Common Questions and Answers
Do I need a representative to help me apply for Social Security disability benefits?
No. You can apply on your own, but your odds of success are lower without an expert guide. When you choose Champion Disability Advocates as your representative, you get a helping hand from proven disability specialists and lawyers. We lead you through the process step by step. We cut through as much red tape as possible to speed things along and improve your chances to get approval in the shortest time.
What will Champion Disability Advocates do for me at the initial application level?
- Help you with the complicated application and make sure your impairments are clearly documented, improving your chance for approval as fast as possible.
- Coordinate your claim with your Social Security Administration (SSA) office.
- Track your case with Disability Determination Services (DDS) and ensure you receive all messages and requests from their office on a timely basis.
- Explain the process as it unfolds and answer all your questions along the way.
- Prepare you for your interview with SSA (known as a PERC interview) if you are approved.
How will I pay for your help?
There is no cost to you during the process, or ever if your benefits are denied. Champion Disability Advocates never bills you for postage, phone calls or copies of your medical records. You only pay fees if you are approved and receive a lump sum for back benefits that are due you. Fees are set by law and approved by SSA. When we agree to represent you, you will sign a Social Security form appointing Champion Disability Advocates as your representative and a Champion Fee Agreement.
How long does it take Social Security to approve or deny my application?
While there are some claims that are approved “presumptively” (right away) during the process, it usually takes three to eight months for SSA to approve or deny your initial disability benefit application.
When will payments to me begin after my disability income benefits are approved?
It depends on the program for which you are qualified and the onset date established by Social Security for your disability. Monthly income benefits may begin as early as the date that your application is filed, or they may not begin for up to six months after the onset date of your disability. Also, unless you are approved presumptively, you will receive a lump sum payment for back benefits due you.
What is a lump sum payment?
A lump sum is a retroactive benefit payment. This amount represents the totally monthly income payments due to you between the date you became entitled to receive benefits and the date Social Security actually approves your benefits.
What is an onset date?
An onset date is the date Social Security determines your disability began.
What if my application for disability benefits is denied?
Applications are denied for many reasons. For instance, you may not be able to prove that you will remain disabled for at least 12 months at the time of Social Security’s decision. If your application is denied and you’re still unable to work, Champion Disability Advocates can help you appeal the decision. A Champion Disability Advocates attorney who specializes in disability claims law will represent you. You have 60 days after receiving your Notice of Denial to request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Why should I appeal my denial instead of filing another application?
When you file a new application instead of appealing a denial, you risk losing retroactive benefit payments. People lose their chances for thousands of dollars in lump sum benefits by filing new claims instead of appealing denials. During appeal, many denials are reversed and benefits are approved. In addition, ALJs have much more discretion than the examiners at the initial level. A much higher percent of claims are approved at the hearings level than at the initial application level.
Why should I use a Champion Disability Advocates attorney for my appeal?
At a Social Security, you testify about your condition, and at least one expert appears as an expert witness. How your case is argued and how expert witnesses are cross-examined can make the difference between winning and losing your appeal. Champion Disability Advocates is unique because you have a team of medical experts plus a qualified attorney, not just a certified representative, to represent your interests. Champion Disability Advocates attorneys specialize in this area of law and work closely with our disability experts to thoroughly understand your medical issues. As a result, your chance of winning your appeal and receiving benefits is greatly improved with Champion Disability Advocates as your representative.
How important are success rates when choosing a representative?
Approval rates depend on the type of cases. For example, if a representative chooses to represent only wheelchair-bound clients, his or her success rate should be close to 100%. Other representatives may have lower success rates because they accept the more difficult cases that others refuse. Many representatives who brag about their very high success rates accept only cases that are easily proven disabled.
Since Champion Disability Advocates is a mission-driven organization, we accept difficult cases that others won’t represent. In accepting difficult cases and winning many of them, we develop the skills to represent all clients in the most capable manner. There is nothing for you to lose and much to gain by having the best represent you. Why settle for less?
How much monthly income will I receive?
The amount of your monthly disability income benefit is based on your past earnings and reported on your Social Security Statement which is mailed to you each year. The average SSD monthly benefit is about $1,150; the average monthly SSI benefit is about $550. Of course, the amount you receive, if approved, could be higher or lower.
Does Social Security ever take away SSD benefits?
Social Security re-evaluates your medical condition from time to time. If it is found that your condition has improved sufficiently for you to work, your benefits may end as a result. If you are notified that your benefits are to end, you may appeal that decision.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or a Disability Insurance Benefit (DIB)?
Social Security Disability Insurance or “SSDI” is a federal insurance program funded by payroll taxes. When individuals cannot work and are considered to have a disability that meets SSA’s eligibility criteria, they receive a monthly Disability Insurance Benefit (DIB) based on their reported and taxed earnings.
SSDI is not a needs-based program. In other words, you may have assets and other income from investments and still receive disability income benefits. In some cases, family members of the disabled individual may be eligible to receive money from Social Security too.
What is Supplement Security Income (SSI)?
Individuals without sufficient earnings who become disabled before their full retirement age may qualify for Supplemental Security Income or “SSI.” This needs-based program provides monthly income to individuals with limited income and assets who have a disability, are blind, or are at full retirement. Children can also get SSI benefits if they have a disability and their family has limited income and assets. In most instances, SSI beneficiaries are also entitled to receive Medicaid to provide for their medical needs.