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Common Social Security questions

Ask the Advocate

1. Are Social Security Disability benefits only for those who have a permanent disability? No, your disability must last a year or be expected to last a year or result in death within one year.

2. I have cancer and I am presently disabled, but my doctor feels I should be able to work again after my treatment. Should I apply for Social Security Disability benefits? If you are expected to be out of work for a year or more you should apply.

3. How far back will Social Security pay me if I am approved? Social Security will only pay you past-due benefits one year prior to the day you filed your application. This is even if they find you disabled much earlier than that. However, there are other things that come into play here like previous applications, prior denials, etc., so one should speak with a representative who handles these cases to give you an answer to your specific case. In SSI cases you will only get paid from the date of your application.

4. How long does a Social Security claim take? It can take anywhere from a few months to years. It depends on many factors: from where you live to which Administrative Law Judge hears your case. To give you a rough idea from my experience, it takes four to six months from the time you apply until the first decision. If denied that appeal Reconsideration could take another three or four months to get the next decision. It can be another 12 to 18 months before you get a hearing before an ALJ. You then get an ALJ’s decision anywhere from one or two months to many months, depending on the ALJ.

5. If I lose at Hearing before a Judge, what can I do next? If denied at the hearing level, the next step is Appeals Council and an appeal should be filed immediately following the denial.

6. How much will I get if I win? This depends on many things, most importantly, how much you put into Social Security through paying your taxes over the years. Social Security sends out a green printed paper periodically telling you all your work information in regard to paying into Social Security. Also on that paper it tells you how much you would get if you are found disabled and how much at retirement per month. You can also request this information from the Social Security Administration.

7. Should I apply for SSI, SSDI or both? It depends on your individual case. Those with limited resources should apply for SSI. Anyone who has worked for a significant amount of time should see about applying for Social Security disability. Keep in mind many people may qualify under both programs. Contact a representative who handles Social Security disability cases or contact Social Security directly to see.

8. I have more than one illness or injury, will Social Security consider them separately or in combination with a finding of disability? Social Security will evaluate your claim on all of your conditions combined and how they together affect your ability to work. In fact, Social Security must evaluate your conditions even the ones that are not as severe. A representative who handles many Social Security Disability cases can make sure all of your conditions are considered.

An Accredited Disability Representative with more than 20 years experience, Diana Wade believes her clientele can be comfortable knowing that she is recognized by SSA and is a charter member of NADR. To contact Ms. Wade call (661) 821-0494, email [email protected] or visit http://www.CaliforniaDisability.net.