Stephen C Hurvitz of Trevose, PA, spoke about Social Security Disability.
A person must be disabled for a whole year before they apply.
There are 2 types which people always confuse. From his info packet, here's what he says:
A - SSI vs SSDI
1. Social Security Disability Insurance - requires disability and is based on work history. No financial evaluation.
2. Social Security Income - requires disability and is based on financial eligibility; similar to welfare.
B - General eligibility standards
1. Sequential evaluation (see attached)
2. SGA - substantial gainful activity
C - Application procedures
1. Phone consultation, computer, in person
2. Role of attorney
COUNSEL FEES (this means attorney fees)
- 25 percent of arrearages or $6,000, whichever is less. Arrearages means "overdue" or "unpaid."
- Difficult process. Most claimants lose after the initial decision, right to appeal to administrative law judge. A hearing will be held where an attorney's presence will help.
- Further appeals to SSA Appeals Council or US Federal District Court. Attorneys can win almost 50 percent of cases filed in US Federal District Court.
- Be persistent.
- If you make more than $1,000 per month, you will not be considered disabled.
EXCERPTS FROM TALK
Most people are turned down on the first attempt.
SSDI is for people who are completely disabled and can't work. When approved, they get reimbursed for the past two years. Medicare kicks in after two years.
SSI is for young people, including children, or if you haven't worked in a long time. They look at your finances, assets, what income is coming in.
- can you do any type of work at all?
- SGA - can you do any substantial gainful activity?
- can you do your former job?
- can you do anything? well, I can whistle.
Different ways to apply:
- come into his office
- have a phone consultation and Social Security will do the application over the phone
- apply in person
Social Security asks you to sign lots of forms. They want the names of all your doctors and all your records, including hospital records.
An attorney facilitates the process, helping you to get forms from doctors, which are notoriously hard to get.
Most important proof of disability is from the doctor, the medical records. Need cooperation from the doctor.
Here are some Qs the lawyer will ask you:
Do you have problems concentrating?
Can you follow instructions?
When under a lot of stress will it cause you to decompensate or get worse?
How do meds affect your ability to work?
If you're turned down in round one, you have to wait 13-14 months before seeing the administrative law judge. Some of these judges do not understand mental illness at all and will deny you, even though you deserve it. It's the 'luck of the draw.'
The attorney makes arguments on your behalf before the judge and tells you how to conduct yourself. You, yourself, may not be the best historian. But family members who testify may give testimony unhelpful to the client.
50 percent who are not approved in the second round, get disability when they see the judge.
A person will not get disability if their first diagnosis is alcoholism or substance abuse. However, if it's a secondary diagnosis, they may.
Some judges are not friendly to the claimant and will pull out stuff from the medical records citing the person's abilities.
Back-to-work programs are in place should a person resume employment. They provide for benefits in case of a relapse.