You are considering filing for Social Security disability and you don’t know anything about how it works. You haven’t been able to work and your doctor says that you are not going to get better and no work means no paycheck! You can’t spend all of your money on an attorney so you are thinking about filing the application yourself. What should you do?
What if you could have an experienced Augusta Social Security attorney represent you and you would not have to pay anything unless and until you are awarded benefits? We may help you decide.
Attorneys represent clients in Social Security disability cases on a contingency basis. This means that they do not charge you any fees unless your application for disability is approved. If the Social Security Administration decides that you are disabled, you will get a check every month for as long as your disability lasts. You will not have to pay your attorney any of your current monthly payment. If your claim is allowed, your attorney has earned his or her fee and will be paid from the back-pay that you are owed.
When you hire an attorney, you will sign a contingency fee agreement. The agreement provides that attorney fees will only be paid if your application for benefits is approved. The agreement authorizes the SSA to pay your attorney 25% of any back benefits that you are entitled to. The agreement will also state that the attorney may be paid an additional amount as reimbursement for any money that the attorney has paid during the course of the proceeding. This includes cost of medical records, copies, postage, etc.
What if your application is denied? How are you going to pay your attorney? There will be no need to worry about fees if that happens. Remember, your attorney will not charge a fee unless and until your application for benefits is granted. If your initial application is denied, your attorney will most likely recommend that the decision denying your benefits be appealed by submitting a request for reconsideration. There may be additional denials and additional appeals before your case is over. It may take many months or even years before a final decision is made. The terms of the original fee agreement will still apply.
What are back benefits or back-pay? To answer that question, let’s take a look at the definition of “disabled” used by the SSA to decide whether you qualify for benefits. To be considered disabled, you must prove that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity as a result of a physical or mental condition, or a combination of conditions that is expected to result in death or to last at least one year. Ask yourself this question? When did you or your doctor decide that you were no longer able to work? Was it last week? Have you been off work for a few months hoping that you would get better and be able to return to work? The definition of disabled requires that you prove that you have been or are going to be unable to work for at least a year. If you are like most people who apply for disability, you haven’t worked in a while. You have finally accepted the idea that you are not going to be able to go back to work and you need to have some money coming in. You are going to apply, and the approval process (in most cases) is not going to be quick.
When your application for benefits is granted, you will receive a notice from the SSA. The notice will inform you that you are entitled to monthly benefits. In addition, the notice will include a determination of when your disability began and will indicate that you are going to be paid back benefits from a starting date up to the date of the decision. If you are approved for SSI benefits, the starting date is the date your disability began. If you are approved for SSDI benefits, there is a five month waiting period after the date your disability began before you can begin receiving benefits. Thus, the starting date is the sixth full month after your disability began.
For example, in a ruling dated August 25th, 2016, the SSA decides that, you are disabled and entitled to SSDI payments. The decision includes a determination that the onset of your disability was June 15th, 2015. Your first Social Security benefit will be paid for the sixth full month after the date your disability began or in December 2015. Money owed from December 2015 to August 2016 is your back benefit. The SSA will pay 25% of that back benefit, or $6.000.00, whichever is less, to your attorney as payment of attorney fees.
Accepting the reality that you are disabled and can no longer work is not easy. You have decided to file for disability because you really need the income. You want your application to be successful. The success or failure of your application may determine your ability to take care of yourself or your family. You can file on your own but If you choose to have an attorney, you will not have to worry about coming up with the money for attorney fees.
Our attorneys handle Social Security disability claims on a contingency basis. We have many years of experience and can present your claim in a manner that will give you the best chance at success.
Call us to speak with an Augusta Social Security attorney.