FAQs on SSD and SSI
- Should I still hire an attorney if my request for benefits has already been denied?
- Can I still obtain SSD benefits if I am able to work occasionally or part-time?
- I am interested in applying for SSI but I do have some income. Will this count against me?
- Do I need to hire an attorney before I file a claim for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
- How does my attorney get paid for handling my Social Security Disability or SSI claim?
Yes. The vast majority of claims are denied initially. When you hire an experienced and knowledgeable Social Security attorney, he or she can file an appeal on your behalf, help gather the evidence needed to apply for benefits, and prepare you to give testimony at a Social Security hearing.
In many cases, the answer is yes. The Social Security rules require that you must be unable to engage in “substantial gainful employment” to be eligible for SSD benefits. However, if you are only working part-time or sporadically, you may still be eligible for Social Security benefits as long as your income does not exceed a particular monthly amount.
Social Security does not count all of your income when determining if you qualify for Supplemental Security Income. They do not consider the following—
- The first $20 per month of most income you receive
- The first $65 per month you earn from working and half the amount over $65
- Food stamps
- Shelter provided by private nonprofit organizations
- Most home energy assistance
You are not legally required to be represented by an attorney to file a claim for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits. However, retaining an attorney early in the process provides you with the benefit of legal advice throughout the process and helps assure that the claim that you submit is as comprehensive as possible to give you a chance for an earlier decision. Even if your claim is initially denied, you may have a better chance of success in the event of an appeal if your initial claim was presented properly. Likewise, sometimes the paperwork and other submissions required can be difficult to navigate and understand, especially if you are in pain or under the stress caused by a disabling condition. Some people do choose to file their claim themselves and only hire an attorney if their claim is denied at the initial level. Because the Social Security rules only allow a limited time frame in which to file an appeal, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible if your claim is denied at the initial level. Because the appeals process will almost always involve a hearing before a Social Security judge and submission of a detailed, written legal argument to bolster your claim, your chances of success are significantly greater if you are represented during your appeal.
Like personal injury and workers compensation claims, attorney fees in Social Security claims are contingent on a successful result and are governed by federal law. If you win your Social Security case, you will usually be entitled to payment of benefits retroactively (past due benefits which become payable only when you win your case). You will also be entitled to an ongoing, monthly benefit check. Under the law, attorney fees are calculated based upon 25 percent of the past due/retroactive benefits to which you are entitled but subject to a maximum fee of $6,000.00. There are no attorney fees charged or deducted from your ongoing, monthly Social Security check.