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Frequently Asked Questions

Should I apply?

To receive disability benefits from SSA, you must have a severe impairment that prevents you from working. You will need medical evidence that shows your impairment and how it restricts you from doing basic tasks. This condition must have lasted, or expected to last, at least 12 consecutive months. SSA also has benefits for someone who has a diagnosis of terminal illness.

SSA will grant disability benefits to you if you cannot do your past work and not even the very basic, unskilled, entry level jobs that exist in the nation.

If you meet these basic questions, you should consider filing for disability.


I did not work long enough to get Disability?

If you have not worked or not worked enough to qualify for disability on your work account, you should look at Supplemental Security Income benefits. This requires the same elements of proof for disability, but is paid only if the individual has no resources or assets worth $2,000 or more. There are exemptions for some basics for transportation and housing.


How long does the disability take?

It is difficult to predict how long the process will take. Every case is different. It is much quicker in some areas than others. The complexity of the case may also determine how long it takes. Usually, it will take 90 days to 120 days for a decision to be made on your application.


What does the process involve?

The first stage is your application for disability (DIB, SSI or both). SSA will ask for information on all the doctors you have seen because of your impairment. You can help by making sure ALL the medical is reviewed by SSA. The majority of claimants will be denied after their application, and they will need to appeal the NOTICE OF DENIAL. That appeal is a Request for Reconsideration. If that appeal is denied, you can file a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Judge. There can be further appeals, but hopefully you won’t need to go further.


When do you recommend I seek an attorney?

Most individuals will make the application and wait to see if their claim is approved. There would be no cost for an attorney if the claim is approved in this manner. You can have the assistance an attorney at any stage. The process can make some individuals too stressed out to feel comfortable dealing with the SSA. That is the time to hire an attorney. Experienced attorneys are trained to deal with the process and you can rely on an experienced attorney to take that pressure off you.


What does a lawyer do?

An experienced attorney presents your case in the best possible view. By obtaining all medical records that prove your impairment(s), the attorney will argue how the evidence (medical records, testimony, school records, other documents, etc.) prove you cannot do any past work and cannot do any other job that exists in the national economy.


Does my age make a difference?

Yes, it can. There can be Childhood Disability as well as the more common adult disability claims. If you have reached the ages of 50, 55, or even 60, there can be significant differences in how SSA will deal with your claim. It is important that the age categories are developed in many cases.


How much does a lawyer cost?

SSA’s regulations strictly control how any attorney or representative is paid. The attorney is paid only if you win and awarded disability with “back pay.” “Back pay” is the monthly benefit payment that you are owed from the date you claimed disability. That date is the “onset” date. The attorney is paid 25% of the back pay up to a currently limited maximum of $6,000.00. There may be additional costs for records and such for which you might be obligated to reimburse the attorney.

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  • Tacoma Office
    13400 Pacific Avenue S.
    Suite 101
    Tacoma, Washington 98444
    Phone: 253-535-3885
    Fax: 253-535-3887