Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability Benefits:

Can I Speed Up the Social Security Claims Process?2017-10-27T10:44:36-05:00

Generally speaking, you can do very little to make the Social Security claim go any faster. In fact, the only way you can honestly say that a person can speed up the rate at which the claim is processed is by making certain that they have everything they need submitted when they put the claim in for the initial application. Beyond that, there is very little that one can do. There is something called a dire need request, which can speed up claims under certain circumstances. These are very specific circumstances, however, and are only factors at certain points during the application process.

The Social Security Administration is an enormous bureaucracy that a Chicago Social Security Disability Lawyercan help you navigate. There is really little that anyone can do to make the application process goes through the administration any faster than it will on its own. During points in the process where a hearing is to be held, however, a dire need request may actually be of some benefit. While the speed with which the application is processed cannot be made any faster, a hearing date can be scheduled sooner if there is a pressing need on the part of the person applying. Examples of why people would file a dire need request would include losing their home, losing their apartment, not being able to provide for their children, and other crises.

Getting Social Security benefits can be an agonizingly long process. In some situations, however, filing a dire need request may be a good idea. You can’t make the paperwork go any faster but, if your claim is denied and goes to a hearing, you can always count on that hearing being scheduled closer in time. If you are in the process of appealing a denied claim, your lawyer can explain to you all of different aspects of the claims process and the amount of time typically takes to get an answer on any given claim.

Does any illness automatically qualify me for disability benefits?2021-10-26T07:21:04-05:00

The short answer to this question is simply: no. There is no condition that automatically qualifies you to receive Social Security benefits. However, there are conditions that have their own criteria for qualifying as disabilities as far as the Social Security Administration is concerned. These criteria alone, however, do not determine whether or not any individual gets Social Security benefits at all. The determination of whether somebody is disabled is more complex than assessing whether or not they have one particular illness. If you feel overwhelmed by this process, a Palatine Social Security disability attorney can help.

There are some tough criteria for qualifying for a disability under Social Security. For example, you either have to have been unable – because of the disability – to pursue gainful employment for the last 12 months or be able to establish that you will be unable to pursue gainful employment for the next 12 months. This is only the beginning. There are other criteria that are even tougher to meet and each case is actually looked at individually. There is no, however, particular physical or mental condition that will automatically qualify you on its own.

The myth that such a condition exists likely stems from a publication that used to be used by the Social Security Administration. This publication listed many different illnesses that had criteria that could be checked to see if those illnesses ascended to the level of something that could cause a disability. Even this desk reference, however, was not so highly regarded that benefits were given or denied based on what it said about a particular illness. The Social Security Administration still made that determination based on several other factors, including medical history. If you’ve been denied benefits and have a condition that somebody else receives benefits for, there are other factors that likely qualified them to receive Social Security benefits.

What do I do if I am denied SS benefits?2022-09-09T15:19:33-05:00

It’s very common for people to be denied Social Security benefits. In some cases, these individuals set themselves up for a lot of frustration by simply reapplying for the same benefits over and over again and never getting anywhere with it. It’s much more likely that your benefits will get approved if you follow the process built into the Social Security disability application structure. In fact, more people get approved than get disapproved if they follow the process all the way to the third step.

After you get turned down the first time – and it’s not a bad idea to anticipate getting turned down the first time – you file a request for reconsideration. This is a fairly quick process, at least compared to the amount of time involved in the initial application. The request for reconsideration involves another examiner taking a look at your Social Security application and determining whether or not they think it should be approved. They will use all of the evidence already gathered by the first examiner and, therefore, the process is a bit faster. If you’re turned down at this phase, you move onto the next phase, which has some significant advantages over the anonymous applications.

An administrative law judge will hear your claim if you make an appeal. Having a Social Security disability attorney there to help can be of great benefit. This gives you a chance to present your evidence in person. Well over half of the people that actually go through this entire process get their disability claims approved. Most of the time, however, people simply keep applying and applying over and over again and fail to make any progress at all. Following the process makes it much more likely that you’ll get a face-to-face meeting with the person responsible for deciding your claim and that you will, in the end, receive the benefits for which you are applying because of your disability.

Your Options After Being Denied SSDI

Watch our short video to learn more.


Hire a social security disability attorney

You can hire a social security disability attorney at any stage of the application process. Disability attorneys focus solely on helping their clients get SSD benefits and have a thorough understanding of the SSA regulations, the information that is needed to support your disability claim, and the best way to present it. This not only greatly improves the chances that your disability claim is approved, but also makes the process less stressful. Consider the Good Law Group for your representation – call (847) 577-4476.


