Social Security Disability FAQs

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a difficult, emotionally draining, and complex process. If you believe you may be eligible for disability benefits, contact one of our Social Security disability lawyers who can review your case and determine whether you are likely to qualify for benefits. Read on for more details.

You must not be gainfully employed. Additionally, you must have a severe impairment that already has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or longer (or is expected to end in death). The impairment must limit your ability to work. The Social Security Administration has a Listing of Impairments. If your impairment meets a listed impairment or is similar to a listed impairment, you could qualify. Even if your impairment does not meet a listed impairment, you may still qualify if it prevents full time work.

There is not a one-answer-fits-all answer to this question. In some situations, the answer is right away. When it is clear that you will not be able to work again, you have appropriate medical treatment, the reasons for your symptoms are documented, and your doctors think that you should file, then there is no reason to wait. Sometimes delaying a bit to get things all in line so that you can present your best case to Social Security may increase your chance of early success. Attorneys at Roose & Ressler can help you decide the answer to this question.

This is a difficult question, and in the end only you can answer it. We understand that unemployment compensation may be the only way for you to have income that keeps you in your home and food on the table. We also understand that it often is not clear whether Social Security will find that you meet its standard of disability. There is no legal reason that you cannot apply for both programs and even receive benefits under both programs for the same period of time. (This could change. There has been political discussion that could prevent the possibility of a person receiving both types of benefits at the same time.)

But as you consider whether to apply for unemployment compensation, you should consider how it may affect your Social Security disability claim.

There is at least a seeming conflict present if you pursue both disability and unemployment for the same period of time. You must warrant that you are “ready, willing, and able to work” to be entitled for unemployment. You allege that you are “disabled” or unable to work when you apply for disability. In reality, there is not always a conflict because of how Social Security determines disability. Sometimes a person is disabled by Social Security’s standard even if there are some kinds of work that the person could perform.

Some Social Security decision-makers think that a person who pursues benefits from both programs is not credible. The thinking of some seems to be, “How can I trust what a person says about his or her symptoms and limitations who appears to have been dishonest (either to Social Security or to Unemployment Compensation) for the purpose of obtaining benefits?”

Some judges who decide cases at the hearing level appear to be so biased against a person who has received unemployment compensation that they will not find the person disabled during a period of time that they were receiving unemployment.

Receiving unemployment compensation can hurt a disability claim. But it is hard to predict how much effect it may have in any particular case. Attorneys at Roose & Ressler can help evaluate the risk in your particular circumstances.

Social Security disability lawyers should analyze your case thoroughly to determine what is necessary for you to receive benefits. They should assess the best methods on how to prove the crucial facts of your case and gather the necessary evidence. Disability lawyers may request and obtain reports from your treating physician. Additionally, they may recommend that you visit specialists to receive a more detailed report regarding your particular impairments. In some cases, they may ask a vocational expert to provide an expert evaluation. If a case has been closed, a Social Security disability lawyer may ask that the case be reopened. A lawyer should help you prepare to testify (answer questions at a hearing). If there are adverse witnesses, a lawyer may cross-examine them. Your disability lawyer may also prepare a summary of the evidence and argument about your case, either in writing before or after the hearing, or during the hearing.

A disability hearing is a private proceeding that is commonly held in a small conference room. During a hearing, you will be asked about your work experience, education, training, limitations, symptoms, and daily activities. The ALJ may ask medical and vocational experts to participate as witnesses at your hearing.

There have historically been long wait times from the date that a hearing is requested to the date of the hearing. The length of the wait varies by hearing location, and at any location the wait time can lengthen and shorten. But generally, you can expect to wait from 12 to 20 months for a hearing, after you have requested it.

You must start the process over from the beginning if you do not file your appeal within 65 days from the date of your denial letter, unless you have “good cause” for filing it late (a very compelling reason you weren’t able to file on time).