Social Security Disability
If you are awarded disability insurance benefits (Title II), the Social Security Administration will withhold 25% of the past due benefits (up to a $6,000 maximum) and pay the attorney directly. You are responsible for reimbursing your attorney any out-of-pocket expenses he may have incurred during the pendency of your case. (These are usually minimal expenses for postage, copy charges and sometimes doctor’s reports.)
You may hire an attorney to assist you with your Social Security case at any time during the process.
The Social Security Administration uses the following five-step analysis to determine whether a person is disabled:
- Are you working? If you are performing substantial gainful activity, (a specific dollar amount set by federal statute that changes from year to year), then you can not be found disabled. If you are not working or are not engaging in substantial gainful activity, the analysis continues to the second question.
- Do you have a severe impairment? Your impairment must be severe enough to significantly limit your ability (mental or physical) to perform basic work activities.
- Does your impairment meet or equal a listed impairment? The Social Security Administration has a “list” of impairments fully described at 20 CFR §404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. If the medical records show that your condition meets or equals one of these listings, you will be found disabled. If your condition meets a listing, you will be found disabled at the third step of the analysis and no further analysis is required. If your condition does not meet a listed impairment, then the analysis continues to question number four.
- Does your impairment prevent you from performing your past work? The medical records are reviewed at this step to determine whether you retain the residual functional capacity to perform your past work. You may have medical records that show that you suffer from an impairment, but the records must indicate that the impairment precludes your physical or mental ability to perform your past work. If it does, you can be found disabled at this step, and no further analysis is required. If it does not, then the analysis continues to question number 5.
- Does your impairment prevent you from doing ANY other work? “If you cannot do any work you have done in the past because you have a severe impairment, the Social Security Administration will consider your residual functional capacity and your age, education, and past work experience to see if you can do other work. If you cannot, Social Security Administration will find you disabled.” 20 CFR §404.1520(f).
CAN I HIRE AN ATTORNEY?
You may hire an attorney to assist you with your Social Security case at any time during the process. Attorney’s fees are payable only if the attorney is able to obtain benefits for you. The fees are set by the Social Security regulations at 25% of any past due benefits that are payable. Costs and expenses incurred during the pendency of your case are a separate matter to be agreed upon by you and your attorney. These costs generally include postage and payments for medical records, if any. All fees paid to any attorney are subject to review by the Social Security Administration and must be approved prior to being paid to your attorney.
Read more about Disability Insurance Rights Explained