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The Law Offices of Attorney Daniel W. Stern
York Social Security Disability Attorney

Social Security Disability Lawyer in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Cumberland

Social Security Disability Lawyer

What if you or a member of your family becomes completely disabled or so impaired that it becomes impossible to work at any job? You may be eligible for social security benefits.

What Benefits Are Available? The Social Security system offers two categories of possible benefits to someone who is so disabled.
  1. Social Security Disability - To be eligible, you must be insured under the social security system. That means that you must have worked at a job and paid taxes into the social security systems for at least 40 calendar quarters. The disability must be proved to have begun within 5 years (or less) of the date when you last worked. The last day of eligibility is referred to as the "Date Last Insured".
  2. Supplemental Security Income Benefits - If you do not meet the work requirement for disability benefits, you may still be eligible to receive supplemental security income benefits (SSI). The medical proof is the same as that required to get disability benefits. However, SSI benefits are based on need, so your eligibility to receive money depends on whether you have other income or live with people who do.

Unlike workers' compensation benefits, which you get only if you can prove your work caused or aggravated your injury or disease, you do not have to prove what caused your disabling physical or mental health problems to get SSD or SSI benefits. But you do have to prove that your health problems are serious enough to keep you from working and are expected to last at least 12 consecutive months.

Children who are mentally or physically disabled are entitled to SSI benefits, and applications my be filed on their behalf by their parents or guardians.

Medicare Benefits
After you have been eligible for disability benefits for 24 months, you are eligible for Medicare benefits which can pay for hospitalization and medical expenses. If you choose to receive Medicare Part B benefits, SSA will deduct a monthly premium from your disability check to cover the cost.

How Can I Apply?
You can file an application for benefits with your local social security office which can be found in the government pages of the phone book. Some offices will take applications by telephone. Be prepared to give relevant information about your claim including work history, medical history, including the names and addresses of all the doctors you have seen, and the date on which you believe you became disabled, meaning unable to work at all.

You can also apply online by going to the Social Security Administration's website, which is www.ssa.gov.

To collect medical information about your claim, the Social Security Administration will ask you to sign a medical records release form, and it may send you to an independent physician for an exam. You should be absolutely straightforward and cooperative in such an exam. You do not need to prove your case to the doctor. Just tell the truth.

What if the Social Security Administration Rules Against you? The Administration will notify you in writing of any denial of your claim. You may appeal online or by sending a letter to your local social security office within 60 days of the date of the denial letter. In your letter, you need only include your name, address, social security number and the words, "I request a hearing following the denial of my claim. I believe that I am totally disabled." Always keep a copy of your letter and any other correspondence you receive from the administration. SSA may ask you to complete additional documents to send back to their offices. Again, you can carry out this step yourself and you do not need the services of a lawyer. If you have additional information, you can include it with your hearing request. If you need help filing either your application of your appeal, please call and we will help you with it after we have a chance to talk to you and review your medical records.

The Hearing
This hearing is your first real chance to testify about your condition and to call witnesses to describe the effect of your disability on your life. You may also introduce additional reports from your doctor, and any other relevant information.

The hearing is held at the SSA's office of Hearings and Appeals at the location closest to your home address. The procedure is informal, but all testimony is under oath. The government does not have a lawyer, so you are not cross-examined. The Judge may ask you questions about your work history, medical history, treatment, and your daily activities. You may be asked why you believe you cannot work. The Judge may ask a vocational expert to testify regarding whether or not there are jobs you can perform in light of your age, education, work experience, and medical condition.

Many claims which are initially denied by the Social Security Administration can be won at the hearing. This is particularly true if your lawyer is experienced in evaluating the complicated regulations which define certain recognized diseases or impairments, and is familiar with the legal analysis which the judge who hears your case must be perform. It is important to produce current medical records and reports from your doctors to establish the legitimacy of your complaints. That, and your truthful testimony, is often sufficient to win the case.

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