Social Security is often associated with benefits for older and retired Americans. But there are other benefits offered by the venerable federal program, including disability benefits. Those are remitted to many Americans through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI.)
“The SSDI program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you are “insured.” This means that you worked long enough—and recently enough— and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to adults and children with disabilities who have limited income and resources,” the Social Security website says.
“While these two programs are different, the medical requirements are the same. If you meet the non-medical requirements, monthly benefits are paid if you have a medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death.”
Sometimes, getting the ball rolling on such claims can require the services of an attorney. If you’re filing such a claim, there are some things you should know.
According to a recent article by attorney Aaron Hotfelder and published on NOLO.com, here are some basics for engaging an attorney for such cases.
“If you're thinking about hiring a disability attorney to help with your Social Security case, you should first understand the costs and benefits of having a lawyer on your side,” he said. “The costs are fairly straightforward: disability attorneys charge a fee regulated by federal law, which is usually the lesser of twenty-five percent of your disability backpay or $6,000. (Costs can increase if your case goes to the Appeals Council or federal court, but generally, you won't pay more than $6,000.) Little or no money is required up-front, and you're only charged a fee if you win your case.”
According to the author, there are very good reasons to want to hire a disability lawyer.
“The most important reason to hire an attorney to help with your disability case is that your chances of being approved are significantly increased,” he wrote. “While it's certainly true that some people who apply on their own are approved for benefits, statistics show that everything else being equal, Social Security is more likely to approve an applicant who's represented by legal counsel than one who isn’t."
Democrats in Congress, according to recent reports, are looking to expand funding for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, as part of the reconciliation-based infrastructure package currently being negotiated.
“Disabled people and the poorest of the poor haven’t had really any help in years,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told Time Magazine about the push. “They’ve just been forgotten and neglected. So it’s time we do something about it.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.