Social Security and Veterans Benefits

Do I need a lawyer to file for Social Security?
No, but an attorney experienced in these areas can help you navigate the forms, the processes, the medical reporting expectations, and prepare you for the hearing. They can also appeal any declined requests for Social Security Disability which are very common. Since Social Security Disability attorneys work on contingency, if they decide to take your case, you won’t have to pay for their services until your claim is paid. If you want to attempt the process on your own, you can do so through the Social Security Administration. You can also use a Non-attorney Disability Representative. See “Where to Read More” for links or visit lawyer listings on Columbus Find a Lawyer.
What criteria does the Social Security Administration use to determine work credits?
The SSA bases their decision on whether the adult has worked long enough and recently enough to qualify for disability benefits and whether they qualify as having a disability under Social Security guidelines and evaluation. Workers earn Social Security “work credits” based on total yearly wages or self-employment income and they can earn up to four credits each year. The dollar amount needed to earn to equal one credit changes from year to year but, in 2007, one credit was earned for each $1,000 of wages or self-employment income earned. The number of work credits needed to qualify for disability benefits depends on the age of the person when they became disabled but generally you must have 20 credits in the 10 years prior to your becoming disabled. Sometimes younger workers will qualify with fewer credits.
For adults, what criteria must a Social Security disability meet to be considered legitimate?
For an adult, disability under Social Security is based on inability to work because of a physical or mental medical condition or combination of impairments. To be considered disabled, you must be unable to do work you did before and the SSA must decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of a medical condition. Also, your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death. The SSA will use a five-step evaluation process to decide whether you meet their standards of total disability. SSA offers only benefits only for total disability, no benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability. The process considers any current work activity you are doing, your age and education, your past work history, and your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work.
Can I file for Social Security Disability benefits on my own?
Yes, you can file on your own if you wish. The Social Security Administration website has forms you can either fill out online or print out and send in. See links to SSA in “Where to Read More”. You can also apply at any Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213. Pay careful attention to rules, forms, procedures, and medical records that the SSA requires and be prepared for an initial denial (which is common) after which you will need to file an appeal within 60 days. If you are represented by a lawyer with experience in Social Security Disability or a Non-attorney Disability Representative, they can advise you of the best options and practices for successful claims. See “Where to Read More” in the Social Security area for links to related sites or visit the lawyer listings on Columbus Find a Lawyer.
When should I contact a lawyer to help with Social Security issues?
A lawyer can help at any step but most lawyers prefer to accept a case after the initial or reconsideration denial. You should definitely contact a lawyer as early as possible if your case is at the hearing level.
Can I get Social Security benefits for my disabled child?
If your family meets the SSI income and resource requirements, you can apply for SSI for a disabled child. An individual under the age of 18 can be considered disabled if the child has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.