Social Security FAQ
Do I qualify for disability benefits?
You may qualify for disability benefits if you have physical or mental impairments that cause you to be unable to work. Determining whether your particular impairments qualify is no easy task. We offer a free consultation to discuss your unique situation and help you determine what benefits you may be entitled to. Call 573-755-0403 to schedule a free 30 minute consultation with one of our attorneys.
What do I need to do to apply for Social Security Disability the first time?
You can apply online at http://ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm or by calling or visiting your local Social Security office. Go to https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp to find an office near you.
I've applied for benefits, what is next?
Generally within 60 days of filing your application, Social Security will perform an initial review and you will receive a letter either approving or denying your benefits. Do not be discouraged if your application is denied. Most applications are denied at the initial review. This does not mean you have no chance of being approved. You can file an appeal and have a hearing before a judge, who will then decide whether you are approved for benefits. Many applications which are denied at the initial review are approved for benefits after an appeal.
How do I file an appeal?
You must file an appeal within 60 days of the date of your denial letter. There are a number of complicated documents that must be properly completed and filed with the Social Security office in order to appeal the denial of your application for benefits. Our office can help you with filing the proper documentation.
Do I need an attorney to file an appeal?
You are allowed to file an appeal on your own. However, having legal representation can provide great benefit to you and improve your chances of a successful appeal. Our attorneys are experienced with both the medical and legal issues that will affect your case, and with what it takes to win your appeal. Our clients find it to be a great relief to have us worry about the forms, deadlines, evidence, and other legal requirements of pursuing an appeal rather than handling the matter themselves.
What is a non-attorney representative or advocate?
A non-attorney representative or advocate is a lay person who is authorized to represent applicants in their appeal. However, these persons are not trained in the law, and are allowed to charge the same fee as attorneys for their representation. Why trust your chances to someone with little or no legal training when you could hire an attorney at the same price?
How long does it take to get a hearing for my appeal?
Wait times vary, but most cases take about a year. In Southeast Missouri, for example, your hearing generally occurs 12-15 months after you file your appeal and is set by the Social Security office, based on the volume of cases it is managing.
How much does it cost?
Our representation will not cost you anything up front. We get our attorney fee by taking a percentage of your “back pay” recovery if your case is successful. By law, our fees are limited to 25% of the “back benefits” owed to you or $6,000, whichever is less. In addition, Social Security must approve our fee before we can charge you anything.
What will your office do for my case?
We collect and evaluate evidence to build your case, including medical records. We communicate with Social Security on your behalf and submit evidence that will strengthen your case. In some cases, we are able to secure benefits for clients without the need for a hearing. If a hearing is required, we prepare you for the hearing and represent you at the hearing.
I am unable to travel from my house. Do you offer house calls?
Yes. We will make house calls to Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, and Perry Counties if it is determined after a phone conference with you that you have a viable case.
Why should I hire The Lichtenegger Law Firm?
The choice of an attorney for any representation is an important one. While there are many good attorneys out there who can get good end results, we separate ourselves by always maintaining strong representation not only before the court, but directly with you. Applying for SSDI benefits is a lengthy and confusing process. At our firm, we always keep open communication with you to ensure you understand what is going on, what is expected of you, and what the next step is.
Please feel free to call us at 573-755-0403 with any other questions you may have. We are happy to discuss our practice further with you and what we will do for your particular case.