Social Security Disability
Arkansas Social Security Disability Attorneys
If you are disabled and unable to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration provides monthly benefits and (Medicare/Medicaid) to people who meet their requirements of disability. Due to the complexity of the application and appeal process, the assistance of an attorney can be most helpful and improve your chances of success. At the law offices of Nolan Caddell Reynolds, we have a staff of attorneys dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities receive Social Security benefits.
Commonly asked questions about Social Security Disability:
How do I file for Social Security Disability?
You have three options. First, you can simply go to your local Social Security office and ask them to assist you in filing. Second, you can call and set up an appointment with them. Third, you can file online. We at Nolan Caddell Reynolds can often file your claim online for you.
What is the process after filing?
Understand that most people are denied disability benefits on their initial application. Don’t get discouraged. Our lawyers are familiar with the Social Security Administration’s extensive appeal process. The process is often set forth in levels as follows:
- Initial Application – Your file is sent to Disability Determination for review and acquisition of your medical records. Medical personnel with Disability Determination make a determination of eligibility. If you are denied at this stage, then an appeal is generally warranted.
- Reconsideration – Your file is again sent to Disability Determination for further evaluation of your medical file and updating of your medical information. At either of the initial or reconsideration stages, the Social Security Administration may send you for a physical or mental status evaluation.
- Hearing Stage – If you are denied at the reconsideration level, then a hearing will be requested before an Administrative Law Judge. These hearings are very different from what you may have seen from television shows. A hearing generally lasts one hour and is conducted at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review before an Administrative Law Judge, not a jury. Often, the only individuals present include the judge, court reporter and a vocational expert. At the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will ask you questions about your past work, health conditions and how it affects your ability to work. The vocational expert will ask questions about whether work is available in the economy for someone with your limitations. The Administrative Law Judge will issue a decision approving or denying your benefits. If the Administrative Law Judge issues a favorable decision, then you will be paid benefits. If the Administrative Law Judge denies your claim, then an appeal may be warranted.
- Appeals Council – You have the right to file an appeal with the Appeals Council, or to file a new claim if you are denied benefits by the Administrative Law Judge. Our attorneys can assist you with making this decision.
- Federal Court of Appeals – If you elect to proceed to the Appeals Council, and the Appeals Council denies the claim, then you have a right to file an appeal before the Federal Court in your district. At that time, a Federal District Judge/Magistrate reviews your file and makes a determination without the necessity of a hearing as to whether you are entitled to benefits.
What types of Social Security Disability benefits are available?
Title II/DIB/SSDI – This is a Social Security benefit program for those who have:
- Paid into the Social Security program through wage withholding for a specific period (most common type).
- Disabled widow, widower or divorced spouse of a Social Security wage earner.
Title XVI/SSI (Supplemental Security Income) – You do not have to have paid into the Social Security program to be eligible for SSI.
- Your monthly benefits and medical are based on need.
- Social Security looks at your household income and assets/resources to determine if you are eligible.
How long do I have to appeal a denial?
Social Security provides that you must file your claim within 60 days after the date reflected on the denial letter.
What do I need to win my case?
- Medical records – The most important thing you can do is list the name, address and telephone number all medical care providers for any health problems that limit your ability to work.
- Medical opinions – We provide forms for our client’s treating physician(s) to complete on your behalf. A doctor simply putting in the medical records or writing a letter that you cannot work is not sufficient for the Social Security Administration.
- Function/Pain Reports – Social Security will provide you with multiple forms to complete throughout the process. We find that a lot of clients do not take the necessary time to complete these correctly. Be honest, complete and detailed in your answers. What we find, is that most people try to say what they think they can do as opposed what they actually can do. As an example, if a question asks you if you can mow the yard and you can, set forth if there are limitations such as how long and how frequently. The same goes with sitting and standing. Also, if you mow the yard one day, what kind of problems are you going to have the next? A lot of clients have side effects from medications. The medications may cause you to be drowsy or unsafe to drive. It is important that you detail these facts. Also, various medications and health conditions such as diabetes can cause a need for frequent restroom breaks. When you complete the forms, take the time to detail all of the problems that you are having. If you are uncertain, ask your family or friends what they have observed as to your limitations.
How long will my benefits last?
Your disability benefits can be stopped if you improve medically to the extent that you can no longer be considered disabled. Social Security recipients periodically have their cases reviewed to determine whether your condition still qualifies for disability benefits. Also, working after you have been approved can affect your disability. The Social Security Administration has clear definitions as to what constitutes too much income to continue to qualify for Social Security.
How much is my back pay?
In most cases, you will receive a certain amount of past due benefits based on how long it has taken the case to resolve. For SSI, you can receive benefits back to the first month after you applied. You cannot receive retroactive benefits back to the date when you actually became disabled. For Title II/DIB/SSDI, Social Security can pay you benefits for up to 12 months prior to the date you filed your disability claim.
Title II/DIB/SSDI pays all of the back pay in one lump sum, less the first five months. SSI has a process of paying the back due benefits over multiple 6-month time frames.
Do I get medical benefits?
If you receive Title II/DIB/SSDI you will receive Medicare benefits 29 months from the onset date (date you became disabled). SSI entitled individuals will receive Medicaid, and that will become immediately available once you are approved.
Why does it take so long to receive benefits?
The reason it takes so long to get a claim through the system is simply because there are more disability claims going through the system than the small number of administrative law judges can handle.
Put us to work for you
Our office has represented clients at all levels of the appeal process. If you’ve been denied for Social Security benefits, we have the legal knowledge and resources needed to prepare your appeal at the administrative court level all the way up to the federal level. The Oklahoma and Arkansas Social Security Disability Attorneys at Nolan Caddell Reynolds prepare all necessary paperwork and accompany you to all proceedings to ensure you are legally represented and your rights protected.
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