Will Social Security Consider You Disabled?
Social Security has their own definition of who is disabled. The mere fact that you cannot work is not enough for Social Security to grant you benefits. Social Security considers you disabled if you have a condition (physical or mental) that keeps you from working for at least one year.
This means that you cannot do just your regular job, but any job. Before Social Security will find you disabled, you will have to prove that you could not do even simple work that requires no skill. In determining what work you could do, Social Security will consider your work history and age. In defining disabled this way, Social Security has set the bar very high. It is highly unlikely that you could convince a Federal judge that you are disabled on your own. The Social Security regulations, including their list of impairments they consider disabling, is hundreds of pages long. Your claim has to fit into those regulations or Social Security will deny you.
What Sorts Of Conditions Does Social Security Consider Disabling?
Social Security will consider a broad variety of illnesses, both physical and mental, disabling. Disabling conditions can include heart disease, strokes, cancer, back pain, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, or arthritis. Disabling conditions can also include anxiety, depression, and such serious mental illnesses as schizophrenia. Contrary to what you might have heard or read, Social Security can still find you disabled if you are addicted to alcohol or drugs. In these cases, Social Security will have to find that you would still be disabled if you stopped abusing alcohol or drugs.
Do I Need A Lawyer?
Applying for and receiving Social Security disability benefits has evolved into an extremely complicated process. You can represent yourself before a Federal judge, but this will likely diminish your chances of success. A lawyer can do many things for you. These include:
- Researching your specific condition to ensure that Social Security receives all of the information they require to evaluate your condition.
- Gathering your medical records for presentation to Social Security.
- Meeting with and discussing your condition with your doctors to make sure that their reports contain all the elements that Social Security requires for proper evaluation.
- Preparing legal briefs that interpret the Social Security regulations and demonstrate how your claim meets the legal requirements.
- Review your file at Social Security to ensure that it is complete and does not contain any information that it should not.
- Advise you on how to prepare for your hearing in front of the Federal judge.
- Appearing with you in court to present evidence on your behalf. A lawyer can also cross-examine the witnesses who are testifying against you, such as vocational experts or consulting physicians.
- Ensuring that Social Security properly calculates the benefits you are due.
How Do I Pay For An Attorney?
Good news. Hiring an attorney generally does not require any sort of up-front payment. Social Security has a system of paying lawyers out of the back-due benefits they award you. If you and your lawyer enter into a contingency fee agreement, the most that Social Security will pay your lawyer is 25% of your past due benefits with a limit of $6,000. You will not owe your lawyer any additional money and Social Security will not withhold any amounts of future payments.
When you hire a lawyer on a contingency fee basis, you and he share the risk of Social Security approving your application. This ensures that your lawyer will do everything in his power to convince Social Security that you are disabled.