Suffolk County Social Security Disability Attorney | Answers to Your Questions
How “disabled” do I have to be to obtain Social Security Disability benefits?
Our Suffolk County Social Security Disability Attorney answer: In order to be considered “disabled” by Social Security, you must have objective medical evidence to prove your disability. You must have a physical or mental health problem (or a combination of problems) severe enough to keep you from working for at least 12 months. The Social Security Administration will consider your age, education, and past work when deciding whether you should be found disabled. For the majority of claimants under age 50, you will have to prove that you are unable to do most types of work. For those over age 50, sometimes you will only have to prove that you are unable to do your past type of work, considering your education, training and physical capabilities. For example, Social Security may award disability benefits to a 55 year old construction worker with a high school education unable to return to his regular work, rather than force him to return to lighter work.
What types of disabilities can qualify me for Social Security Disability?
Almost anything severe enough to keep you out of work. Some of the most common we see are:
- Spinal disorders, including herniated cervical or lumbar discs, spinal stenosis, arthritis, osteoporosis, compression fractures
- Heart attacks (myocardial infarctions), angina, heart bypass surgery, congestive heart failure, enlarged heart, aneurysm, valve disease, heart transplant
- Depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ADHD, ADD, schizophrenia
- Cancer (blood, breast, bone, lung, abdominal, liver, pancreatic, testicle, ovarian, colon, skin, mouth, prostate, kidney, bladder, sarcoma, melanoma)
- Diabetes, obesity, neuropathy, retinopathy, thyroid diseases, peripheral vascular disease (PAD), high blood pressure
- Asthma, emphysema, asbestosis, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV, AIDS
- Amputations, multiple fractures requiring surgery, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), chronic regional pain disorder (CRPD)
- Decreased vision or hearing, vertigo, tinnitus, stuttering
- Chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, hepatitis, ascites, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, pancreatitis
- Kidney disease, anemia, leukemia, polycythemia, lymphoma, myeloma, sickle cell anemia
- Scleroderma, burns, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, melanoma, hydradenitis, skin cancer
- Seizure disorder (epilepsy), multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, myasthenia gravis, brain tumor, ALS, Alzheimer’s
- Substance abuse, alcoholism, prescription pain addiction, personality disorders, mood disorders
What is the difference between Social Security disability (SSDI) and SSI disability?
Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) benefits are reserved for workers who have paid enough money into the Social Security system over their working lives. These benefits are not considered welfare and they are funded by the prior contributions of workers. In most cases, individuals over age 31 must have worked in at least ten calendar years to be eligible. Your actual monthly benefit amount is determined by how much you individually paid into Social Security. Dependents of those receiving SSDI are also eligible for extra “auxiliary” monthly benefits. Those receiving SSDI benefits are eligible for Medicare health insurance after they have received 24 months of cash benefits.
SSI disability (officially known as Supplemental Security Income) is a government sponsored program for disabled and aged individuals with limited income and resources. There is no prior work requirement to receive SSI, and the benefit is a set amount (often much lower than SSDI). SSI recipients are eligible for Medicaid (not Medicare) health insurance immediately upon being approved for SSI. The disability standard in both programs is exactly the same.
When should I apply for Social Security Disability?
We recommend that you contact us once you have been out of work for three (3) months, or as soon as you think you will be out of work for a consecutive twelve (12) months.
Social Security will only pay past due benefits for one year prior to the date of application. Taking into account the 5 month waiting period for benefits, you should apply no later than 18 months after you have been out of work in order to maximize your retroactive award. The longer you wait the more benefits you may lose.
For those with conditions that are likely to be terminal within 12 months, we recommend that you apply for benefits the day after you stop working. Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP has a “compassionate fee” policy of representing these clients for free or at a drastically reduced rate.
How do I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?
Many people today either apply “online” at the Social Security web site (www.ssa.gov) or by calling Social Security’s toll free number: 1-800-772-1213. However, many also find the application process (which can take multiple hours) confusing, cumbersome and intimidating. Many claimants are scared that they will jeopardize their case by answering important questions in the wrong way.
The good news is that the team at Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP can complete the “online” application and all the required forms for you! Our attorneys have successfully helped thousands of clients receive Social Security Disability benefits at the initial application level. We know how to completely and accurately describe your disability so that Social Security can approve your disability claim as soon as possible. Let us help you with Social Security so you can concentrate on improving your health!
Will Social Security send me out for a medical exam?
Possibly. This is a decision that Social Security and/or an Administrative Law Judge makes on a case by case basis. Do not rely on the Social Security exam to provide the medical information necessary to win your case. These exams are often brief and the doctor may or may not be on your side. We prefer to work with and educate your treating physician to win your case, even if you believe he/she may not support your disability claim.
How long will it take to win my Social Security Disability case?
Even with our office pushing the Social Security Administration to make a favorable decision as soon as possible, it often takes Social Security 3 – 5 months to make a decision on your initial application (unless your condition is so severe that it qualifies for a “Compassionate Allowance”, in which case it can be as quick as 6 -8 weeks). If you are denied like 65% of most claims, you will then have to “Request a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge”. It could take an additional 6 to 18 months to have a hearing before a Judge.
