Purpose of Social Security Disability

The purpose of the Social Security Disability Law is to allow for an “early retirement” when an individual is severely disabled and is unable to engage in substantial gainful employment – different from workers compensation. If approved for benefits, the individual will receive a monthly cash benefit equal to what he would have received in Social Security payments had he worked until age 65. In addition, once an individual qualifies for this “early retirement” and related Social Security Disability payments, he will also be entitled to Medicare protection, after a brief waiting period, notwithstanding that he is less than 65 years of age at the time.

Who is Eligible

As a general rule, if an individual has worked and paid FICA taxes to the Federal Government for a least 5 out of the prior 10 years before making application for Social Security Disability benefits and has been unable to perform substantial gainful employment for at least 1 year or more or it is reasonably anticipated that the individual will be unable to perform substantial gainful employment for at least a year then he will have satisfied the Social Security Disability eligibility requirements and is thereby entitled to Social Security Disability payments.

How the System Works

While filling out a Social Security Disability application is quick and easy, having the patience and “follow through” to pursue a final decision by the Social Security Administration is at times difficult. You can file a Social Security Disability application for benefits at any Social Security Administration office by appearing in person, calling in advance for a phone interview or completing the necessary application online. It is free to apply. The initial application process seeks more or less very general information. You do not need an attorney with you or to assist you in the application process.

After completing the Social Security Disability application you will be asked to forward medical records in support of your claimed disability for review. In our experience, the overwhelming majority of individuals subsequently receive a denial from the Social Security Administration. The reasons for the initial denial vary. While cynical, its hard to ignore the advantage the Administration enjoys in that a significant percentage of applicants simply abandon their claim at this stage. Failure to continue forward in the process is a drastic mistake.

An individual who receives an initial denial should immediately call an attorney who practices Social Security Disability Law so an appeal of the denial and a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge can be filed.

Time is of the essence. Pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations an individual only has 60 days from the receipt of the initial denial to file his appeal. It is during this period of time, from the filing of the appeal to the actual hearing, that an attorney builds the foundation to win the claim by gathering all relevant medical records, completing a legal memorandum thereby giving the Judge the legal reasons why the client is entitled to Social Security Disability payments and then preparing the client to appear and testify at the hearing. The hearing itself will be held in the comfortable confines of a professional office type setting, as opposed to a court room, which can prove intimidating to some individuals. While the time frames vary greatly on a case by case basis, from the filing of a claim to an actual hearing, it is estimated that an initial denial usually arrives 5 to 8 months from the filing of the application and a hearing will be scheduled within a year from the initial denial.

Our Policy – Social Security Disabilities Benefits

We offer a free consultation to all individuals who have applied for Social Security Disability benefits or are thinking about filing a claim. We prefer to conduct our consultations in our office at a time and date convenient to the prospective client. We will give an honest assessment of the individuals chance for success before the Social Security Administration, and aim to answer any questions they may have.

There are occasions where individuals come to our office and it appears as though they are only going to be out of work for a temporary period of time – such as in the case of surgery where a return to work is anticipated after a brief recovery period. In such instances, while we always hope for the best – that the individual makes a proper recovery and returns to work within 1 year – we almost always error on the side of caution thereby recommending the individual file the application for Social Security Disability benefits so in the event they have a protracted recovery period and are out of work for that 1 year minimum, they can potentially qualify for what we refer to as “closed period of Social Security Disability benefits.”

In that regard, some individuals believe that they can only apply Social Security Disability benefits if they never intend on returning to work again. This is a misguided belief for several reasons. First, an individual can in some circumstances continue to work and qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Second, when someone is out of work for 12 months or more, and then makes a full recovery from their disability allowing for there return to work, the Social Security Law allows for payment of benefits during the period of disability. The receipt of the Social Security payments during this temporary period of disability will certainly serve to ease the financial burden a family suffers while one of the income earners out of work.

Areas We Serve

If you live in New York State, we hope that you’ll give us a call to be your injury attorneys. With centrally located offices in Latham, NY, the attorneys here at Zappone & Fiore are proud to serve the greater Albany Capital District and Saratoga regions. Our reach includes cities as north as Fort Ann, Fort Edward, Lake George, Queensbury, Fort Edward, Glens Falls and Mechanicville, and to points south and west of the city of Albany, including Green Island, Troy, Schenectady, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. We hope that if you live in Upstate NY, we hope that you’ll let us help you with your personal injury matters.