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Living with Depression can be difficult and exhausting. Individuals afflicted often find it difficult to work.. We've helped thousands of people with Depression get the disability benefits they need. Our Social Security lawyers will treat you with dignity and respect every step along the way in your disability claim.
If you or a loved one is living with depression, here is information you need:
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Depression is a recognized mental disorder by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and a serious mental illness that a many people suffer from. Depression has a number of signs and symptoms that the SSA will take into consideration when looking at your disability claim. If you suffer from depression and are applying for disability benefits, there are certain things you should be aware of when applying.
Depression falls under listing 12.00, 'Mental Disorders.' Certain requirements in your condition must be met in order to be eligible for benefits. SSA will need medically documented evidence of the following symptoms: depressive syndrome, including sleep disturbance, hallucinations, weight changes, and suicidal thoughts, among others; any concentration disturbances or hardships; psychological testing; possible failed work attempts; and trouble with daily and social functioning.
The key to applying for disability benefits for your depression is medically documented evidence. SSA will be needing proof of your condition from its beginning point to the current time. It is absolutely essential that you maintain treatment for your depression and maintain a good relationship with a therapist and psychiatrist. SSA will need as much information as possible when making a decision on your case.
If you are unsure of the severity of your depression, don't despair. Besides looking at your medical records, SSA will be conducting a thorough search to find out in detail how your depression disorder affects your ability to function on a daily basis and work. SSA will be looking to find out how your condition has affected your past work and any jobs that you may be able to perform in the future. Make sure that SSA has obtained all of your records from all of your treating physicians because these detailed records can end up being the difference between winning your claim at the onset versus needing to file an appeal.
About Social Security Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration provides disability services for Americans unable to work due to illness or disability.
There are 2 types of disability benefits provided, and if Depression has affected your health and you are unable to return to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
SSI for Disability vs. SSDI Benefits
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is an entitlement program for those with limited income and resources and is available regardless of work history. It is a welfare based system and based on your income and resources.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for workers who have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes and is similar to the familiar retirement benefits program.
What’s The Difference Between SSI and SSDI? Which One Do I Need?
The Federal Government provides two different benefits for Americans who become disabled and are no longer able to work. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for workers who have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes and is similar to the familiar retirement benefits program. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is an entitlement program for those with limited income and resources and is available regardless of work history.
Can I apply for both benefits?
You can and should apply for both SSDI and SSI benefits! It is possible that you will qualify for both programs and have concurrent entitlement, but even if you don’t you should still apply for both.
What are the qualifications for SSDI?
- You must be a United States citizen or permanent resident;
- You must not yet be eligible to claim retirement benefits (under 65);
- You must have worked recently enough and for enough time;
- You must be disabled by the Social Security Administration’s definition
To determine if you have worked recently enough and for enough time to qualify for benefits, the Social Security Administration uses a "credit" system. Certain income levels earn you "credits" within a year and if at a certain age you have enough credits you can qualify for SSDI benefits. To find out if you qualify or for a free consultation regarding SSDI benefits fill out the Contact Us form today or give us a call at 888.240.0710.
What are the qualifications for SSI?
- You must earn less than a specific income level set by the Social Security Administration;
- You must have limited resources;
- You must be a United States citizen (there are a few exceptions);
- You must be disabled by the Social Security Administration’s definition
This benefit is designed for disabled citizens with limited means and the Social Security Administration measures this by determining your income level and the value of your "resources". Resources can include cash reserves, stocks, bonds, or any asset that could be converted into cash. If you have questions about whether or not you meet the resource or income limitation for SSI benefits please contact us.
Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Benefits and Depression:
- How to apply for disability
- Disability law: How will a disability lawyer help me?
- How can I afford an attorney when I'm not working?
- What can I do to improve my chances of winning SSI or SSD benefits?
- How long will I receive benefits?
- What other benefits could I qualify for?
- How do I get started?
The initial application process: An explanation
The first step when applying for Social Security Disability Benefits begins with the initial application. The initial application process takes roughly 4-6 months to have a decision made. The initial application can be filed online or at the claimant's local Social Security Office.
The disability application includes detailed information regarding your condition and work history. Once the initial application is filed, it is processed by Social Security in 2-4 weeks and sent to Disability Determination Services. The Disability Determination Services is where the application resides for the majority of the process. The case is assigned to an adjudicator within 1-2 months of being filed and the adjudicator is in charge of the case until a decision is eventually made.
What does an adjudicator do?
The first step an adjudicator takes is to request copies of all medical records from the sources listed in the initial application. To obtain further information adjudicators typically send out additional forms referred to as ADL's, or activities of daily living. The ADL's provide Social Security with an idea of how the disability affects the claimant's life on a daily basis. Once all medical records have been received by the adjudicator as well as the ADL's, the adjudicator reviews all the evidence that has been obtained. This is usually the halfway point of the initial application process.
The importance of evidence
If there is sufficient evidence provided in the records to make a determination about whether the claimant is fully disabled, the adjudicator will make a decision and send out the notice. However, if the claimant's medical records are not detailed enough, the adjudicator will request that a Consultative Exam, or a doctor's appointment with a doctor designated by Social Security. These exams are generally brief and designed to provide only the missing information the adjudicator needs. Once the exam has been scheduled and completed, the doctor will send the adjudicator the written report.
Final medical review
The final medical review will then take place with all the necessary evidence. The final medical review is completed by another doctor to make an objective decision. This doctor is to decide if the claimant will be able to return to any type of work. This final review is the last step and typically occurs between the 4th and 6th month after the application. Once a decision is made, the case is sent back to Social Security and within 2 weeks a decision notice is sent out. This is either a favorable decision or a denial, which can be appealed and taken to the next level.
