Why Choose Us?

Staying Informed is the best defense

We understand that legal matters can be confusing and overwhelming, so we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to address some of the common concerns our clients have. From understanding the legal process to knowing your rights, our FAQ aims to provide you with the guidance and information you need to make informed decisions.

What Medical Conditions will qualify for Social Security Disability? 

Many medical conditions, assuming they prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity [SGA:  45 hours a month or $1470 in earnings a month], can support a determination of disability. The condition can be physical or mental, or a combination of both.  Social Security looks to see whether your medical conditions preclude you from performing any work in the national economy, as SSA defines it. The standard you must meet varies with your age and other factors.  [Note:  not just from the work you have always done, but more accessible work, depending on factors including age and vocational capacity).  Social Security has a specific list of impairments that will qualify you for disability without considering your vocational ability to work.  Prove you qualify to meet one of those specific impairments; however, it can be difficult. Establishing your vocational capacity (another pathway to achieving benefits) can require a technical understanding of the SSA guidelines. It may be wise to consult a Social Security disability lawyer with experience dealing with the SSA rules and various disabling impairments.   

What Can I collect for disability and Social Security retirement? 

No.  You can never collect both disability benefits AND retirement benefits. If you become disabled before retirement, you can collect social security disability benefits equal to your retirement benefits [based on what you have paid over the years].  Once you reach full retirement age, your disability benefits convert to retirement benefits.  This is important because should you cease to be disabled, you do not lose your retirement benefits.  Also, if you opt for early retirement benefits (as opposed to seeking disability benefits), you enter at a reduced rate. If you qualify for social security disability, you still come in at the total rate before retirement age. When you reach retirement age, your benefits convert to retirement but at the FULL rate. 

Can I get social security disability and still work?  

No. With two exceptions.  1.  If you can work, Social Security says you are not disabled.  If you can only work earning less than $1,470 per month (the amount changes yearly) due to your medical disability, you may still qualify. 2.  If you have been disabled and are trying to return to work for a few months, Social Security may treat this as a trial work period and not find you ineligible due to your having worked. A trial work period can only last up to 9 months.  If you earn more than $1,050 monthly, SSA may treat that as a trial work attempt. If you need to determine whether a limited period that you worked disqualifies you, you should consult a Social Security disability attorney.  

Can I collect social security disability and unemployment?  

Yes. Receipt of UC is not a legal bar to receipt of SSD (although it would be effectively a bar to SSI due to the monetary offset), BUT, to collect unemployment, you must certify that you are ready, willing, and able to work.  If you are ready, willing, and able to work, that would appear inconsistent with being disabled. However, the courts have carved out exceptions so that receipt of UC will not be a preclusion to your receiving SSD.  
Our firm has helped many folks who collected unemployment for a period achieve disability status.  You should consult a Social Security lawyer if you have collected unemployment benefits and are seeking Social Security disability benefits.  

What are my chances of winning disability with a lawyer?  

Generally, much, much better.  Lawyers who routinely handle Social Security cases must be familiar with the various rulings, regulations, and cases dealing with the intricacies of establishing eligibility. Most lay people have no reason to be familiar with the laws that Social Security follows and usually have no idea how to prove their disability.   Further, the ability to apply the law to the facts of your case is critical, particularly where you reach the administrative law judge level, and the hearing will require cross-examination of vocational experts and possibly medical experts summoned to court by the judge. 

Does Social Security pay attorney fees?  

No.  Clients pay their lawyers, but only out of the recovery won for the client by the lawyer. No lawyer can charge you anything unless the fee/fee agreement is approved in writing by the Social Security Administration. Most cases are taken on a contingent fee basis, meaning the fee is owed only if the case is won.  And if you win, Social Security will not approve fees for anything more than 25% of the back benefits you are awarded, and never against your monthly benefits going forward.   

How long does it take for a lawyer to get you a disability?  

It’s not the lawyer that controls the speed with which your application is decided – it’s the Social Security Administration itself.  The speed with which applications are processed, or hearings are scheduled varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  A lawyer familiar with the process can help you avoid the pratfalls that delay your case, but the lawyer cannot speed the case up.   There are often wait times, but if you win, the months of waiting can be part of the retroactive benefits awarded. 

How much am I allowed to make on social security disability?  

In 2023, the maximum you can earn and still collect SSDB is $1,470 monthly earnings for non-blind recipients.  You may be disqualified if you work more than 45 hours a month. Your ability to work, even part-time, however, will be considered in deciding your functional capacity to qualify for benefits in the first place. 

How much can an attorney charge for social security disability?  

Social Security must approve all attorney fees.  SSA will not approve a fee more significant than 25% of any back benefits you are awarded.  If successful before or as a result of an initial administrative judge decision, the 25% fee will never be higher than $7200 (as of now), no matter how much the retroactive money is recovered. 

Is it better to get a lawyer for disability?  

The best time to consult a Social Security disability lawyer is before you apply.  The two most common reasons applicants lose their case are:  1.  They file before all their ducks are in a row, and 2.  They make mistakes filling out the initial paperwork, which potential claimants do not fully understand.  If you don’t have proper medical support for your case, including supportive diagnostic test results, chances are you will be turned down.  Find out what you will need to prove your case before you apply.  Once you apply, Social Security does not wait around for you to find specialists to support your case.  They make decisions based on the records they collect from the doctors and others you have already seen.    Depending on the circumstances, an adverse decision may forever preclude you from getting disability benefits (as contrasted with SSI) benefits, so you want to be very careful. 


What can you own on social security disability?  

Social Security Disability Benefits [SSDB] are based on your prior earnings.  It is a form of disability insurance.  What you own or what you have in the bank makes no difference.  This differs from SSI {Supplemental Security Income], which requires a finding of disability AND lack of financial resources.  It is a form of federal welfare for disabled people. Generally, you will not be eligible for SSI if you have more than $2000 in assets (with specific exclusions).