FAQs

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20 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS):

Q: Should I consult with an attorney before submitting my SSD or SSI claim?

A: Generally speaking, consulting with an attorney prior to filing a SSD or SSI claim may help. We can put forth the best possible presentation of the medical and work history records right from the start. This may also speed up the determination process in some cases.

Q: How can I apply for SSD or SSI?

A: Simply contact your local Social Security Field Office and setup an appointment. Interviews can be conducted either over the phone or in person. CLICK HERE TO FIND YOUR LOCAL SSA FIELD OFFICE: www.socialsecurity.gov/locator

Q: My initial disability claim was recently denied. How long do I have to request a social security hearing?

A: Absent good cause, you have 60 days from the date of your denial from Social Security to request your appeal/hearing.

Q: I missed my window for requesting a hearing. Is there any way for me to still get a hearing on my claim?

A: Yes, if you failed to file a request for hearing in a timely manner and have received a dismissal notice, you can request the ALJ vacate this dismissal within 60 days of receiving it for “good cause”. Although, there are no set criteria for determining “good cause” some suggested criteria can be found HERE under Hallex I-2-0-60:

LINK: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-02/I-2-0-60.html

Q: Okay. But what is HALLEX?

A: HALLEX (Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law Manual) is a publication from the Social Security Administration’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). HALLEX contains policy statements from the SSA’s Appeals Council, as well as procedures, directed to lower levels of the SSA, for carrying out the SSA’s guiding principles.

Q: What is ODAR again?

A: ODAR administers non-adversarial hearings and appeals for people seeking review of their (initially) denied applications for disability benefits. If you request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge, an ODAR Hearing Office is where the hearing will be held.

Q: Generally, how long do I have to wait for a social security hearing?

A: Although Social Security tries very hard to work through their backlog of cases, wait times for a hearing tend to vary based on where you live. Typically, wait times for a hearing may range between 12 and 24 months. Sometimes, a hearing can be expedited in situations of dire need, however, this is seldom granted.

Q: Generally, how long do I have to wait after a social security hearing to get my decision from the judge (ALJ)?

A: Again, there is no hard answer to this question. After the ALJ renders a preliminary decision and writing instructions, it is submitted to an Attorney Advisor to be fully drafted. That written draft is then sent back to the ALJ to be signed, and only then is the decision issued. Typically, this process can last 4 to 8 weeks, although it can be longer based on any number of factors including ODAR scheduling and the legal complexity of the decision itself.

Q: How much can a person be awarded in disability benefits?

A: This amount varies based on the claimant’s earnings and how much they have “paid into” the system. For children, the amount is based on the parent’s earnings. In the case of children receiving survivorship benefits, payment is calculated based on the deceased parent’s earnings.

Q: Can I collect unemployment and SSD benefits?

A: Generally speaking, the answer is no. Unemployment benefits are based on the claimant being both able and available to work. SSD benefits are based on the claimant being physically unable to work. Therefore, you cannot be both able and unable to work at the same time. However, you can receive SSD benefits after receiving unemployment if your condition has deteriorated over time and you are currently unable to work. Your condition must also meet the Step 2 durational requirement

Q: Can I collect workers’ compensation and social security benefits?

A: Workers’ compensation is paid to an employee for an injury or illness sustained while on the job. Generally speaking, you can receive both, BUT workers’ compensation and other public disability benefits may reduce your Social Security benefits once your approved claim is calculated by the payment center.

Q: Can I collect past due benefits on my disability claims?

A:  A SSD (Title II) application may permit up to 12 months of retroactive payments. However, due to a five-month waiting period before SSD payments on a valid claim commence, the period of disability must have commenced at least 17 months prior to the filing of an application. Hence the five-month waiting period can be completed before the 12 months of retroactive benefits began. A SSD claim will not always result in 12 months of retroactive benefits. It depends on when the period of disability started and when the application was filed.

A SSI (Title XVI) application does NOT permit retroactive benefits, but also does NOT require the five-month waiting period for payment of benefits.

Q: Can my children receive any benefits?

A: There are several ways that a child can receive either SSI or SSD benefits. For example, if the child is a dependent of a parent receiving SSD benefits, they may qualify for auxiliary SSD benefits. To receive auxiliary benefits the child must be under the age of 18 and unmarried. If age 18 to 19, they have to be enrolled in elementary or secondary schooling. These benefits are divided equally among dependent children and the amount is approximately half of the disabled parents benefits.

Alternatively, a disabled dependent child can receive survivorship benefits, based on the earnings of a deceased parent.

Furthermore, a child can also receive benefits on their own SSI disability claim if they meet the definition of disability for children defined by the Personal Responsibility & Work Opportunity Act of 1996. The child must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments which result in marked and severe functional limitations, and which are expected to result in death or last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

Additionally, the child cannot be engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA). PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SEQUENTIAL PROCESS FOR EVALUATING DISABILITY OF CHILDREN IN SSI CLAIMS IS DIFFERENT THAN THE ADULT PROCESS AND DOES NOT INCLUDE AN RFC EVALUATION. For more information on the disability determination process for children, please call AJM Advocates at (586) 929-0654. Thank you.

Q: What is a medical or psychological consultative examination (CE)?

A: If the medical evidence provided by the claimant’s own medical or psychological sources is insufficient to make a determination whether or not he/she is disabled, social security may arrange for a medical or psychological CE to clarify the issue of disability.

During a CE, an independent medical doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist (PhD.) will evaluate the claimant’s condition and may also render an opinion as to the claimant’s ability to work/disability. This makes obtaining medical evidence from your own treating sources critical in presenting the best possible argument at the hearing.

Q: What is the vocational experts (VEs) role in a social security hearing?

A: The vocational expert (VE) is typically an individual with a background in career planning and/or job placement. They may testify at the hearing as to the claimant’s ability to do their past work and/or any other work, taking into account the claimant’s physical or psychological limitations (RFC). 

FOR A MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION OF THE VEs ROLE IN THE DISABILITY DETERMINATION PROCESS, PLEASE CLICK HERE!

Q: Does AJM Disability Advocates do telephone consultations?

A: Yes. Call us today at (586) 929-0654 for a FREE telephone consultation.

Q: Does AJM Disability Advocates do in-person consultations?

A: Yes. Call us today at (586) 929-0654 to schedule an appointment for a FREE in-person consultation. We always enjoy meeting new people and will do our best to schedule your appointment within 24 hours!

Q: Where is AJM Disability Advocates located?

A:  51863 Schoenherr Rd., Suite 102

      Shelby Twp., MI 48236

(We are just north of 23 Mile.)

Q: Does AJM Disability Advocates collect a fee if I lose my social security claim?

No. AJM Disability Advocates works on a contingent fee basis and we collect a fee only if we win your claim. Our fee is paid out of any awarded past due benefits. If you lose your claim OR do not receive past due benefits, there will be NO attorney’s fee. If we win your claim, our fee will be 25% of the past due benefits or $6,000. Whichever amount is lower.

Q: Does the Social Security Administration have a website where I can find additional information?

A: Yes. For more Social Security Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) please visit the Social Security Administration’s official website by clicking HERE: https://faq.ssa.gov/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=34019&_referrer=

(Revised 2/13/14)

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