First, we do Social Security Disability cases throughout Kentucky and Indiana and in some cases, beyond those areas.
There are two kinds of Social Security Disability, SSDI and SSI. SSDI is Social Security Disability Income and that is based on the money paid into the system. If someone didn’t pay enough into the system, they can apply for SSI, Supplemental Security Income. The amount of SSI is based on household income and assets. Some people receive small SSDI check and additional small SSI checks, so we have our client apply for both, just in case they didn’t pay enough into the system to get a larger SSDI check.
Other than the financial requirements above, the process in applying for disability is the same. For both, it has to be determined that a person is unable to work for at least 12 months in order to qualify for disability.
The initial application stage is where most people will be denied. When last checked, the denial on initial applications was about 99%. Once a person is denied, they have 60 days to appeal that decision and go to the Reconsideration level. At that level, about 30% of the people will be approved. When the other 70% of the people are denied, they have 60 days to appeal to the Hearing level. At the hearing level about 60% of the remaining people will be approved. Now, these are estimates and every case is different.
At both the Initial and Reconsideration Levels, the Social Security Administration sends the case out to the Department of Disability Determinations for evaluations. At those two levels, the person applying most likely will be sent out for exams, medical and/or mental health exams; depending on what they are claiming is the issue. Once the person reaches the hearing level, Social Security will not send them out for examinations, unless they are requested by the client or their representative.
The way hiring a representative works is that the representative only gets paid if the person is awarded disability. The amount they are paid is set by the Federal Government, so everyone in the country is paid the same percentage. The attorney or representative is paid 25% of any back pay the client receives, up to $6,000. So, if the client receives a back check of $4000, the attorney would get $1000. If the client receives a back check of $30,000, the attorney is only allowed to be paid $6000.
The average wait time from start to finish is one to 3 months at the Initial level, one to 3 months at the Reconsideration level and one year at the Hearing level. So, it can take two years to get a hearing date from the date a person first applies for disability. Now, there are some ways to speed that up. For example, don’t wait 60 days to appeal, do it immediately, as that saves two months on the appeal, things like that.
Second, we would always suggest that you have an attorney handle your Social Security Disability claim, one that handles them on a regular basis, as there are things that may be missed by someone handling the case themselves, or by an attorney or representative that does not handle these types of cases on a regular basis.