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    Social Security Disability Questions

    Should I apply for disability?

    If your answers match the ones below, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is likely to award you benefits.

    • Are you gainfully employed? No
    • Do you have a severe impairment? Yes
    • Will your impairment last 12 months or result in death? Yes
    • Does your disability meet one of SSA’s listed impairments? If yes, you qualify. If no …
    • Are you able to work? No

    How long do disability appeals take?

    Social Security disability appeals timeline

    When should I apply for disability benefits?

    Unless you have an obvious long-term disability, the best time to apply for Social Security disability benefits is 6-9 months after you stop working.

    What does a disability lawyer do?

    The big-picture answer is: analyze what needs to be proven to win benefits, figure out how to prove it, and gather the necessary evidence. Some of the specific tasks are:

    • Obtain reports from treating doctors that are consistent with Social Security regulations
    • Refer claimants to specialists for additional reports that answer questions raised by Social Security regulations
    • Obtain a vocational expert’s evaluation of the claimant’s ability to work
    • Ask that a prior application for benefits be reopened
    • Seek a waiver of a time limit
    • Request subpoenas to insure the presence of crucial witnesses or documents
    • Advise the claimant on how best to prepare for and testify at the hearing
    • Object to improper evidence or procedures at the hearing
    • Cross-examine adverse witnesses
    • Present a closing statement
    • Submit a written summary of the evidence and argument
    • If the claimant wins, make sure the SSA correctly calculates benefits
    • If the claimant loses, request review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council

    How long will I wait for a disability hearing?

    It can take up to two years from request until a hearing is held and a decision issued, but the time varies from state to state.

    What are hearings like?

    They are private, held in a small conference room, and last an hour or so. You will be asked about your education, training, work experience, symptoms, limitations, and daily activities.

    What if I don’t file my disability appeal on time?

    If you have not filed your appeal within 65 days of the date on your denial letter, you have to start over with a new claim. That new claim may result in the loss of back benefits.

    What is the biggest mistake made by disability applicants?

    Because the majority of appeals are granted at a hearing, failing to appeal a denial to the hearing level is the number one error … and unfortunately very common.

    More detailed information on these and other common claimant questions is available in the library below.