FAQ – Social Security Disability


How do I go about applying for Social Security disability benefits?
I have a number of health problems. All of these problems keep me from working. What are my chances of getting Social Security disability benefits?
If I have a mental illness, such as depression, manic depressive, or anxiety disorder, can I still apply for Social Security disability?
How does Social Security determine if I am disabled?
How long does it take for Social Security to make a decision on a claim for Social Security disability benefits?
Social Security denied my claim. Now what?
How long does it take for Social Security to make a reconsideration determination on a disability claim?
What are my chances of winning at reconsideration?
How long before I have a hearing on my Social Security disability claim?
What happens at my Social Security hearing?
Do I need a lawyer to represent me in my Social Security disability claim?
How does a lawyer get paid?
I got hurt at work. Can I get both worker’s compensation and Social Security disability benefits?
Will I get Medicare if I get Social Security disability benefits?

How do I go about applying for Social Security disability benefits?

Simply, go to the nearest Social Security office in person and file the claim. Because of the wait time, we suggest you contact Social Security by telephone and arrange a time to complete the application. Social Security will take your application over the phone or you may go online and file electronically.
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I have a number of health problems. All of these problems keep me from working. What are my chances of getting Social Security disability benefits?

Under the law, SSA must consider the “combination of impairments” that an individual suffers in determining disability. Indeed, most claimants have more than one health problem and the combined effects of all of the health problems must be considered.
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If I have a mental illness, such as depression, manic depressive, or anxiety disorder, can I still apply for Social Security disability?

Yes. Mental illness is a frequent basis for awarding Social Security disability benefits.
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How does Social Security determine if I am disabled?

Social Security gathers your medical records and considers all of your health problems, as well as your age, education, and work experience. Social Security uses a five-step determination process: whether you are substantially, gainfully employed; whether you have a severe impairment; whether your impairment meets a listing level; whether you are able to do your past relevant work; and whether there is any other work which you can do considering your health problems and your age, education, and work experience.
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How long does it take for Social Security to make a decision on a claim for Social Security disability benefits?

In most cases, Social Security makes the initial determination within four months.
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Social Security denied my claim. Now what?

Many Social Security disability claims are denied at the initial level. If you are denied at the initial level and have not returned to work, you can appeal. To do this, file a request for reconsideration. You may also wish to consult an attorney at this juncture.
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How long does it take for Social Security to make a reconsideration determination on a disability claim?

In most cases, Social Security makes the reconsideration determination within two to three months.
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What are my chances of winning at reconsideration?

In Wisconsin, a claimant wins at the reconsideration stage less than 15% of the time.
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How long before I have a hearing on my Social Security disability claim?

In Wisconsin, as of early 2013, the processing time is between 12 to 15 months.
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What happens at my Social Security hearing?

Social Security disability hearings are relatively informal. The hearing room itself is like a conference room. Persons in attendance include the presiding judge, a recording clerk, yourself, an attorney that you may have represent you, and witnesses that you may call to support your claim. In some cases, the judge will have a medical expert or vocational expert to testify regarding certain issues in the case. All testimony is taken under oath, although the formal Federal Rules of Evidence generally do not apply.
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Do I need a lawyer to represent me in my Social Security disability claim?

Claimants who are represented by an attorney win a good deal more often than those who are not represented. But, you can go it on your own.
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How does a lawyer get paid?

I represent persons on a contingency fee basis, which means, if you get benefits, I get a fee. If you lose, I get no fee. Generally, the fee is a percentage of back benefits. Twenty-five percent (25%) of past due benefits is the standard rate.
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I got hurt at work. Can I get both worker’s compensation and Social Security disability benefits?

Yes. But there is likely an offset. In Wisconsin, worker’s compensation benefits are reduced because of the receipt of Social Security disability benefits. In other jurisdictions, the Social Security disability benefits are reduced.
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Will I get Medicare if I get Social Security disability benefits?

Currently, a person must qualify for disability benefits for two years before receiving Medicare. If you receive SSI, you have coverage through Medicaid.
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