> Frequently Asked Questions

Usually Social Security won’t require you to go to scheduled Government consultative exams. Consultative examinations are normally requested by Social Security only when your own treating physician fails to provide enough information regarding the impairment for which they are treating you.

Should Social Security request for you to attend a scheduled Government consultative exam, an attorney can best advise you on when you can appropriately decline to attend an examination request.

Appeal immediately if Social Security is trying to end your disability benefits and you think you are still disabled! Sending an appeal within 10 days of being notified by Social Security will allow you to request that disability and medical benefits continue throughout the appeal process. It is also recommended that you speak with an attorney about representation.

Once the social security judge awards you disability benefits, it can take anywhere from one to two months for you to start receiving payments for back benefits, sometimes as much as 3 months. Every state has different average waiting times and each judge operates differently. If it takes longer than 3 months, there may have been a mix-up in the payment, so you or your attorney should follow up with the Social Security Administration. When Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is involved it can take more time.  Keep in mind that sometimes a judge will issue a ruling at the conclusion of your social security hearing, but often times the judge will wait weeks or up to 3 months to actually issue the decision.

As your attorney, all we can do is make sure that your claim is processed correctly so that no additional unnecessary delays take place. Because of the slow process, it is important not to needlessly delay getting started.

State Aid Programs while you wait

The waiting time for receiving social security benefits places many Americans unable to work in an extremely difficult situation. Please check with your state to find out what kind of general assistance programs are available.

Local state agencies provide Interim Assistance to social security disability applicants. The following link provides a state-by-state guide to such benefits: http://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/progdesc/ssi_st_asst/. Through this program, you are basically advanced a modest amount of money by the state to help with your living expenses if it seems likely that you are going to receive social security benefits. The amount of any payments advanced through this program is then withheld when you are approved. In order to be eligible for such benefits, you have to apply for social security disability and meet all of the other public assistance criteria except for the receipt of SSI.

If you are awarded disability benefits or disabled widow/widower benefits, the cash benefit starts after a 5 month waiting period (i.e. on the 6th month after the individual becomes disabled). It is also important to note that benefits can’t be paid more than 1 year before the date of the completed application.

If you are awarded childhood disability benefits, the cash benefit starts as of the onset date. However, benefits cannot be awarded for more than 6 months before the date of the completed application.

If you awarded SSI, benefits start at the beginning of the first month following the date of the completed application.

For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the amount you receive will be dependent on how much you have worked/earned in the past. Currently, the maximum amount a person can receive is above $2000/month and there is no minimum amount. Additionally, you will typically a receive a raise in monthly payments at the start of each new year due to increased cost-of-livings, and in most instances your children under 18 will get benefits separate from your own. On average, workers receive around $800/month.

If you are a disabled widow or widower, the amount you receive from SSDI will depend on how much your late spouse worked/earned.

If you are awarded Disabled Adult Child Benefits, the amount of monthly benefits is based on a percentage of your covered parent’s rate.

Yes, there are special social security disability rules for people who are blind or have impaired vision. The SSA considers you to be legally blind if your vision cannot be corrected to better than 20/20 in your better eye, or if your visual field is 20 degrees or less, even with a corrective lens. Many people who meet the legal definition of blindness still have some sight, and may be able to read large print and get around without a cane or a guide dog. If you do not meet the legal definition of blindness, you may still qualify for disability benefits if your vision problems alone or combined with other health problems prevent you from working.

Many special rules exist for people who are blind that recognize the severe impact of blindness on an individual’s ability to work. For example, the monthly earnings limit for blind people is typically higher than the limit that applies to non-blind disabled workers. The monthly earnings limit in 2011 was $1,640.