You Have Questions. We Have Answers.
At Burgess & Christensen we have over 30 years of experience in disability law, which gives us the ability to answer your questions about Social Security disability benefits.
How long do I have to wait after becoming disabled before I can file for Social Security Disability benefits?
A common misunderstanding is that you have to be disabled a year before you file for benefits. This is not true. You can file for Social Security disability benefits as soon as you become disabled and are unable to work if you have an illness or injury that is expected to keep you out of work for at least a year, or that is expected to result in death. You should not delay in filing your claim right away.
How long should I wait before I hire an attorney?
You should hire a lawyer as soon as possible to make sure your case is properly prepared and presented from the very beginning and to improve your chances of winning sooner. Attorney fees are 25% of past due benefits, which is the same whether you secure legal representation at the very beginning of the claim or later in the process.
Social Security wants me to go to see another doctor. Do I have to go?
Yes. While reviewing your application for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has the right to request that you be examined – at the government’s expense – by a doctor of their choice. You should cooperate with their doctor and be completely honest during the examination. The doctor will not determine whether you are disabled, but will provide a report to SSA on the examination and testing.
Can I get a partial disability?
No. Social Security does not provide any type of benefits unless you meet their strict definition of disabled: a severe physical or mental condition that prevents you from working for at least 12 months or that will result in death. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
My doctors say that I’m disabled. The VA says I’m disabled. So why am I having a hard time getting Social Security benefits?
Although Social Security does take into consideration the findings of physicians and other agencies when evaluating your claim, their decisions are not binding on the SSA. You must go through the Social Security Administration’s application and evaluation process to find out if you qualify.
Do I have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security Disability benefits?
No. You have to be disabled and expected to be out of work for at least a year. Your benefits will continue until you recover and are able to return to work. You may even qualify to continue receiving benefits during a trial work period.