Social Security Disability Benefits: Getting Help And Getting Paid

If you are in perfect health and have never experienced any serious medical issues, you probably do not think often about the possibility of becoming disabled. However, according to the Social Security Administration, a twenty-year-old person in the workforce has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled in the years before they retire. If you find yourself unable to work due to a debilitating medical condition, you can apply for disability benefits from the federal government. However, there are some basic facts you need to understand about getting help to successfully file a claim, paying legal fees and getting paid.

Getting Help Before You File

While the Social Security Administration provides online and over-the-phone filing for benefits, the actual process of submitting a claim is not as simple as inputting data into a web form or making a phone call.

While it is imperative to file your claim as soon as possible after your injury, you will have to submit a long list of documentation to support your claim, including personal demographic data, tax returns, pay stubs, medical records, pension fund details, a history of your earnings and much more.

In fact, the list of information you must provide to SSA may make your head spin. If you forget any of these details or provide inaccurate information, you risk getting your claim denied. An attorney that specializes in filing disability claims can help you gather all of the requisite data, collect your medical records, prepare evidence and handle any hearings with SSA.

A lawyer can also make sure that the SSA calculates your benefits properly. If you have already filed a claim but received a denial, you should also get the help of a disability attorney to help prepare your appeal.

Paying For an Attorney

If you are down on your luck financially when you become disabled and are stressed out about paying for legal representation, put your worries to rest. Generally speaking, Social Security attorneys will take your case on a contingency basis. They will not get paid unless your claim is successful.

When you secure an attorney, you will enter an agreement that sets a fee schedule. The SSA must approve this fee plan. When your claim is settled, the fees will be automatically disbursed from your back pay. By SSA rules, the fee cannot be more than $6,000 or 25 percent of your back pay, whichever amount is less.

If your disability proceedings take longer than usual, with numerous hearings, or if you are filing an appeal, your lawyer can request to be paid more than the limit.

Eligibility for Back Payments and When Payments Begin

The government can take months to process a disability claim. During that time, you will accrue back wages that will be paid with your final settlement. However, you will only get payments after the date you officially applied for benefits.

Once your claim is approved, you will begin receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits a month later. Disability payments are made electronically to your bank account.

If the government determines that you are poor, with limited income and resources, you will receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments in addition to your SSD benefits. Per federal regulations, payments for SSI will begin no earlier than five months after a claim is filed. During this five-month waiting period, you will not accrue retroactive SSI benefits.

Your disability payments will continue until your health improves and you can return to work. You must report improved health to the government and let the SSA know when you return to work. Be aware that the government will conduct periodic reviews of your case to determine your continued eligibility for disability benefits.

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