Is it Harder to Get Disability for a Mental Condition?2022-06-06T13:52:18-05:00

One of the functions of SSI is to provide people with mental disabilities with a secure source of income. Some of the people who have mental conditions that may, indeed qualify, as disabilities don’t end up applying for the Social Security benefits that they could receive. There is something of a perception that proving a mental illness claim is more difficult than proving a physical disability. This is not actually true. You have to understand how the Social Security Administration approves or disapproves cases to understand why it doesn’t matter whether you are applying for a mental or physical disability claim.

If you have a mental disability, the Social Security Administration does not regard your condition any differently than they would a physical disability. What they are interested in is the severity of your condition. The Social Security Administration does not make judgments about awarding benefits based upon what type of an illness somebody suffers with or what type of injury they have. They determine whether or not they work benefits based on whether or not the sufferer is able to pursue gainful employment or not. If the sufferer simply cannot be employed, then they may be regarded as disabled.

A mental health issue really only ascends to the level of a disability under certain conditions, and it’s important to keep this in mind. A mental health issue cannot simply make some types of employment impossible for someone. In order for it to qualify as a genuine disability, the sufferer has to be unable to get employment at all. Again, the question is one of severity. Mental impairments that are not as severe and that make it difficult, but not impossible, to make a gainful living may not be approved by the Social Security Administration as causes to award disability benefits. A Mt. Prospect lawyer can help you if you feel your condition wasn’t taken as seriously as it merits.

In a claim based on a mental health impairment, the best source of evidence is inpatient psychiatric records and outpatient psychiatric records from a licensed social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. To learn more, watch this short video.

What are the Basics of Social Security Disability Benefits?2017-10-27T10:50:16-05:00

Social Security benefits have some unique characteristics to them that make them unlike most other types of benefits paid out by the government. For example, your Social Security disability benefits are partially dependent upon both your vocational history and your medical history. When you’re proving that you’re eligible for Social Security benefits because of a disability, you need to establish that you not only have a condition that is recognized by your doctors as making it impossible for you to work for at least 12 months, but that you also have a work history that reaffirms this fact.

As an example, if you were a long-haul truck driver and got a devastating back injury that made it impossible for you to sit for any length of time, you might find yourself in the position where you have to apply for Social Security disability benefits to get by. Your application would be processed by DDS, Disability Determination Services. This department would look at your medical records and your vocational records and, to approve you for benefits, they would need to both agree that you could not likely continue in your work or pursue other work for at least the next 12 months and that your work history establishes that your injury is, indeed, one that disqualifies you from your established field. A trucker, for instance, could not work if they had a bad back injury and the DDS may well reach this termination.

Make certain that you have a thorough work history before you apply for any Social Security disability benefits. It speeds the process and, if you are denied a claim for some reason, it provides you with a major piece of the evidence you’ll need to try to get the money from the Social Security administration with the assistance of a Dupage County attorney, which sometimes end up being the case.

What Does Disabled Really Mean to Social Security?2017-10-27T10:51:14-05:00

The Social Security Administration uses many different criteria to determine whether or not a person is actually disabled. When they make this determination, however, they are also using a particular definition of the word disabled. If you are wondering about whether or not you should apply for Social Security benefits, you’ll want to understand a little bit about how they make the determination as to whether or not you are actually disabled.

In order to have a disability, you must have some sort of a limitation. This limitation has to be established by a credible source. For example, if you had a bad back injury that prevented you from working, your doctor would have to establish that there were limitations on your movement and mobility because of that back injury. If your former employment was pouring concrete, the doctor may, for example, have to establish that you are limited to working with an amount of weight that makes it impossible for you to return to your former employment. This would be establishing that there is a limitation on you that can be clearly defined and understood and that has a meaningful impact on your ability to keep productive employment.

Remember that, in order to give you the assistance you need, the Social Security Administration needs to know that you really do have a specific limitation. The paperwork to fill out and the records that they request are designed to help them do this. If you have been denied a claim and you do suffer a condition that places a limitation on you that makes it impossible for you to work, you can appeal the claim and have a Chicago attorney help you at a hearing so that they can meet you in person and determine whether or not your disability claim should be honored and you should receive benefits.

What Does Social Security Want to Know About Me?2022-04-11T14:07:24-05:00

In order to approve your disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will take a look at three primary pieces of information about you. These will all be considered in tandem, along with other information, to determine whether or not you receive Social Security disability benefits. Remember that you can appeal this process if you are denied but, from the start, making sure you have the right paperwork and right information submitted vastly increases the chances that your claim will be approved sooner.

