Social Services


Are you eligible for Social Security Disability?

You may be eligible for Social Security Disability payments and important health coverage if you cannot work because of your health.  You can receive Social Security Disability for any type of physical or mental health condition as long as it is severe enough to prevent you from working.  Arthritis, depression, anxiety, asthma, diabetes and seizures are just a few of many reasons people receive Social Security Disability.

Age is one of the most important factors considered; however, you may receive Social Security benefits at any age.  Even children may be eligible if they are disabled.  Even at age 50, you are more likely to be eligible for Social Security, because Social Security realizes that it is more difficult to find work as you get older.

Social Security administers two different benefit programs:  Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Both are the same in the sense that you must be unable to work due to your health.  The primary difference is that to receive Social Security Disability Insurance you must have a significant work history and for SSI you must be financially needy.

How do you apply?

You should apply as soon as you become disabled.  Do not wait to apply.  If you wait, you may lose money.

There are three ways you can apply:

     - by phone at 800-772-1213 (social security information),

     - over the Internet at www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability,

     - in person at your local Social Security office.

What happens after you apply?

After you apply, Social Security will work with your lawyer to obtain information from your doctors and other sources.  Do not exaggerate your conditions and be honest with your doctors.  Medical records are the most important evidence in your case.  That is why you must obtain medical treatment for all your health conditions.  See your primary doctor on a regular basis; visit a psychiatrist for mental illness (e.g. depression, anxiety, schizophrenia); and get a referral for a specialist whenever appropriate.

Frequently, Social Security will ask you to see “their” doctors. You must attend all doctor appointments scheduled.  It is also important that you tell those doctors about all of your medical problems.  Social Security may also ask you to complete questionnaires regarding your health, your pain and your daily activities.  Ask your lawyer to review these forms before returning them to Social Security.

If you complete all questionnaires and attend all appointments in a timely manner, you could receive a determination in as little as three months, or as long as one year.  Unfortunately, Social Security denies most applications at the first level.  Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst at the initial level.

Appeal if you are denied

Don’t give up.  If you are denied, you should appeal.  This is also the time to retain a lawyer if you did not hire one when you first applied.  The appeal process varies from state to state.  In Florida, you must first request reconsideration of the initial decision before you can request a hearing before a judge.

Waiting for a hearing is frequently worth the wait even though it may take longer than a year.  Approximately two-thirds of cases are won at the hearing level.  Your chances of winning may be even greater with a lawyer who understands the process.

Hearings are nothing like the court shows you watch on television.  Hearings are more informal and held in a conference room instead of a courtroom.  You sit next to your lawyer and you and your lawyer have the opportunity to speak directly with the judge who will decide your case.  Hearings usually take less than one hour and decisions are sent in the mail approximately 90 days later.  After a favorable decision you can expect to begin receiving your benefits within a few months.  If you are denied, then you and your lawyer could file an appeal to the Appeals Council.  You should also start the process over and file a new case at the same time.  That way you have two chances of winning.

Do you need a lawyer?

The application process can be long and complicated.  Failure to meet certain deadlines and complete paperwork required by Social Security can extend the wait time or even cause you to lose your case.  While you have the right to represent yourself, many people feel more comfortable with having their own lawyer who is familiar with these complexities. Mr. Silver has appeared before Administrative Law Judges on numerous occasions and is quite familiar with this process. He will represent your interests and present to the Court why your claim for disability benefits should be awarded.

If you decide to get a lawyer, it is wise to retain one who focuses his practice on Social Security cases.  The rules and regulations are complicated and change frequently.  Your lawyer should be experienced in the disability process and the standards for disability.  Mr. Silver does not charge a fee unless you win.

Please contact Mr. Silver for a free consultation about the merits of your claim.