Every person living in Jonesboro – and across the country – is protected by a federal program known as Social Security Disability. This program began as a New Deal-era safety net so that no person would have to fall behind financially just because a disability prevents them from working.
Unfortunately, decades of budget cuts have left the Social Security Disability (SSD) program struggling to do its job – and that means that many legitimately disabled people get denied benefits every year. If you believe you may qualify for SSD benefits, do not face the bureaucratic process alone.
The Jonesboro personal injury attorneys of John Foy & Associates can help you. We have a 20+ year history of helping those who have been shut out of the system – and getting individuals approved for benefits. We can help you whether it’s your first application or your final appeal.
What Are My Chances of Getting Approved for SSD?
The unfortunate truth is that many applicants are denied when they apply. This is true even for people who meet the qualifications and have a legitimate disability. However, it is not true for everyone.
There are several things you can do to maximize your chances of getting approved for benefits:
- Talk to a lawyer. SSD applicants who have a lawyer helping them are much more likely to be approved on their initial application.
- Know the requirements. Often, perfectly qualified applicants get denied simply because they did not understand all of the requirements, and thus didn’t include all the necessary information on their application. Simply having a knowledgeable person walk you through what to include, and how to prove it, can make a dramatic difference.
- Provide more evidence than you think you need. It’s surprising what the Social Security Administration (SSA) will call into question or simply not understand if it’s not spelled out in clear detail. You may need much more than just a letter from a doctor to get approved.
One of the reasons a lawyer is helpful is because we’ve been through this process countless times before and we know what information is often missing or gets questioned. We understand which diseases and disabilities tend to be scrutinized more than others, and we know what counts as “proof” that your condition has disabled you.
Technically, there are scores of conditions that are all considered potential impairments by the SSA. But not all of those conditions are treated equally by the SSA’s reviewers. The better prepared your application is, the better your chances.
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Is It Easier to Get Benefits with a Social Security Disability Lawyer in Jonesboro?
Yes, many people applying for Social Security Disability benefits find that having a lawyer by their side makes the entire process much easier. A lawyer will know what materials you need to gather and how to present them to the SSA to get the most favorable outcome for you.
If your application has been denied, having a lawyer by your side makes the process of appealing the decision much, much easier. There is a chance that you may have to file for a hearing with a judge. Without a Jonesboro SSD attorney helping you, that can be very difficult.
Our firm has been working with Social Security Disability applicants for years, and we know the ins and outs of the process. If you’re still not sure whether it’s worth hiring a lawyer, you can always talk to a member of our team for free. One of our attorneys will go over your case with you to tell you what your options are and how we can help.
How Much does It Cost to Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer in Jonesboro?
Good news: when you hire a lawyer from our firm, it costs you nothing upfront. Our SSD lawyers in Jonesboro work on a contingency fee basis. That means their payment only comes once you get the benefits that you’re applying for.
More specifically, contingency fees come as a portion of your past-due benefits, which is the compensation that comes first when you have a successful claim. For Social Security Disability, lawyers are required to cap their contingency fees at $6,000 or 25% of your initial compensation, whichever is less. That way, you have enough money left over to provide for yourself.
Since contingency fees only come out of past-due benefits, any other recurring benefits you get are all yours. To learn more about contingency fees and how much it would cost for you to hire legal help, talk to a personal injury lawyer who will walk you through the process.
How Long does It Take Before I Get My Benefits?
The process is often slow, but it goes fastest if you can get approved on your first application. If all goes well, you can start getting benefits within just a few months. But many SSD applicants have had the grueling experience of waiting years.
Here are the factors that determine how long your SSD benefits will take:
- The 5-month waiting period. Generally, you cannot start receiving benefits until at least 5 months after the date you first became disabled, which is not the same as the date you applied for SSD! If you have already been disabled for 5 or more months and you apply tomorrow, there is no waiting period at all.
- The time it takes to process and approve your application. The SSA is an overworked government agency and things move slowly. As important as your benefits are to you, to the SSA they are one in a long line of applications – and a decision on an initial application will often take at least two months.
- Once you are approved, you will get back-paid on benefits. For example, if it’s been five months since you were first disabled, you will get five months of back-pay all at once.
- Medicare coverage has a two-year waiting period from the date you were first disabled. If you’ve already been disabled for two or more years when you’re approved, you’ll have coverage right away. Otherwise, you’ll need to wait.
Does Getting SSD Benefits Mean I Can No Longer Work?
No! In fact, SSD recipients are allowed to work part-time and still receive benefits, as long as their total pay doesn’t exceed a certain amount. In 2018, this amount is $1,180 of wages per month, although this limit changes often.
This is allowed for two reasons:
- The SSA knows that just because you are unable to work full-time every day does not mean you’re completely incapable of working. And,
- Realistically, it’s not easy (or sometimes even possible) to get by on the low pay from SSD benefits alone.
If you do work while receiving SSD, you need to be very careful to avoid going over the limit or you could lose your benefits.
What If My Application Gets Rejected?
When an SSD application is rejected, there are four levels of appeals you can go through. The first two of these are quite promising: requesting a reconsideration (handled by SSA’s own reviewers), and filing for a hearing (handled by an administrative law judge).
Either of these steps has a good chance of reversing the SSA’s decision and getting you approved – but only if you identify what was wrong with your initial application and make changes before the appeal.
The other two levels are not helpful for most applicants: you can request a review from the SSA’s Appeals Council, which they may simply decline to give you; and then you can potentially sue the SSA itself in federal court, which is expensive and complicated. Most applicants will not get good results from these two levels.
That means that, in most cases, you effectively have two chances for an appeal. After that, you will be stuck waiting and re-filing an entirely new application. This is why it’s so important to have a lawyer help you with your appeal if you have already been denied once (or more than once).
Talk to a Jonesboro Social Security Disability Attorney for Free
No one has more passion and experience for winning SSD cases than the John Foy & Associates’ Social Security disability attorneys in Jonesboro. We charge you nothing if we cannot get money for you.
Let us give you a free consultation and help you get out of administrative limbo. Call us or fill out the form to the right to schedule your FREE consultation today.