Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What Are the Benefits of Obtaining the Advice and Assistance of a Social Security Lawyer?
  2. Who can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?
  3. Who can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?
  4. I Am Presently Receiving VA Disability Benefits from the Veterans Administration. Am I Able to Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
  5. How Will Attempting to Work Part-Time Impact my Potential Security Disability Claim?
  6. How Will Working Under the Table Affect a Potential Social Security Disability Claim?
  7. What Does it Mean to be “Disabled” Under Social Security’s Rules in order to Qualify Medically for Benefits?
  8. When are SSDI Benefits Payable Should I be Approved for Benefits?
  9. When are SSI benefits payable should I be approved for benefits?
  10. When Should You Start an Application for Disability Benefits?
  11. Will I Still Qualify for Benefits if I am Still Working?
  12. How Should One Start an Application for Benefits?
  13. I Need to Apply for Social Security Disability benefits given my back problems. What Concerns Should I Have Going Forward?
  14. I was Denied Social Security Disability Benefits at Hearing. To What Extent Can I Still Collect Benefits on a New Application?
  15. I Need to Apply for Social Security Disability benefits given my Mental Health. What Concerns Should I Have Going Forward?
  16. How Long Does it Take to Obtain a Decision?
  17. Who Makes the Decision in my Case?
  18. What Happens if I’m Denied on my Initial Social Security Disability Application?
  19. What Happens if I’m Denied at the Hearing Level?

What Are the Benefits of Obtaining the Advice and Assistance of a Social Security Lawyer?
Unless you are a Social Security lawyer with years of experience handling disability claims, it is difficult if not impossible to understand the myriad rules and regulations that might apply to your claim. Before attempting to apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), one needs to understand first which program might be appropriate for you: i.e., have worked sufficiently to qualify for the SSDI program, and will your income and assets allow you to qualify for the SSI program? Read More...

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Who can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?
For those who have worked and paid sufficient Social Security taxes to acquire sufficient quarters of coverage so as to be insured under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, a monthly check is available and payable based on how much one has paid into the system through their payroll taxes, assuming they meet the definition of “disabled” under Social Security’s rules. Benefits may also be payable to spouses, and dependent children under this program under certain circumstances. Read More...

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Who can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?
A separate program, called the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, pays federal welfare benefits to “disabled” children who reside in households deemed to fall within SSI’s welfare guideline and to those “disabled” adults who may not have paid sufficiently into the SSDI program but are deemed to meet the SSI’s welfare guidelines. Read More...

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I Am Presently Receiving VA Disability Benefits from the Veterans Administration. Am I Able to Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
We are many times contacted by disabled veterans who have become disabled from working and are in need of Social Security disability benefits. They remain unclear whether they might quality for benefits under the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Read More...

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How Will Attempting to Work Part-Time Impact my Potential Security Disability Claim?

When filing for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI), it’s important to understand how attempting to work part-time can affect one’s applications. Any ethical Social Security lawyer should inform you that it’s always in your best interest to work, and to work as much as possible. Read More...

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How Will Working Under the Table Affect a Potential Social Security Disability Claim?

There are a number of ways that working under the table can affect your potential Social Security disability and, from my experience as a Social Security lawyer practicing in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire for over twenty-eight (28) years, none of them are good. Read More...

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What Does it Mean to be “Disabled” Under Social Security’s Rules in order to Qualify Medically for Benefits?
In order to qualify medically for a Social Security disability benefits, whether it is SSI or SSDI, one needs to prove that they are suffering from a severe medical impairment that, despite prescribed treatment, has caused them to remain (or is likely to cause them to remain) totally disabled from all forms of gainful employment for which they are reasonably suited by age, education and experience for a year or longer or is likely to result in death. One may satisfy the eligibility requirements by either meeting one of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) Listings of Medical Impairments, or by showing that their medical conditions result in such severe functional impairments that they would remain incapable of other past work or any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy or which they are reasonably suited by age, education and experience. Read More...

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When are SSDI Benefits Payable Should I be Approved for Benefits?
Assuming one is found long term disabled under Social Security’s rules, SSDI benefits are payable as far back as 1 year prior to one’s application date, assuming as well that the first monthly check cannot be paid prior to meeting a standard 5 full month waiting period. Read More...

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When are SSI benefits payable should I be approved for benefits?
Assuming you are found disabled as of your application date, SSI benefits are payable beginning the month after your application month, with benefits being payable based on welfare need (that is to say, with benefits being determined each month based on your household income and assets). Read More...

