What is the definition of total disability, as this term is used by the Social Security Administration?
A person must be totally disabled from doing any job that exists in the national economy, taking into consideration your age, education and past work experience. You must have a physical and/or mental impairment that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity, which can be expected to result in death and has lasted or can be expected to last at least 12 months.

When should I file for Social Security Disability/SSI benefits?
Each case is dependent on its own facts, but generally I recommend that after you have been disabled for a five (5) month continuous period of time, consideration should be given to filing an application for benefits.

What is meant by insured status or date last insured (DLI)?
When an individual files for social security disability benefits, in addition to meeting the definition of disability, you must also have an insured status at the time you are found disabled and must be continuously disabled thereafter. In order to have an insured status you must have worked and earned sufficient credits based on taxable work to be “insured” for Social Security disability purposes. The insured status requirements vary. For an adult, who has worked full-time, they will maintain an insured status for disability purposes for approximately five (5) years from the last date worked.

How do I file a claim for SSD/SSI benefits?
If you have not already filed a claim for benefits, I recommend that you contact my office for a FREE consultation at 888.888.1266 before you apply for benefits. You may also contact the Social Security Administration directly by telephone and indicate that you would like to schedule an appointment to file a claim for SSD/SSI benefits or you may visit the local SSA office in your area and discuss your matter directly with a caseworker. You may also go to ssa.gov and file your disability application or you could write a letter to the Social Security Administration telling them that you would like to file a claim for disability benefits and request that they contact you to do so.

Do I have to hire an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney to apply for social security disability benefits. However I strongly recommend that you obtain a legal consultation, as early as possible in the process. If you have been denied SSD/SSI benefits, it is important that you do not miss your appeal deadline and that you make sure that your appeal is filed within 60 days of the date you are denied, whether an attorney is involved in your case or not. If necessary I can assist you in obtaining medical treatment and/or examinations that will help clarify your physical/mental conditions.

How does an attorney get paid if I hire one?
My office handles Social Security Disability matters on a contingency basis which means that we are only paid attorney fees if we are successful in having benefits granted to you. The federal rules and regulations provide that the maximum fee that can be paid is 25% of the past-due benefits, up to a maximum of $6,000.00, which amount is adjusted periodically for inflation. Any out-of-pocket costs are the responsibility of the client without regard to the outcome of the case and this is in accordance with the law of the State of Michigan and these costs ordinarily do not exceed $200 - $300 unless a very substantial number of records have to be obtained.

Who makes the disability decision?
If you have not filed a Social Security claim previously, the claim is referred to the Disability Determination Service. They will make a decision by one of their trained evaluation specialists or medical doctors. If, on the other hand, your claim has already been denied and an appeal has to be made to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review by filing a request for hearing (HA-501) at your local Social Security District Office. An administrative law judge will hold a disability hearing where testimony will be taken of you, concerning all of your disabilities.

If I am granted benefits what would I receive as far as benefits from the Social Security Administration?

If your claim is for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) this program is designed for indigent individuals and the maximum benefit that can be received on a monthly basis is $735.00 as of 2017 and it is increased yearly for inflation. In addition to the monetary benefits, recipients of at least $1.00 of SSI benefits are automatically entitled to Medicaid benefits, and in many cases, that medical coverage is extremely important for the individual with a disability so they can obtain ongoing treatment of their medical and mental health problems. If your claim is for SSD, your monthly benefits are based on your earnings. You will be entitled to Medicare benefits once you have been disabled for 29 months from your onset date.

Frequently Asked Questions


Webster C. Tally, Attorney

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