As soon as you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will take a look at your medical records. Medical records will be used to determine whether or not you have a viable medical condition and how severe the condition is. What they will be looking for is proof that your medical condition prevents you from working in the way you are able before you suffer the condition and that it also prevents you from seeking another form of employment that could support you. A disability attorney can help you with this, if the need arises.

The administration will also take a look at your work history. The idea here is to take a look at your limitations and your work history to see if your disability really impacts your ability to do the type of work in which you were employed before.

If your doctor makes a statement about your disability, it will be considered. Make certain, however, that the doctor’s statement actually specifies how much limitation there is on you because of the medical condition with which you suffer. The information has to be specific. For example, “problems lifting” is not a specific limitation but the inability to lift more than 50 pounds is specific.

Your information will all be considered together to determine whether or not you’re eligible for Social Security benefits of any kind.

Watch our video to learn how much documentation is needed to win your SSD and SSI case.


What is Substantial Gainful Activity?2022-05-10T15:32:52-05:00

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is one of the main criteria by which the Social Security Administration determines whether or not you’re actually disabled. SGA is actually tied to a specific dollar amount. Currently, that dollar amount is $1,000 per month. If you cannot engage in activity that can earn you at least $1,000 per month, then your application for disability might be approved.

One of the characteristics of this measure of eligibility for disability benefits is the fact that earning over the SGA amount automatically disqualifies you from being able to receive benefits. Earning less than the SGA amount, however, does not automatically qualify you to receive benefits. It is one factor among many that is used to determine whether or not the Social Security Administration will pay benefits to you. The figure is adjusted for inflation.

Because Social Security benefits are designed to assist individuals who are completely incapable of making their own way, the administration is concerned with the severity of your condition above all other things. If your condition is so severe that you cannot meet the SGA requirement, this is a mark in your favor as far as receiving benefits is concerned.

Remember that there are other criteria involved, as well. For example, in order to receive benefits you also have to have a condition that can be documented by a doctor, that is accepted as being a real condition and that can be demonstrated to restrict your abilities in specific ways. The ways in which it restricts you must directly impact your ability to obtain gainful employment. Gainful employment is influenced, as far as benefits are concerned, by your work history. If you simply cannot get work and cannot train to get work other than in the field in which you were working before you came disabled, your application has a better chance of being approved. If you feel that your claim is not being treated as a legitimate disability by Social Security, contact a Dupage County Social Security Lawyer.

More info:

SSD Benefits and Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

What You Should Know About Substantial Gainful Activity and Applying for SSD Benefits


Why do Attorneys Matter in Social Security Appeals?2017-10-27T10:54:07-05:00

If you’re thinking that the reason most people get turned down for Social Security disability benefits to which they are likely entitled is simply injustice, think again. Many of the people who get turned down get turned down because they fail to turn in all of the paperwork that they needed. The Social Security disability process is one that hinges upon evidence. You will simply not be approved if you do not present the proper evidence when you apply for disabilities. Part of the role of an attorney is to understand this bureaucracy and to help you navigate it successfully. This is probably harder than you think or, if you’ve already been turned down for benefits, harder than you thought.

If you’re turned down in your initial application, you have the option of going to a disability hearing. This is the second part of the appeal process. People who have an attorney have an advantage when going to this hearing. The advantages not that their attorney can make an impassioned argument for them – though they probably could, if needed – but that the attorney will understand what paperwork is needed and will make certain that it is all prepared and filled out properly before the hearing. An attorney will understand what the Social Security Administration needs to hear from you and will make certain that, not only does your paperwork accurately detail your situation, but that they also have someone there who can answer any of their questions right away.

This is a vital part of winning any Social Security appeals. If you don’t have an Chicago Social Security attorneywith you, chances are that you’re not going to have fixed whatever problem it was with your claim that got you denied initially. Having an attorney review your application and present your case can make it much more likely that you’ll win your claim.

Will Disability Examiners Contact My Employer?2017-10-27T10:54:50-05:00

One of the most important pieces of information that disability examiners need to know is how your disability impacts your ability to work relative to your work history. Your work history, in fact, is absolutely vital for them to determine whether or not you’re disabled. Your disability could be very severe but, if it doesn’t affect your ability to do your job, you’re not likely to be approved for benefits. When people have problems with these issues, a Mt. Prospect attorney is oftentimes the best way to get the issue resolved.

The paperwork that you submit, specifically the activity questionnaires, will help the disability examiner determine whether or not you should receive benefits based upon your work history. In some cases, however, the disability examiners may contact your former employers. The only reason they would likely do this is because they needed clarification as to what you were required to do in your former employment and what specific demand were placed upon you that might be made impossible to meet by your disability.

