Common Questions

To assist your understanding of the important issues related to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims, below are answers to questions frequently asked by claimants.

Q. Am I disabled?

A. To qualify for and receive SSDI and/or SSI benefits, you must have physical or mental health conditions (or a combination of conditions) severe enough that you are unable to work in any paying job for at least 12 months. To qualify, you essentially have to be totally disabled. In deciding your case, the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes into account your medical condition, remaining ability to work, age, education, training and work experience. The SSDI and SSI programs do not provide benefits simply because you have been unable to get a job lately, or because you are unable to return to your old job. The government instead assesses whether you are capable of performing jobs that exist in the economy in significant numbers.

Q. Where do I file my claim for SSDI benefits?

A. You can file a claim WITH OUR OFFICE OR in person at your local Social Security office, or by calling 1-800-772-1213, or online at www.ssa.gov. After you have filed an application for benefits, the SSA turns over your claim to your state’s division of Disability Determination Services (DDS), which will consider and determine your claim.

Q. Do I need to wait 12 months before filing a claim for SSDI benefits?

A. No. Once you know after consulting with your doctor that you may be unable to work for 12 months or more, you should file for benefits immediately. Otherwise, by waiting longer than necessary to apply you risk losing benefits to which you are legally entitled. If you are eligible to receive Disability Insurance Benefits, you can only recover retroactive benefits for the 12-month period preceding the date you submit your application for benefits. If you wait more than a year from the date you stop working to apply for benefits, you risk losing more benefits with each passing month.

Q. Should I file for unemployment benefits while waiting for the government to determine my claim for SSDI benefits?

A. No. When you file for unemployment benefits, you generally have to state that you are physically and mentally capable of working. This contradicts what you claim in seeking Disability benefits, specifically, that you are unable to work for 12 months or more. If you have received unemployment benefits at any time during the period you allege that you are disabled, the government may deny you SSDI benefits.

Q. How difficult is it to obtain SSDI and/or SSI benefits?

A. It can be very difficult because the government has strict guidelines on what it considers to be a “disability.” Your injuries must be serious and you need detailed medical records to support your claim.

Q. What can I do if the government denies my benefits?

A. IF YOU RETAIN THE LAW OFFICES OF DR. BILL LATOUR we will request a Request for Reconsideration or a Request for Hearing before your deadline for filing the appeal. It’s understandable to become disheartened after receiving a notice denying your application for disability benefits. But it’s important to not give up. You are not alone. Nationally, the SSA denies about 60 percent of all SSDI and SSI claims initially. But many claimants eventually receive benefits by appealing the initial denial of their claims. IF YOU HAVE NOT RETAINED THE LAW OFFICES OF DR. BILL LATOUR you should contact your local Social Security office to file a request for reconsideration or a request for hearing, depending on the stage of your denial. It’s important to act quickly because you only have 60 days from the day you received your denial notice to file your appeal. If you miss the deadline, you have to start your application process anew, and you may also permanently lose the right to much needed back benefits.

Q. Will my application for benefits be approved on reconsideration?

A. Probably not, but don’t be discouraged. The SSA approves relatively few claims for benefits at this stage of the process. It’s a hurdle that must be overcome. Obtaining benefits sometimes requires pursuing several layers of appeal. The SSA itself is even considering doing away with the reconsideration step so that claimants can request a hearing if their claim is initially denied.

Q. What is a hearing?

A. This is a crucial step in the appeals process. You have the best chance of winning at this stage. Nationally, more than half of all hearings result in claimants receiving benefits. You must file a request for a hearing within 60 days from the date you receive notice of the SSA’s denial of your reconsideration request.

A hearing typically works like this: An Administrative Law Judge [ALJ] will preside, taking testimony under oath and considering other evidence. A hearing is not as formal as a trial in a regular court, where stricter rules of evidence apply. The judge will accept medical records as evidence. In fact, medical records are an essential part of the case because your word alone on your physical and mental condition is insufficient to prove that you are disabled. The judge or your attorney will ask you about your medical condition, medical history, abilities, education, training, work experience and the limitations caused by your disability. You may present witnesses. You also have the right to cross-examine medical or vocational experts who are sometimes called by the judge to testify. You or your attorney may make a closing argument that you are entitled to SSDI and/or SSI benefits under Social Security regulations.

Q. When should I contact an attorney?

A. Although you can file an initial claim on your own and represent yourself throughout the claim process, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after you think you have a SSDI or SSI claim. The SSA applies the same legal rules in the early stages of a case as it uses in the more formal hearing and appeals levels. Contacting the Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour at the outset of your claim can enhance your ability to present your best case to the SSA from the very beginning stages. We can assist you at any point of the process, especially if you have requested a hearing before an ALJ]. Our skilled, experienced lawyers and staff can gather the needed medical records, effectively question witnesses and argue the merits of your case on your behalf. Using the Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour to focus on the details of your case allows you to focus on what’s most important – recovering your physical and mental well-being.

Q. What if I’ve already lost at the hearing stage?

A. If you are still within 60 days of the day you received a written notice of the ALJ’s decision denying benefits, it is not too late to continue pursuing your claim. You should contact the Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour immediately. We may still find a way to win your case at the Appeals Council or at federal court.

Q. What is the Appeals Council?

A. The Appeals Council is the final review agency of the SSA. It may uphold the ALJ’s decision on your case, or send the case back to an Administrative Law Judge to hold a new hearing and enter a new decision. A claimant can appeal a decision from the Appeals Council in federal court.

Q. What information will my attorney need from me?

A. At your initial meeting with the Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour, be sure to bring all of your Social Security papers, including any denial notices and appeals forms if you have already started your claim. You should also provide medical records related to your disability if you have them in your possession.

It’s also helpful if you provide the following information:

  • The names and addresses of all the doctors you have seen for your disabling impairment and the approximate dates you saw the doctors;
  • The names and addresses of the hospitals where you have been treated and the dates of your treatments;
  • The names and addresses of your employers during the last 15 years, as well as dates of employment for each employer and a brief description of your job duties;
  • The name of each medication you are presently taking, the dosage and the name of the prescribing doctor.

The Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour serve clients with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims throughout Southern California.  Contact us today at (800) 803-5090, or through our online form for a free initial consultation and assessment of your claim. Remember: you owe us nothing unless you receive SSDI and/or SSI benefits.

Contact Us Today For Your Free Consultation

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1420 E. Cooley Drive
Colton, CA 92324

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(800) 803-5090