Frequently Asked Questions

Is an attorney required to receive Social Security?

Your chances of winning your case can improve if you have an attorney like Donna who understands and has experience in disability law. Attorneys like Donna who limit their practice to Social Security Disability claims are more familiar with the complex regulations and processes. But no, it isn’t required to retain an attorney to get Social Security benefits.

Don’t all attorneys have experience with Social Security?

Much like physicians, attorneys tend to limit their practice to a few select areas of the law. In the same way that you would not want your family physician to perform a coronary artery bypass, you don’t want an attorney who has only a vague familiarity with Social Security to represent you in your claim. Donna is certified as a specialist in Social Security Disability by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and has almost three decades of experience in handling Social Security Disability claims.

Could someone who isn’t a licensed attorney represent me?

The Social Security Administration does allow you to be represented by an individual who is not an attorney. Usually, these non-attorney representatives charge the same fee that an attorney would charge. You should use caution in choosing a non-attorney representative. If the non-attorney loses your case, he or she will not be able to represent you further should you appeal to the Federal District Court. It is, therefore, usually better to hire an attorney at the beginning so that he or she can follow your case through to the end.

What if I’ve already been denied Social Security benefits?

If you previously applied and were denied, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. You should carefully read any correspondence from Social Security and pay close attention to any appeal deadlines that they give you. If you miss an appeal deadline, you could lose back pay or even worse, have to start all over with your claim.

When should I consult with an attorney?

How soon you retain an attorney to represent you is entirely up to you. Many people seek legal advice as soon as they think they have a disability that is likely to last one year or longer. Donna represents claimants at all levels of the appeal process.

Should I consult an attorney before going to a hearing?

We strongly suggest that you hire an attorney before you proceed to a hearing. The hearings with an Administrative Law Judge can often be intimidating. An attorney presenting your medical evidence and legal arguments ensures it is done properly. An attorney will also help gather your medical evidence and obtain opinions from your treating doctors about your disability and related limitations. Hiring an attorney early in the process gives more time for your case to be prepared as thoroughly as it can be in time for the hearing.

What if I don’t have enough money to hire an attorney?

Like most attorneys, Donna handles Social Security Disability cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that if she does not win your case, you do not owe a fee for her services. The initial consultation is completely free.

Am I eligible for Social Security benefits?

When a person works, a percentage of his or her wages is paid into the Social Security fund. Most people realize that this provides benefits for them when they reach retirement, but this fund also provides disability insurance coverage.

How long must I have worked to get Social Security Disability benefits?

Generally speaking, you must have worked a total of 40 quarters, and five out of the ten years immediately prior to becoming disabled for you to be fully insured for disability benefits. Some exceptions apply for younger individuals. If you are covered by Social Security Disability Insurance, you may be able to receive a monthly check, and you may be eligible for Medicare if you are unable to work because of physical or mental impairment.

What if I haven’t worked that long?

Even if you have not worked enough years to be covered by Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be available. The SSI program provides a monthly benefit for disabled individuals, and it also provides Medicaid health insurance for those who have not worked or have not worked for a long enough period to be covered by Social Security Disability.

Are those the only requirements to receive Supplemental Security Income?

Other technical requirements may apply to your case, as these vary depending upon the specific circumstances. You should contact Social Security to find out if you qualify and seek the advice of a certified attorney if the answer Social Security gives you does not appear accurate or you do not understand.

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