibility for Medicare if DIB is awarded. Likely eligibility for Medicaid if SSI is awarded. Also, the children of individuals awarded DIB may be entitled to monthly benefits.
How long does the process take?
It is not possible to answer this question with certainty. In some cases, decisions are made relatively quickly and in others, they take a very long time. On average, it takes one to four months to receive a decision at the initial level. It takes the same amount of time, approximately, for a decision to be made at the reconsideration level. After a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is filed, it normally can take anyplace from twelve to eighteen months for a hearing to be scheduled. Thereafter, it may take several more months for a decision to be issued by the ALJ. If you lose at the hearing level, it is not unusual for the Appeals Council (AC) to take one year or more to issue a decision after a request for review has been filed. In the vast majority of cases, your attorney does not have the ability to speed up the process. Do not be fooled by false promises. At Perry Law Office we will be honest with you about the time it takes to process your claim and your chances of winning your claim.
Why should I have an attorney help me with my disability claim?
An attorney can help take much of the stress and strain off individuals who are seeking Social Security Disability benefits (DIB or SSI). The attorney will be able to deal directly with the Social Security Administration (SSA) as well as obtaining needed medical documentation and reports on behalf of the disabled individual.
When should I contact an attorney to help me with my disability claim?
Attorneys who represent Social Security Disability claimants do have different thoughts on this point. The attorneys at Perry Law Office prefer to be contacted after the claim is initially denied. Certainly, those who are denied at the next level (reconsideration level) should contact us for assistance as well. The sooner we are involved after the initial denial, the better we can represent you in your claim for disability. At every level of the decision making process after a denial there is a time limit of sixty (60) days, for requesting an appeal. Failing to file a timely appeal could result in the claimant forfeiting any eligibility for benefits to which they may be entitled under the current claim.
What will it cost to have an attorney assist with my disability claim?
We are not entitled to a fee unless the claimant is found disabled and there are past due benefits. In most cases, but not all, attorneys charge the lesser of 25 percent (25%) of the past due benefits or the maximum allowed by law, currently $6000. Representatives cannot charge and collect a fee unless the Social Security Administration (SSA) has approved the fee. In addition, clients are responsible for reimbursing the firm the cost of medical reports and records requested on their behalf.
Who decides if I am disabled?
There are four administrative levels of decision making for disability claims. The first level is the initial level. The second level is reconsideration. At both of these levels, decisions are normally made by individuals who work for state agencies. That is, they are employed by your state government. The Social Security Administration (SSA) contracts with state agencies to perform the functions of information gathering and decision making. If a Request for Reconsideration is denied, then a claimant may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ is a lawyer who is employed by SSA for the purpose of deciding disability claims. At this level, a hearing is usually taking place. The claimant and their representative appear before the ALJ. During this hearing, the claimant has an opportunity to explain to the ALJ why they believe they are disabled. Expert evidence in the form of vocational and/or medical testimony may also be obtained by the ALJ. Medical evidence and other written evidence is usually submitted to the ALJ by the claimant´s representative prior to any hearing date. Recently, a rule passed requiring medical evidence to be submitted 5 days prior to the ALJ hearing. The Appeals Council is the last level of the administrative decision-making process. Claimants who are denied benefits by the ALJ may file a Request for Review with the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council does not hold hearings although written evidence and argument may be submitted. The Appeals Council reviews the judge´s decision and the evidence in order to determine if the judge made any mistakes which require further review by the judge or reversal of the denial. Should the Appeals Council deny eligibility, it is possible in certain meritorious cases to pursue the claim further in Federal Court.
Can I work while my claim is pending or while I am receiving disability benefits?
There are a number of factors which can cause drastically different answers to this question. For this reason, it is best to contact an attorney who practices Social Security Disability law for an answer to your specific question. In some situations, there would be no harm at all in an individual working perhaps part-time while receiving disability benefits or trying to obtain disability benefits. In other situations, work could cause a disability claim to be denied. Working could also cause your disability benefit payments to stop. That said, naturally, individuals who are physically and mentally able to work full-time should continue doing so or re-enter the workforce as opposed to seeking disability benefits.
Can drug and alcohol use or abuse impact the decision on my disability claim?
The short answer is: YES. If an individual would be able to work if alcohol and drug use/abuse were to stop, then that individual will not be found disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. On the other hand, alcohol and drug use/abuse do not necessarily prevent an individual from being found disabled. Individuals who use/abuse alcohol and drugs will be found disabled if they would remain disabled even if all use/abuse were to stop. The occasional social drink or glass of wine with a meal should not influence the decision on an individual´s disability claim in most cases.
Why do some people with medical problems receive their disability benefits and others with that same problem do not?
There are a number of factors used to decide if a person is disabled. Some of these factors are age, education, vocational training, and past work experience. In addition, a particular disease, ailment, or injury may cause different difficulties and degrees of severity for different people. That is, two people may have the exact same illness, but one may be found to be disabled by SSA while the other is not. Oftentimes it is necessary for the Social Security Administration to determine an individual´s residual functional capacity. This can be thought of as deciding what an individual can no longer do because of their illness or injury and also deciding what an individual can still do despite their illness or injury.
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) is sometimes referred to as Title II Benefits. In addition to being disabled, an individual must have sufficient wage credits or quarters of credit to qualify for a DIB claim. Although in some cases it is a bit more complicated, basically an individual needs to have worked five of the past ten years or, in other words, have earned twenty credits or quarters during the preceding forty quarters. These quarters are obtained by working and earning a minimum amount of money during each calendar quarter. Paying the Social Security tax, in part, is like paying the premium on a private insurance policy. The amount of your monthly benefits, if found disabled, depends on the amount of social security tax you have paid. Generally, the higher your wages were and the more years you worked full-time, the more your monthly Benefit will be. Very similar to Retirement Social Security Benefits. The longer the gap is between the last time you worked and the time you applied for DIB, the more difficult your case becomes.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is referred to by some as Title XVI. To be eligible for SSI, in addition to being disabled, an individual, including their immediate household, must have very limited assets and income. There are no work or quarters of coverage requirements as there is with DIB eligibility. A person need not have worked at all in order to be found eligible. In 2018 the maximum benefit amount for SSI claimants is $750 per month. Each year the maximum Supplemental Security Income monthly benefits increase with the cost-of-living increase that applies to the Social Security benefits. These benefits do not always increase but generally, they increase by a percent or two each year.