FAQs Answers (Continued)

What about costs?

In addition to the fee, your representative may charge you for the expenses of gathering medical records, obtaining medical opinion letters, etc. Costs rarely exceed a few hundred dollars and we will discuss this with you prior to incurring any such costs.

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What should I know before talking to the SSA?

When you are eventually connected with your claim's representative. Once you call SSA and actually talk to a claims representative, always ask for his or her telephone number. They are unlisted and you cannot get them from the phone company. Do not lose the number, save the number so you can re-contact your claim representative in 3 or 4 days for a follow-up.

The SSA is a gigantic bureaucracy. Make sure to write down the names, dates and location of everyone you talk to at SSA and if you complete forms always keep copies and if at an SSA office, ask to be provided with stamped and dated copies of the records you submit. Organize your records in a file and always bring your own records to the SSA office and ask for a supervisor if you have a problem.

Finally, dealing with the SSA can be frustrating and disheartening. Do not let yourself despair.

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What happens if I try to return to work?

If you can return to work and do and subsequently fail, the Social Security Administration may deem that an unsuccessful return to work, if the monies you earn are not significant or your return to work lasts generally less than six months. If you return to work and succeed, you may have your claim changed from an open ended period of disability to a closed ended period of disability, as long as your disability made you unable to work for twelve months or more. If your return to work is successful, please let us know in writing and as to whether you want to continue on with either an open ended or closed ended period of disability.

What if I have investment income, (stocks, bonds, rental income)?

That does not generally constitute substantial gainful activity, unless you are substantially active in producing that income. This gets a bit difficult with dividends from a small business or corporation and with rental income, as these often involve some gainful activity to produce the income other than just receiving and depositing a check or moving monies from place to place on your computer. Of course, work and investment income will affect directly your SSI (Supplemental Security Income) claims as there is a need based financial offset involved.

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Why shouldn’t I just file for my Social Security Retirement Benefits early and not file for Social Security Disability?

There are advantages of receiving Social Security disability benefits. When people think of Social Security, they think of retirement benefits. But Social Security also provides financial protection in the event that you suffer a serious disability, regardless of your age. This protection is provided under the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI). Think of Social Security as an insurance program that you paid for through Social Security (FICA) taxes that were deducted from your paycheck.

There are a number of advantages to receiving Social Security disability benefits. Depending on your individual circumstances, advantages may include:

Higher Social Security retirement benefits: Generally, Social Security retirement benefits are calculated based on your average earnings during your working life. For people whose earnings have been reduced due to disability, this can mean lower retirement benefits. However, if you are approved for Social Security disability benefits, your Social Security retirement benefits will be calculated based on your earnings before your became disabled.

The impact of SSDI on your Social Security retirement benefit is significant. For example, an individual earning $50,000.00 a year who became disabled at age 40 and remained disabled until retirement would receive more than $130,000.00 in additional retirement benefits over a 20-year retirement:

We therefore recommend that you protect your future retirement benefits by filing for Social Security Disability.

Medicare eligibility: If you are found to be disabled, you will become eligible for Medicare 24 months after your Social Security effective date, regardless of your age. This is important, especially if you do not have or cannot afford private health insurance.

Automatic cost of living increases: Every year, Social Security gives SSDI recipients an increase in their benefits based on the Consumer Price Index.

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