Should I hire a lawyer for the disability benefits application filing process?
A Social Security Disability Attorney is familiar with the application process. This is beneficial because all paperwork needs to be filled out properly and on time. This is crucial because the Social Security Administration (SSA) will deny your disability claim for a technical error or a missed filing deadline.
Besides the technical aspects of my disability benefits application, why else do I need an attorney?
An attorney familiar with the process and the law can relieve you of stress. The attorney who specializes in Social Security law will know what it takes to win your case. The attorney can look through your medical evidence (medical records) and determine weaknesses in your case. The attorney can advise you on how to minimize these weaknesses. The attorney can also tell you what steps to take in order to strengthen your case. Simply following the SSA instructions on the application will not give you the understanding and strategy an attorney can provide.
Why is it better to have an attorney representing me at my disability benefits hearing in front of the administrative law judge?
More disability benefits cases are won when there is a lawyer representing the disabled individual. The attorney role is very important at the hearing level:
- Before the hearing your attorney will review your file at the SSA office, and submit any medical evidence that is missing. (This is important because the judge cannot consider any missing evidence when making a decision.)
- During the hearing your attorney will present an opening and closing statement to the judge that will contain the strongest points of your case.
- If the judge requests that your attorney question you about your disability at the hearing, your attorney can let you know ahead of time what questions he/she will ask. If the judge wants to question you, your attorney can let you know ahead of time what sort of questions will be asked.
- If there is a Medical Expert or Vocational Expert testifying at your hearing, your attorney can cross-examine and discredit their testimony if what he/she says goes against your being awarded benefits.
Your Social Security disability attorney should not charge you any up front fees. Your attorney's fees have to be approved by the Social Security Administration. Your attorney gets paid only when you are found disabled by the Social Security Administration and found entitled to retroactive benefits. Your attorney is paid directly from the Social Security Administration when your retroactive benefits check is cut.
How much do I have to pay my attorney?
As the law is written your attorney is entitled to 25% of your retroactive benefits not to exceed $6000. If your retroactive benefits check is $15,000, 25% of that amount is $3,750. This is the amount the Social Security Administration will take out of your check and mail to your attorney. Your retroactive benefits check is written for $11,250 ($15,000- $3,750.) The only other costs you are responsible for are "out of pocket" expenses incurred by your attorney as he/she prepared your case. An example of this expense is the money the attorney paid for obtaining your medical records. "Out of pocket" expenses should be minimal and are usually collected after you receive your award from the Social Security Administration.
Due to the complexity of the Social Security Disability application process, it is recommended to hire an attorney early on in the process. It is important to seek out an attorney that specializes in this type of law.
Maintain regular and consistent treatment with physicians that support your claim for disability. If you cannot afford to maintain treatment with private physicians please contact our office and we will refer you to free clinics and county facilities where treatment can be obtained free of charge.
Until you reach full retirement age or until your condition improves to the point where you are able to work on a full time sustained basis for a period in excess of nine months. Social Security has instituted a number of provisions to encourage individuals to attempt a return to work without jeopardizing their disability payments. Remember, just because you may have worked for a short period of time after the onset of your illness you may still be entitled to a full period of disability.
Once you are awarded Social Security Disability you could possibly qualify for other benefits depending on your individual qualifications. These programs include:
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
This program is based on Income and Assets, therefore if you have a limited amount of income and assets you could qualify if you are found disabled. This program is federally funded and provided monthly payments to people over the age of 65 and individuals who are found disabled or blind. The amount received depending on the cost of living in your state, each state has different cost of living amounts. If you qualify for SSI you may also qualify for Medicaid and Food Stamps.
The amount of Income you receive depends on wages, Social Security benefits, pensions, food and shelter. If you are married your spouse's income and resources also count in determining your payment. If you are under the age of 18 the income and resources of your parents count in determining your payment.
Resources are real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds. Depending on the amount of the resource could determine your payment.
This benefit is awarded to you if qualify for SSI. This program is a federally funded for individuals and families with low income and resources. The state provides up to half of the funding and in some states local counties contribute to the fund. This is a means-based social program.
After you have received disability benefits for 24 months under Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) you will be eligible for the government funded health insurance Medicare. This program is a social insurance program which is federally funded, which provides two parts: Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. You will begin to receive information about Medicare several months before your coverage starts requesting that you select a health plan and a provider and what to expect under Medicare.
Is there any help for low-income Medicare beneficiaries?
If you receive Medicare and are also low income with limited resources you may qualify for your state to pay your Medicare premiums and some "out-of-pocket" medical expenses (deductibles and coinsurance). The ultimate decision is up to your state; if you would like more information contact your state, local welfare office, or Medicaid agency. You can also call Medicare toll-free number 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
Food Stamps (SNAP benefits)
You may also qualify for food stamps, Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (now referred to as SNAP benefits) through your local welfare office or Social Security office. You can also apply online through your local county.
Complete the form above for a free case evaluation or call us toll free at 888.240.0710 today.
Disability Group, Inc.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
Disability Group, Inc. is a private law firm. Its principal office is in Santa Monica, California, 604 Arizona Avenue. Managing partner, Ronald Miller, Esq. is admitted only in California and Michigan. The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask the lawyer to send you free written information about the lawyer's qualifications and experience. Prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future matter, including yours, in which a lawyer or law firm may be retained. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. Additional fees may apply.