However, our office is often successful in shortening the time periods on appeal by persuading Judges to issue favorable decisions without the need for a formal hearing. We will gather all the important medical evidence early in the appeal stage and write a letter to the Judge stating our legal theory on why you are disabled and requesting a “favorable decision” without a hearing. Depending on the facts of your individual case, the Judge may grant our request allowing you to obtain benefits months earlier than normal.
When do I get Medicare, how much does it cost, and what does Medicare cover?
You will be automatically enrolled in Medicare health insurance after you have received two years of monthly benefits. Medicare has four parts:
- Hospital insurance (Part A) helps pay hospital bills and some follow-up care. The taxes you paid while you were working financed this coverage, so it’s premium free.
- Medical insurance (Part B) helps pay doctors’ bills and other services. There is a monthly premium you must pay for Medicare Part B and you have the option to refuse this coverage.
- Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans generally cover many of the same benefits of parts A and B, but may offer additional coverage similar to Medigap policies. Joining a Medicare Advantage plan is voluntary and you may pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage.
- Prescription drug coverage (Part D) helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for treatment. Anyone who has Medicare hospital insurance (Part A), medical insurance (Part B) or a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) is eligible for prescription drug coverage (Part D). Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary and you may pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage.
Do I need an attorney to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
No. You can apply on your own either by phone or online. However, Social Security statistics show that claimants who are represented by attorneys are far more likely to win than those who are not. At Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP, our attorneys have a track record of winning over 92% of the cases we have taken over the past 21 years.
Why is our winning percentage so high? We do not take every case that comes through the door like some other firms. We carefully screen cases so that we only take credible claims for disability. That’s what gives us the excellent legal reputation we have earned at Social Security. The percentage of claims we win at both the initial level and at the hearing level is far above the national averages of claims otherwise approved.
Does your legal fee depend on winning my Social Security case?
Yes. Our office takes almost all Social Security Disability cases on a contingency basis – meaning we do not get paid unless we win your case. Social Security has the power to approve all attorney fees and all attorneys (and so called “Advocates”) are generally paid the same. In most of our cases Social Security will approve a fee of 25% of any retroactive benefits for you and your family up to a maximum fee of $6,000.00, whichever is less. For example, if after winning your case you are entitled to $8,000.00 in retroactive benefits, Social Security will deduct $2,000.00 from this amount as our fee and send it directly to us. Generally, you never have to pay us directly. There are still some lawyers and representatives who choose to petition Social Security for fees greater than 25% of past due benefits. We never do.
Do I have to be turned down by Social Security before I can hire an attorney?
No, in fact our fee will probably be the same whether you hire us at the beginning of your case or near the end of it. It’s based on a 25% contingency fee so you might as well have the benefit of your attorney’s advice at the start of your case.
What is the difference between hiring a Social Security Disability attorney and an “Advocate?”
“Advocates,” such as Binder & Binder, Allsup, Freedom Disability and the Advocator Group, are not law firms and cannot appeal your case to federal court if necessary. In addition, they are not bound by the ethical rules of your state bar association. This can sometimes lead to conflicts of interest when some of these groups represent long term disability insurance companies who seek to eventually deny your claim. NEVER use the group referred to you by a long term disability insurance company as your Social Security Representative if you are concerned about your privacy. Finally, because “Advocates” are not constrained by attorney advertising rules, this allows them to make misleading claims such as “Most Successful Social Security Disability Advocates.” An “advocate” can make this claim simply by doing a high volume of cases and only wining 60%! Is this the type of group you want representing you when your economic future depends on winning your claim?
Finally, attorneys cost no more than so called “advocates” to represent you. Why eat hamburger when you can have steak at the same cost? Regardless of who you choose to represent you, here are a few tips:
- Always hire a local attorney who knows the judges in your area.
- Always ask if you can speak to an attorney before hiring the law firm.
- Hire the attorney that you personally feel comfortable with – you will have to establish a good relationship with the attorney to win your case.
What will Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP do for me?
We will review or help you to complete all necessary forms. We will then file them electronically with Social Security which will speed your case along. We will contact your doctors in order to collect all the necessary medical information required to win your case. We will deal with the Social Security Administration to make sure that your case moves through the system as quickly as possible. If your case is appealed to a hearing before a judge, we will develop your electronic claims file and make sure that you are fully prepared to testify credibly regarding your medical condition(s) and symptoms. Once we win your case, we will review your benefits award notice and make sure that you continue to receive your benefits so long as you are unable to work. If your case is reviewed to determine your eligibility for ongoing benefits at a later time, we will be there to help – just like we have been doing for clients the past 21 years.
At Turley, Redmond, Rosasco & Rosasco, L.L.P., our goal is to provide outstanding legal representation with compassion. Other law firms often cannot (or choose not) to attempt this high standard. However, we believe that treating our clients the way we ourselves would like to be treated should be the norm, not the exception. We are confident that if we do so, you will gladly recommend your friends and family to our firm if needed. Thank you for considering our law firm.
Turley Redmond Rosasco & Rosasco, LLP
Suffolk County Social Security Disability Attorney
Manhattan: 767 Third Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10017
Queens: 70-50 Austin St., Suite 105; Forest Hills, NY 11375
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Suffolk: 3075 Veterans Memorial Highway; Ronkonkoma, NY 11779
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