They may also need to determine how capable you were before you became disabled so that they can get a comparison to your level of ability at present. This goes into a formula called residual functional capacity, which is one way that disability examiners make the determination as to whether or not you should receive benefits.

There very well may be some contact with your former employers by disability examiners. If they do make such contact, however, is likely only to get additional information that they need to weigh the merits of your claim. There is a great deal riding on how your former employment relates to your disability claim. Don’t let disability examiners making contact with former employers distress you. They’re only trying to determine whether or not the work you formerly had would be impossible for you given the disability that led you to apply for benefits from the Social Security administration.

Are Certain Medical Conditions Always Approved by the SSA?2017-10-27T10:55:50-05:00

There are some conditions that are almost guaranteed to result in approvals for Social Security benefits. The key term there is “almost”, however. There are no sure things where getting approved for benefits is concerned, so be aware that you may have to go through an appeals process or may even get denied for conditions that you believed were automatic arrivals.

The Social Security Administration uses the Impairment Listing Manual as part of their means of approving or denying benefits. Some of the conditions in this manual, if they are at the appropriate level, mean that there is a very good chance that you’ll get approved.

It’s important, however, to make sure that you continue getting documentation of your condition through treatment by your physician. Good evidence increases your chances of getting your claim approved. If you have to go through the appeals process, having legal representation can be of great assistance.

Can I Take Social Security Payments in Child Support?2017-10-27T10:56:49-05:00

There are two types of benefits to consider in answering this question. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is designed to provide a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves. SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is a part of what you get for paying taxes. The latter is earned, the former is a welfare system.

SSDI benefits can be garnished to pay for child support, as they do constitute money you earned. SSI benefits cannot. These are designed to help those who do not have a way of supporting themselves. These benefits fall in a similar category to food stamps and other government programs.

Can I Work and Get Supplemental Security Income?2017-10-27T10:57:48-05:00

You can work and receive social security benefits. There is a threshold based on SGA, which stands for Substantial Gainful Activity. This threshold is currently set at $900 each month, gross. This is not the pay you bring home; this is the total pay you make in a month, so be sure you keep an eye on it if you’re receiving benefits.

Does Social Security Automatically Decline Applicants a Set Amount of Times?2017-10-27T10:58:52-05:00

The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not decline people a certain amount of times when they apply for benefits. There is no policy or procedural reason for this.

Most often, people keep applying repeatedly when they’re turned down for benefits. These applications will be turned down each time. If you’ve been denied benefits, the proper procedure is to file an appeal, not to reapply for the same case.

Having legal representation can increase your chances of winning your appeal. Contrary to popular belief, however, there is no set amount of applications or appeals after which the SSA takes applications more seriously or after which they’re more likely to approve benefits. If you get turned down, you need to file an appeal.

Does the Social Security Administration Deny Benefits to Save Government Money?2017-10-27T11:00:03-05:00

No. The Social Security Administration is not a budgetary committee. The Social Security Administration denies benefits based on whether they believe that the applicant has a legitimate and pressing need to receive those benefits. If they don’t believe as much, the benefits are denied.

More often than not, you’re going to have to appeal your claim. More than half are denied in the initial stage and almost all are denied on reconsideration. This does not, however, have to do with the Social Security Administration factoring in government debt into their decisions.

Should I File a New Application to Appeal My Social Security Disability Denial?2017-10-27T11:01:34-05:00

You should not. There is an appeals process established by the Social Security Administration that you should use to appeal denied claims. Where appeals are concerned, however, you only have a certain amount of time to file them. If you wait over 60 days to file an appeal then you do need to file a new application.

Expect to be denied initially and when it’s reconsidered. You may have to go to hearing to get it approved. The appeals process, however, is there to give you a chance to argue your case. If you wait the 60 days and apply again, your claim will most likely be denied for the reasons that got it denied in the first place. If you keep filing repeatedly within the 60 days, you’re ruining your chances of advancing in the appeals process.

Remember: claims that are denied in the initial level are usually denied in reconsideration, as well. Expect that you’ll have to go before a judge if you’re initial claim is denied.

What is the Purpose of a Social Security Medical Exam?2021-12-20T14:28:04-06:00

The Social Security Administration (SSA) may choose to have you examined by a doctor as part of your application process. This is likely if you haven’t been to a doctor in the last month to two months.

These exams are called Consultative Exams and are used to assess your physical condition. They are very similar to a basic checkup and are not designed to provide you with any medical treatment.

There are also mental consultative exams. These are usually given to get an accurate assessment of the level of mental impairment an individual suffers or, in some cases, to get verification of a particular mental condition.

