There are many questions that clients have when first approaching their case. This field of law can be complicated, but these answers to common questions can assist you.
What does it mean to be disabled?
You are "disabled" for Social Security and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) purposes if, due to a severe mental or physical condition, you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity for a period of 12 months or more. If your condition is expected to result in death within 12 months, the 12-month duration requirement does not apply to you.
What is "substantial gainful activity" (SGA)?
This basically means "work." However, it means a bit more than that. First, it must be "gainful." That means that you earn up to $1,000 per month gross from work. The work also must have meaningful physical and/or mental demands. You must be able to do more than show up and collect a paycheck. Your job must be ordinary, competitive employment.
Is Social Security Disability welfare?
No. Throughout your working life, you have had money taken out of your paycheck above and beyond your income taxes. It appears as "FICA" on your pay stubs. Among other things, that money pays your insurance premiums for disability insurance.
What is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides an income to disabled people who have not worked enough years to be covered by Social Security Disability Insurance. If you have not worked at all, if you have worked very little, or if your last job was a long time ago, you might be eligible for SSI. The definition of disability is the same for both forms of insurance. However, SSI has the additional requirement of financial need.
I've got a good case. Why was I turned down?
The initial determination of your claim (as well as your first appeal) is generally made by someone who has not met you or heard how your condition affects you. They have to rely on medical records and other documentary evidence, and those often don't tell the whole story.
When should I speak with a lawyer about my case?
We are willing to speak with you on the phone before you even file an application for benefits to answer any questions you might have.
Will you charge me if I call you?
No. There is no charge to speak of unless we win your case and you get money. If you win your case, you are entitled to a retroactive benefit. The amount of this benefit will depend on several factors. Our fee is a percentage of the retroactive benefit, usually 25% or up to $6,000, whichever is the lesser amount. NO COST UP FRONT.
Contact our law office in Auburn, Maine, to have any other questions answered.