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Read Some Frequently Asked Questions
If you win your disability appeal: Fees are set by the Social Security Administration and are 25% of any past due benefits, with a maximum fee cap of $6000.
In nearly all cases, out-of-pocket costs apply. These are not attorney fees, but additional fees Austin Law Office's attorneys pay for. These include medical provider charges for copies of medical records, attorney conferences with your doctors and doctor's reports.
The Indiana State Bar ethical rules require the client to assume responsibility for these costs if the client is able to pay. We will bill for these costs but will not expect payment unless you receive benefits.
When Should I Apply for Social Security Disability?
Apply as soon as you become disabled, but benefits will not begin until the 6th full month of disability. Supplemental Security Income is paid the first full month after the date you file your claim.
How Do I Apply?
Call the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. Representatives there can schedule an appointment for your application to be taken over the telephone.
You may also call the New Albany Social Security Office, 1-812-948-5288, or go to the New Albany Office at 2656 Charlestown Road, New Albany, IN. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call toll free “TTY” number, 1-812-948-5210, between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM on Monday through Friday.
What Do I Need?
This process takes between 60 and 90 days to complete due to the need to obtain medical benefits. To shorten this process as much as possible, provide all medical documentation to help with your case, including:
Your Social Security number
Your birth certificate or other evidence of your date of birth
Your military discharge papers, if you were in the military service
Your spouse’s birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is applying for benefits
Your children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers if they are applying for benefits
Your checking or savings account information, so your benefits can be directly deposited
Names, addresses and phone numbers of doctors, hospitals, clinics and institutions that treated you and dates of treatment
Names of all medications you are taking
Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics and caseworkers
Laboratory and test results
A summary of where you worked in the past 15 years and the kind of work you did
A copy of your W-2 Form (Wage and Tax Statement), or if you are self-employed, your federal tax return for the past year
Dates of prior marriages if your spouse is applying
The documents presented as evidence must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. SSA cannot accept unreliable or notarized copies as evidence since we cannot verify their authenticity. Don't delay filing because you do not have everything on this list. You can get help.
For Supplemental Security Income benefits, you will need:
Information about the home where you live such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord's name
Burial Funds records
Any other information about your income and the things you own
How is disability determined?
There are several questions that are answered in this process:
Are you working?
If you are working and earn $700 a month or more, you are not disabled.
Is the condition severe?
It must interfere with the basic work-related activities you need to perform.
Is it among the conditions on the list of disabling impairments?
We maintain a list of impairments for each of the major body systems that are so severe they automatically mean you are disabled. If your condition is not on the list, we have to decide if it is of equal severity to impairment on the list. If it is, your claim is approved. If it is not, we go to the next step.
Can you still do the work you were doing?
Your condition must interfere with your ability to work.
Can you do other types of work?
If you cannot do the work you have done in the past 15 years, other work is considered. If you cannot do that work, disability may be possible.
What is disability as defined by the Social Security Administration?
Social Security defines “disability” as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
What Are the Benefits?
You may be entitled to benefits, including the following:
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)
– You are only eligible for these benefits if you have paid a certain amount of Social Security tax over a period of time. In general, you must have paid at least a certain amount of Social Security tax in at least 20 calendar quarters during the 40 calendar quarters before your total disability began.
In other words, you must have worked and paid Social Security tax for about 5 out of the last 10 years before you became totally disabled. There is a different, easier rule for people whose disability began before age 30.
Everyone must prove that he or she became disabled while disability insurance coverage was in force or they are not entitled to benefits, no matter how serious the medical condition is now. If your DIB claim is approved, the monthly payment you will receive is set by your earnings (and Social Security tax payments) during your working career.
There is no minimum rate, and the maximum a person can receive at this time is $1,300 a month. There is a cost-of-living raise in the monthly payment at the start of most years. In many cases, your dependent children will also get benefits in addition to your own.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
– SSI can be paid whether or not a person has paid in enough Social Security tax to get disability insurance benefits. You must be disabled under the same rules as for disability insurance, or be blind, or be over 65.
You must also have very little income or property because this benefit is based on financial need. Social Security looks at all other income and property in the household you live in, not just your own, and the value of any support (like free room and board) you may get from others, to determine whether you are financially eligible for SSI.
Social Security does this in addition to deciding if you are disabled. Also, some children 18 or younger with a severe disability can get a monthly benefit if their family income is low enough.
Disability Widow / Widower Benefits (DWB)
– This is a special disability benefit for certain widows and widowers, based on the Social Security tax paid by his or her deceased spouse. In order to qualify, you must be between ages 50 and 60 and have been married for at least 10 years to the person who was covered under Social Security at the time of his or her death.
Also, you must have proof that your disability was severe enough to meet the rules within 7 years of your spouse’s death, with some exceptions for those already receiving other kinds of Social Security benefits.
If you are awarded DWB benefits, your monthly rate is determined by your spouse’s income and Social Security tax payments. However, a surviving spouse’s pension can usually be paid at the age of 60, regardless of any disability.
Disabled Adult Child Benefits (DAC)
– In order to be eligible, you must be a child of a person already receiving Disability Insurance Benefits or Retirement Benefits, or who died while covered for Social Security.
You must be at least 19 years old, and you must prove your total disability began before the month you turned age 22, and is continuing. The monthly benefit rate is based on a percentage of your parent’s rate. Therefore, it is different in each particular case.
When can I apply?
You can apply the day that you become disabled if you believe you will be unable to work for at least a year. In some cases, hospital social workers can help you to do this.
How can I get help?
You can represent yourself throughout the process or hire a representative to guide you. Most representatives provide services on a contingency basis, meaning that a fee is paid only if you win your case. This is generally 25% of your back benefits and it must be approved by SSA.
Can I get Social Security Disability if I am getting workers' compensation?
You do not have to wait until workers' compensation ends prior to applying for disability. You can receive both.
A combination of health problems disables me. Can I get disability?
SSA considers the combination of impairments that you suffer to determine eligibility.
A doctor says I am disabled. Why is Social Security denying my claim?
It is not up to a doctor to make this claim. The SSA must make an informed decision based on a variety of factors and your ability to qualify on their grounds.
How much disability can I get?
For disability insurance benefits, it all depends upon how much you have worked and earned in the past. For disabled widow’s or widower’s benefits, it depends upon how much the late husband or wife worked or earned.
For disabled adult child benefits, it all depends upon how much the parent worked and earned. For all types of SSI benefits, there is a base amount that an individual with no other income receives. Other income that an individual has reduces the amount of SSI which an individual can receive.
Can I get back benefits?
For Disability Benefits and for Disability Widow’s and Widower’s Benefit, the benefits begin 5 months after the person becomes disabled. But, benefits cannot be paid more than 1 year prior to the date of the claim.
For a Disabled Adult Child benefit, benefits begin as of the onset date, but benefits cannot be paid more than 6 months prior to the date of the claim. SSI benefits begin at the start of the month following the date of the claim.
What if I lose my benefits?
Seek an appeal for your case right away. If you appeal within 10 days after being notified that your disability benefits are being ceased, you can ask that your disability benefits continue while you appeal the decision cutting off your benefits. You may also want to talk with an attorney about representation on your case, but you should file the appeal immediately.
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