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What is Social Security Disability?

Definition of Social Security Disability Law

Sometimes people have medical conditions which prevent them from earning enough money to support themselves. The federal government provides these individuals with some basic income through social security disability payments. However, in order to receive these benefits, the person seeking social security disability payments must file an application.

Many initial applications for social security disability benefits are denied. Fortunately, they can be appealed four times: first, the application is reconsidered; next it goes to an administrative law hearing; then to a review by an appeals council; and last, it can be reviewed in federal court. Many applicants find they can file an initial application and have it reconsidered without help, but may hire an attorney for the administrative law hearing and later steps. An attorney can help gather documents and make convincing arguments in favor of benefits. Claimants who have an attorney with them at the hearing are more likely to be successful than those without. If you have already filed a claim and are thinking about hiring an attorney for your appeal, you may not want to delay. Appeals must be filed within a certain time frame, and you do not want to miss a deadline because you waited too long to hire a lawyer.

Terms to Know

  • Alleged Onset Date: The date you were first eligible for disability payments. If your claim is successful, you will receive back pay through this date.
  • Back pay: Benefit payments that you were entitled to between your onset date and the date your claim was successful.
  • Cessation: Stopping your benefits pay because you were able to return to work.
  • Residual Functional Capacity: The abilities you have remaining after your disability.

Practice Area Notes

Many social security disability attorneys practice only social security disability law, although some general practitioners will also work on social security disability claims. Social security disability attorneys are paid by the social security administration and only get paid if the claim is successful. However, attorneys may charge the claimant for out-of-pocket expenses, such as the cost of copying, traveling, or obtaining medical records.

Related Practice Areas

  • Estate Planning: Many social security disability claimants are never able to return to work and require special trusts to ensure that their care is paid for. However, creating certain kinds of trusts will disqualify the claimant from disability payments. Attorneys often need to understand how these two areas of law interact in order to give the claimant the best service.
  • Other Social Security Benefits: Often, claimants are eligible for more than one kind of social security benefit.
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