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At Jackson Law Firm, PLLC, we have helped thousands of clients navigate the complex process of applying for SSDI benefits. Most of our clients come to us with a long list of questions and concerns, worried about their chances for a favorable outcome.
If you are considering applying for SSDI benefits, we want you to have the answers you need so you can make the necessary informed decisions. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions our experienced Chattanooga Social Security Disability attorney has encountered.
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If you would prefer to ask your questions directly, please call us today.
Q: WHAT IS SSDI?
Q: HOW IS SSDI ELIGIBILITY DETERMINED?
Q: WHEN SHOULD I APPLY FOR SSDI?
Q: CAN I WORK PART TIME AND STILL RECEIVE BENEFITS?
Q: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A DECISION?
Q: I HAVE A SEVERE ILLNESS, CAN MY CLAIM PROCESS BE ACCELERATED?
Q: I AM COLLECTING EARLY RETIREMENT, CAN I STILL COLLECT SSDI?
Q: ARE MY FAMILY MEMBERS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE SSDI BENEFITS?
Q: DO I NEED TO BE PERMANENTLY DISABLED TO QUALIFY?
Q: I HAVE BEEN DENIED. SHOULD I APPEAL?
Q: SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO HELP WITH MY SSDI CLAIM?
A: WHAT IS SSDI?
The Social Security Disability Insurance program is one of the largest federal programs providing financial assistance to individuals who are disabled. SSDI pays benefits to individuals and certain family members if they have worked for the required amount of years, paid into Social Security, and are deemed disabled and unable to work.
A: HOW IS SSDI ELIGIBILITY DETERMINED?
Simply put, a disability is a medical or mental impairment that prevents an individual from working in gainful employment for more than a year or have a condition that is expected to result in death. You must have a doctor state that you are medically unable to work and provide documentation to prove it. In Tennessee, the Tennessee Disability Determination Services (DDS) is the agency that initially determines if applicants are eligible.
Determining SSDI eligibility is a very confusing and complex process. If you are unsure whether or not you may qualify for benefits, an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can help you determine your likelihood of receiving benefits.
A: WHEN SHOULD I APPLY FOR SSDI?
Right away! SSDI cases can drag on for a long time, sometimes even years if you need to appeal. Most claimants are eligible to apply for benefits the day after they stop working.
A: CAN I WORK PART TIME AND STILL RECEIVE BENEFITS?
Possibly, if you were working full time and your disability now prevents you from working a 40-hour work week.
A: HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET A DECISION?
Unfortunately, it takes a while. The initial decision typically takes between three to four months, with most applicants denied the first time. In Tennessee, less than 24% of applicants are granted SSDI benefits with their initial applications. Most applications go to appeal before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Hearing dates usually take anywhere between six months to two years to get scheduled.
A: I HAVE A SEVERE ILLNESS, CAN MY CLAIM PROCESS BE ACCELERATED?
Yes, if you have a severe medical condition with a clear diagnosis. The Social Security Administration has programs that expedite certain SSDI claims. These include:
Compassionate allowances program for certain cancers and illnesses such as early onset Alzheimer's disease or ALS.
Terminal illness program for individuals who are not expected to survive their medical condition.
Presumptive disability program for individuals who have a condition automatically presumed to prevent them from working such as blindness or HIV infection.
A: I AM COLLECTING EARLY RETIREMENT, CAN I STILL COLLECT SSDI?
If you can prove your disability occurred before your retirement date, then yes.
A: ARE MY FAMILY MEMBERS ENTITLED TO RECEIVE SSDI BENEFITS?
They may be. Any children who are under 18 and/or are still in high school can receive benefits. Additionally, your spouse may receive benefits if he or she is age 62 or older or caring for a child under the age of 16.
A: DO I NEED TO BE PERMANENTLY DISABLED TO QUALIFY?
No, but you do have to be disabled for more than a year. Once you are no longer disabled or you return to work, your benefits will be discontinued.
A: I HAVE BEEN DENIED. SHOULD I APPEAL?
Yes! And soon! If an appeal is not filed in a timely manner, you will be required to start the process all over again. While the DDS in Tennessee typically denies most claims initially, more than 60% of the claims review by an ALJ are approved.
A: SHOULD I HIRE AN ATTORNEY TO HELP WITH MY SSDI CLAIM?
Absolutely yes! As with most processes involving the government, applying for SSDI benefits is highly complex. Even the minutest mistake or omission can cause your application to be rejected. An experienced SSDI attorney will be familiar with all current regulations, can assist you in obtaining your necessary medical records, and will understand what ALJ judges are looking for when evaluating your case.
Additionally, your odds of winning your case can increase substantially when you are represented by skilled legal counsel. Applicants who retain representation typically are awarded more back benefits than individuals who go through the process alone. Social Security Disability lawyers usually work on contingency, which means there is no fee involved unless you win your case.
We Can Help You Fight For The Benefits You Deserve!
If you are considering applying for SSDI benefits, don't do so without legal help! Our Chattanooga Social Security Disability attorney can provide the diligent attention to detail and assertive representation you need for a favorable outcome. As your advocate, we will be by your side for each and every step of the process.
Take the first step in garnering the maximum SSDI benefits to which you are entitled.