Will A Doctor’s Letter Get My Social Security Claim Approved?2022-03-29T10:03:06-05:00

A letter from a doctor that backs up your claim for disability most certainly can help your case. That being said, there are a couple of caveats that you need to keep in mind before you start counting too much on a doctor’s recommendations.

First, the doctor’s letter will have the greatest impact during the appeals process, specifically when you’re going before a judge. The initial disability examiners that look at your claim are bureaucrats. The system within which they work tends to make it much easier for them to deny a claim, so they will tend to go that way.

A judge takes a more objective look at evidence. Your doctor will have, obviously, more medical expertise than the judge and the judge knows that. They will tend to take doctor’s letter very seriously. Make sure you have the right kind of doctor’s letter, however. This means that the letter should be objective and not emotional and that it should give the judge detailed information that they can use to assess your eligibility.

The doctor should make an effort to give a useful assessment of how your disability will affect your ability to work and what kind of real limitations it means.

To hear more about how doctors can help your social security case, watch this short video.


Will Alcohol or Drug Use Ruin My Chances at Getting Disability Benefits?2021-11-29T17:33:14-06:00

The most important element in answering this question is determining whether current drug or alcohol abuse is a proximate cause of your disability. If it is, then your claim will likely be denied. The reason being that, if you stopped abusing drugs and alcohol, you wouldn’t have a disability. Beyond this, it gets more complicated.

If you have a disabling condition and it is the result of past drug or alcohol abuse, that won’t affect whether or not you get your claim. For example, if you have emphysema from a long-term drug smoking habit but are and have been clean for some time, this shouldn’t affect your eligibility and the emphysema will be the determining factor in whether or not you get your benefits.

The Social Security Administration will look at your medical records, however, and these can be problematic. Your doctor will have noted whether they suspected that you were abusing drugs. If they have noted as much, it will appear in your records and the SSA may take this as a reason to turn down your claim. Make sure you review your medical records before you apply.

In some cases, the SSA may not believe that you have overcome your addiction. They may have a representative payee arrangement set up for you if this is the case. Under these arrangements, the representative payee gets your benefits and is in charge of giving you your money on an as needed basis, which includes them paying all of your regular debts.

To hear more about this topic, watch our short video.

Will I Receive a SSDI Decision Within 120 Days?2017-10-27T11:04:35-05:00

There’s no guarantee when you’ll receive a decision on whether or not you’re going to get Social Security benefits. The process can sometimes take well over a year.

If you do get denied—and most people will during the initial phase—you can appeal. Most cases get turned down in reconsideration, a well. Going before a judge is oftentimes the best option for applicants. Having an attorney to help you during this phase can be enormously beneficial.

Will Social Security Deny Every Claim on the First Attempt?2022-10-07T15:10:23-05:00

No. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has no policy that dictates that they have to turn down claims on the first attempt.

On a nationwide basis, around 70 percent of the new claims that the SSA receives are, in fact, turned down. This is not a matter of policy, however. The SSA will keep turning down a claim if you keep refilling it, however. You have to appeal a claim when it’s denied. Filing another application for the same claim will result in it being turned down.

There’s no way to guarantee that you’ll win any claim, but legal assistance can greatly increase your chances of winning on appeal. You’ll also need to find out the RFC and medical-vocational allowance you need to qualify for disability. Make sure you doctor fills out your RFC form so that the administration knows for sure what limitations you face.

Watch our short video to learn more:


Will Social Security Pay My Back Benefits?2022-03-10T17:19:23-06:00

Applying for, and receiving, Social Security benefits can take a very long time. For that reason, the Social Security Administration will cover your benefits from the time you applied until the time you are approved retroactively. They will also sometimes cover your benefits for up to a year before you applied, depending upon your exact situation.

Most of the time, you will receive some backpay. Social Security is a complex system and, because of this, the backpay element does have to be included within the system itself. To hear more, watch this short video.


To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our firm’s caring and experienced SSD lawyers, contact our office at (800)419-7606.


Will the Social Security Administration Automatically Approve Me if I Have Been Approved for VA Benefits?2022-01-19T17:24:08-06:00

No. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has different policies regarding the approval of disability benefits that are much different from the Veteran’s Administration policies.

The SSA requires that you be 100% disabled to receive benefits. The Veteran’s Administration has a percentage system. The VA, for instance, may pay you for a 50% disability while the SSA may not.

You’ll have to apply for benefits from each agency separately. There are cases where you may end up with two applications in at once, one to each agency. The approval of one agency, however, will not guarantee the approval of the other.

Differences Between VA and SSD Benefits – watch our video

To schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced and caring Illinois Social Security Disability Lawyer, contact our office today. There are no out of pocket cost and no fees unless we are successful in helping you obtain benefits.