If you can no longer work because of your medical conditions, or if your child is significantly limited by her medical conditions, you or your child may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
To be eligible for SSI, you must be over age 65, blind, or disabled, and have limited resources and income. This program is open to adults and children with disabilities. To be eligible for SSDI, you must have worked and paid into the Social Security system for a certain amount of time, depending on your age at the time you became disabled. Once you satisfy these intial income, resource, and work requirements, you then must meet SSA’s strict definition of “disability.” Read on to learn more.
There are five potential levels of a Social Security claim: Initial Determination, Reconsideration, Administrative Law Judge Hearing, Appeals Council Review, and filing a civil suit in Federal Court. Read on to learn more about what happens at each stage of an SSI or SSDI claim.
You may hire an attorney to help you at any stage of your claim for Social Security disability benefits (SSI and SSDI). You do not (and should not!) need to wait to be denied before hiring an attorney.
If you hire an attorney to represent you in your disability claim, anyone from SSA or DDS, and any other government or court representative, must speak with your attorney before they attempt to speak with you. Your attorney will be the "middle person" between you and SSA, and should provide SSA with any medical or other evidence SSA needs to approve your claim.
Your attorney will only get paid if you are awarded back benefits. If you are not awarded back benefits, your attorney will not receive a fee for her legal services. However, whether or not you are approved for benefits, your attorney may require you to pay for expenses, such as any costs to obtain your medical records.