Social Security Disability FAQs

Illinois Social Security Disability Law Firm

How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

There are multiple ways to apply for Social Security disability in Illinois. You can visit a local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, telephone the SSA at 1-800-772-1213, or complete the disability application online (note that you can’t apply for SSI online.) SSA’s offices are often very busy, and if you’d like to apply for disability in person it’s usually best to call the SSA’s 1-800 number to arrange an appointment ahead of time. If leaving home is difficult for you, it is also possible to schedule an appointment to apply for disability via telephone. Many of those who are unable to work due to a disability in Illinois feel overwhelmed by the disability application process and choose to hire a helpful New Lenox Social Security lawyer to assist them in applying for disability benefits.

What Information do I need to apply for disability benefits?

Before applying for disability in Illinois, gather the following information. You’ll need this to complete the disability application and accompanying “Disability Report” form.

  • Names, contact information, and dates of employment for your previous employers
  • Names, contact information and treatment dates for all of your medical providers
  • The dates and locations of any hospitalizations related to your disabling conditions
  • The dates and results of any tests you’ve had done related to your disability
  • A list of your current medications, including the name, dose, frequency, date prescribed, and prescribing physician
  • The dates of any military service and reason for discharge
  • If married, your spouse’s full name, date of birth, Social Security number, and the date of your marriage. You’ll also need this information regarding your former spouse if you were married for at least 10 years.

How do I appeal my Social Security disability denial?

If your application for Social Security disability has been denied (which happens over 70% of the time in Illinois,) you can appeal the decision by filing a “Request for Reconsideration” form with the SSA. If you receive a second denial, you can then complete a “Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge.” The SSA must receive these disability appeals forms within 65 days of the date on your denial letter, unless you can demonstrate a legitimate reason for missing this deadline. It is also possible to appeal an unfavorable decision following a disability hearing by requesting that the Appeals Council review your claim, and then by filing a case in Federal court. However, things get much more complicated at this stage and relatively few applicants are approved for benefits at these two appeals levels. While retaining an experienced Tinley Park, Illinois Social Security attorney is extremely beneficial at any point in the disability application process, it is absolutely essential if your claim progresses to this point.

How long does the Social Security disability process take?

It is generally not a fast process. Most Illinois disability applicants receive their first decision approximately 3-4 months after they complete their disability application. If their claim has been denied and a Request for Reconsideration is filed, it usually takes another 1-3 months for the reconsideration decision to be made. For the approximately 85% of Illinois disability applicants whose claims are denied upon reconsideration, the wait for a disability hearing can be very long. In fact, the average wait for a disability hearing in Illinois is a whopping 575 days. Keep in mind that this is calculated from the date the request for a hearing is filed, at which point most disability claimants have already endured a 6 month wait while their claim progressed through the first two steps in the disability process. For this reason, it’s a good idea to do everything you can to increase the chances that your disability claim will be approved prior to this stage, including hiring a qualified Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois disability lawyer.

What’s the difference between Social Security disability and SSI benefits?

Social Security Disability Insurance (sometimes called SSD or SSDI) is a federal benefit program that provides cash payments to individuals who are unable to work due to illness or injury – and who have paid enough into the Social Security system to be eligible (this is called earning “work credits” or “quarters of coverage.”) Stated another way, to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to be eligible. The exact requirements are complex and depend on many factors, but as a general rule, you will likely qualify for disability benefits if you have worked five out of the last ten years. However, there are many loopholes, exceptions, and various circumstances that can change this. A knowledgeable Chicago disability attorney can review your situation and help you determine if you are eligible for SSDI.

On the other hand, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal disability program that’s based on financial need, and not prior work experience. While there are no requirements in terms of previous employment, there are strict asset and income limits. In most cases, your assets must total less than $2,000 to be eligible for SSI (not including the home you live in.) However, the way that your income and assets are calculated is very complicated and there are many exemptions. It’s best to direct questions regarding SSI eligibility to a skilled New Lenox, Illinois disability attorney.

How does the SSA decide if I am disabled?

Generally, the SSA will determine that you’re disabled if your medical or psychiatric condition(s) make you unable to perform any type of work for at least a year. Note that you will be evaluated for your ability to do any job, and not just the type of work you’ve done previously. For example, if the SSA finds that you could work in a job that allows you to sit the majority of the time, your disability claim will be denied –even if you’ve never done this type of work before.

Numerous items including medical records, your personal accounts, and possibly the result of a SSA-sanctioned examination will be used to evaluate the extent of your impairments. This is the most broad definition of disability, and there are many specific ways that you can prove you are disabled under the SSA’s guidelines. A qualified SSD lawyer can explain these and determine the best way to handle your particular disability claim.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for Social Security disability?

No. There is no requirement that you be represented by an attorney if you are applying for disability benefits. However, there are many benefits to hiring an experienced Social Security disability lawyer. A knowledgeable disability attorney is intricately familiar with the Social Security disability process and can ensure that everything is done correctly, avoiding small mistakes that could delay the processing of your claim. They can work with your doctors and medical providers to obtain the necessary evidence and can submit this to the SSA in a timely manner. A good disability lawyer will keep in touch with the claims adjudicator who is handling your file, ensuring that all evidence is being evaluated appropriately. They can also assist you in completing forms and reports, file your appeals for you, prepare you for your disability hearing, and of course, answer all of your questions along the way. The best part is that Illinois Social Security lawyers work on a contingency basis. There is no upfront cost to hire a qualified disability attorney – and you will only pay them if you are granted disability benefits. Contact us at our convenient offices in New Lenox, Tinley Park and Oakbrook Terrace.

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