Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SSD AND SSI?

A: Social Security Disability (SSD) is for people who have worked and paid in to social security 20 out of the last 40 quarters (approximately 5 out of the last 10 years). Social Security Income (SSI) is for those who have not paid in during the relevant quarters.

Q: HOW DOES SOCIAL SECURITY DECIDE IF I AM DISABLED?

A: Social Security is based on your inability to work because of a medical condition. You must be unable to do any sort of work. Your disability must last or be expected to last one year or result in death.

Q: CAN I APPLY FOR SHORT TERM DISABILITY BENEFITS?

A: Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial or short term disability.

Q: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECEIVE AN INITIAL DECISION?

A: The length of time is takes to receive a decision is from 3 to 6 months.

Q: IF I RECEIVE A DENIAL AND DISAGREE WITH SOCIAL SECURITY’S INITIAL DECISION, WHAT CAN I DO?

A: We can request an appeal within 60 days for Social Security to reconsider their decision.

Q: IF I RECEIVE A DENIAL ON RECONSIDERATION AND DISAGREE, WHAT CAN I DO?

A: We can request a hearing within 60 days to appear before a judge where we can present your case for disability.

Q: HOW LONG WILL IT BE BEFORE I HAVE A HEARING?

A: Generally, we estimate 16 months from the time the hearing is requested.

Q: WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG?

A: The time it takes depends upon the number of requests for hearing in the Eugene office of hearings and appeals. Hearings are set based on the date of your request for hearing.

Q: HOW DO I SURVIVE WHILE WAITING FOR MY HEARING?

A: We suggest you contact all sources available to you for help: family, friends, state agencies, churches and food banks may be able to assist you. In many cases, people have to sell their belongings to get by.

Q: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A DECISION AFTER THE HEARING?

A: We estimate 30-60 days. Sometimes it takes longer.

Q: IF AWARDED BENEFITS, HOW LONG BEFORE I RECEIVE ANY MONEY?

A: After the written decision is received, we estimate that it will be 90-120 days before you start receiving money. You may receive monthly benefits before you receive any past owing benefits.

Q: DOES HAVING AN ATTORNEY SPEED UP THE PROCESS?

A: Having an attorney does not speed up the process. Hearings are scheduled by the hearing request date.

Q: HOW MUCH SHOULD I EXPECT FOR COSTS?

A: If you are able to obtain your medical records, you may be able to save money. However, if you want us to get them, the doctors will charge us and we will send you a copy of the bill. Costs must be paid whether or not we are able to assist you in obtaining benefits. Costs normally do not exceed $250.00.

If the attorney needs a consultation with a doctor, we will contact the doctor’s office and let you know the estimated cost in advance and ask for payment.

Q: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COSTS AND FEES?

A: Attorneys fees are awarded out of your past owing benefits and are determined by the social security administration based on our fee agreement. Costs are monies spent by our firm for obtaining records, reports, consultations, etc. and are paid by the client regardless of outcome.

Q: WILL THE ATTORNEY FEE BE WITHHELD FROM MY PAST OWING BENEFITS?

A: Our attorney fee should be withheld, but there have been times when this has not happened and in that case, it will be your responsibility to pay us.

The best thing to do is contact us whenever you receive any money so we can contact social security to find out what action has been taken or needs to be taken. A notice of award should be issued to let you know your monthly benefits and past owing amount along with information on attorney fees, but it often comes after you receive money.

Q. IF I AM AWARDED BENEFITS WITHOUT HAVING A HEARING, DOES THAT CHANGE THE AMOUNT OF THE ATTORNEY FEE?

A. No, it does not. Our fee agreement states that we are a contingency practice and if we are successful in assisting you in obtaining benefits, we are paid our full statutory fee, regardless of the amount of time spent. Our firm has been very successful in overturning social security denials and we believe that in close cases, because of who we are the and quality of our work, social security occasionally awards benefits without a hearing.

Q: HOW MUCH MONEY WILL I RECEIVE EACH MONTH?

A: If you have an SSI case, it will depend on factors such as household income and assets. Social Security will then determine the amount of monthly benefits.

If you have an SSD case, your monthly benefit is based on the amount you have paid in to social security. Your monthly benefit will be determined by a benefit pay authorizer in the payment center.

Both SSI and SSD cases could be affected if you have received benefits such as unemployment, workers’ compensation, a personal injury settlement, etc..

Q: WILL I RECEIVE MY PAST OWING BENEFITS IN A LUMP SUM?

A: SSD will pay the past owing in a lump sum.

SSI is only allowed to pay past owing benefits in increments of 3 monthly payments with six months between payments. (For example 3 x $500.00 = $1500.00) if your backowing benefits are more than $1500.00, you will receive a second installment in six months and any balance remaining will be paid in the third installment.

If you have received general assistance during this time, social security will pay back the state of Oregon out of your SSI past owing monies prior to sending you any lump sums.