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When Should You Start an Application for Disability Benefits?
Given the need to show that one will remain totally disabled from all forms of gainful employment for a year or longer, despite prescribed treatment, it is important to avoid filing for benefits too early. Assuming there are other sources of income in the household that would not allow for a potential SSI needs based benefit, which would begin the month after one applies, ordinarily one will want to wait at least 6 months or longer before applying for benefits. While the analysis for each case is different, consideration needs to be given to the fact that applying too early, indicating that one believes they will remain disabled from working for a year or longer, will be met with skepticism and a potential denial by the Social Security Administration (SSA) if were to apply at a point where the medical outcome at a year remains less than clear. Read More...

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Will I Still Qualify for Benefits if I am Still Working?
SSA will look at the nature of the work being performed and determine whether the work is 1) “substantial” under Social Security’s rules and 2) being undertaken at a gainful level. Substantial gainful activity for 2016 is defined as the ability to earn $1130.00 per month on a regular and continuing basis. Simply earning less than $1130.00, does not in and of itself mean that the Social Security Administration will determine that one remains incapable of earning gainful wages: that is to say, working simply a few more hours. Read More...

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How Should One Start an Application for Benefits?
While an application for Social Security disability benefits can be started right on line by going to secure.ssa.gov, it is advisable to seek the advice and assistance of a dedicated Social Security disability lawyer who can assist you with the forms and procedures that will be necessary so as to hopefully avoid the need to appeal the decision. Read More...

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I Need to Apply for Social Security Disability benefits given my back problems. What Concerns Should I Have Going Forward?
First and foremost, when attempting to apply for Social Security disability in ME, MA or NH, for issues involving one’s back, it is important that you are seeking (and that you have sought in the past), appropriate treatment that shows an aggressive effort to recover from these problems. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking to see (as should you) that everything is being done that can be done to get better and return to some manner of employment. Read More...

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I was denied Social Security Disability Benefits at Hearing. To What Extent Can I Still Collect Benefits on a New Application?
If you have been denied at hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and you either failed to appeal your case within 60 days (with an additional 5 days provided for receipt of the mailed decision), or you did appeal unsuccessfully, all may not be lost. Read More...

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I Need to Apply for Social Security Disability benefits given my Mental Health. What Concerns Should I Have Going Forward?
If you are suffering from severe mental health concerns that are causing you to consider an application for Social Security disability benefits, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. As a Social Security lawyer who has handled 1000’s of Social Security disability claims in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire over the course of more than 27 years I would tell you that a number of recurring issues do arise. Read More...

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How Long Does it Take to Obtain a Decision?
The length of time it takes to reach a decision depends on a number of factors: how long it takes for SSA to obtain your medical records, whether your individual circumstances require SSA to obtain additional forms from you or others (such as regarding work that has been performed for the same time period you’re claiming disability, or, for example, regarding workers’ compensation benefits that you’ve received in the interim) and whether SSA needs to send you to one of their doctors for an evaluation. Likewise, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire decisions may be picked up by the Boston Quality Review Team to determine the appropriateness of a recommended decision. Typically, a decision is rendered anywhere from 3 to 6 months following the receipt of your application, however this process can be delayed an additional 1 to 3 months if in fact it is picked up by Quality Review. Read More...

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Who Makes the Decision in my Case?
Once the application has been received, the electronic case file is transferred to the state agency responsible for making the decision as to whether you are “disabled” under Social Security’s rules: Disability Determination Services (DDS). In Maine, the DDS office is located in Augusta, ME, in New Hampshire, there is a DDS office in Concord, NH, and in Massachusetts, there are offices located in Boston and Worcester. Read More...

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What Happens if I’m Denied on my Initial Social Security Disability Application?
Should you receive an initial denial on your Social Security disability claim, understand that you are not alone. Two-thirds (2/3) of all initial claims are denied for some reason or another and this does not necessarily mean that your claim is not valid. The first thing you should consider is whether you have received the advice and assistance of a Social Security lawyer who is skilled in this area of the law and understand there are only sixty-five (65) days from the date of the denial within which to appeal. Read More...

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What Happens if I’m Denied at the Hearing Level?
Assuming you’ve been denied at your hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), it is not always clear what the best avenue to pursue is at that point. A number of options may be available to you, depending on the facts and circumstances of your particular claim, and discussing these options with your Social Security lawyer is important prior to making a decision. If you did not have the benefit of a lawyer at the time you applied, speaking with one after the fact may cause you to learn why in fact you were denied and what might be done to rectify matters going forward. Read More...

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