Social Security FAQs

Suffering from a disabling medical condition is difficult enough on its own, but when it affects your ability to work and pay your bills, it can be even more stressful. Fortunately, there are programs like the federal Social Security Administration's (SSA) disability benefit program available for individuals who are unable to work due to a disabling medical condition. Despite the availability of these benefits, however, it is not always easy to be approved and the process can be long. That is where experienced Social Security Disability lawyers, like those at Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP, can make a difference.

Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Social Security Disability:

What benefits are available if I cannot work?

There are two types of Social Security Disability programs for individuals who are disabled and unable to work: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSDI is for individuals who are both disabled and have worked and put enough money in the Social Security system to earn enough "quarters" to qualify. To be eligible for SSDI, you must have worked for five years within the 10-year period before you were disabled.

SSI is for individuals who are disabled, but who (1) have not worked enough to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits and (2) have low income and assets.

Am I "disabled?"

In order to prove that you are disabled so that you qualify for SSI or SSDI, you must be able to prove (1) you have a severe medical condition, whether physical or mental; (2) which has lasted or is reasonably expected to last for at least 12 months; and (3) which makes you unable to do the work you were previously able to do or any other relevant work as determined by the Social Security Administration.

How do I start the disability application process?

You do not have to be out of work for 12 months to file an application. As soon as you and your doctors have determined you will be unable to work for at least 12 months due to your medical condition, you should file an application for SSI or SSDI benefits. It is important that you apply for disability benefits for all programs under which you may be eligible as soon as you become disabled because of the response time for a benefits decision after the filing of a claim.

An application for benefits can be filed by contacting your local or national Social Security Office or online at the Social Security Administration's website. Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP, has experienced Social Security Disability attorneys who are available to help you with the filing of your claim.

What if I am denied for SSI or SSDI?

Do not be discouraged if your claim is denied. The majority of claims are denied at the first two levels of the process and go on to be awarded at a hearing. If you are denied at the initial application level, you are entitled to file an appeal, called a Reconsideration Request. If your claim is again denied at this stage, you are entitled to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Keep in mind that both appeal requests have strict time requirements. If you do not file within the time permitted, you could lose your rights to that application and have to start the process over again losing months of benefits you could be entitled to receive.

Donovan O'Connor & Dodig, LLP, has experienced Social Security Disability attorneys who are available to help you appeal the denial of any claim.

How do I pay for an attorney?

An attorney who assists you with your claim for Social Security benefits will be paid only if you win and the Social Security Administration approves your claim. If your claim for Social Security Disability is approved, you are entitled to retroactive benefits, covering the months your case was pending. Upon the approval of your disability claim, the Social Security Administration pays your attorney directly from those retroactive benefits in the amount regulated by statute based upon a percentage of your award. There is a cap on the amount of attorneys' fees permitted.

Contact An Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney Today

Navigating the Social Security Disability process is often confusing and frustrating. Having an experienced Social Security Disability attorney who can guide you through and help you understand the process can make all the difference in getting your disability claim approved. Our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys are available to discuss your claim for Social Security Disability benefits at any stage in the claim. Contact our law firm online or please call us at 413-358-4652 in Massachusetts, or 802-681-4279 in Vermont, to schedule a consultation with a lawyer. We have conveniently located offices and other meeting locations throughout Western Massachusetts and Southern Vermont and regularly travel throughout the region to meet with clients.

All cases are handled on a contingent fee basis — you will not have to pay any attorneys' fees unless we win compensation in your case.