You May Have Some Questions

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What is the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB) is for people who suffer with a disability and can no longer work. You may qualify for this program if you have worked a long time and paid sufficient FICA taxes. But, you may still be denied these benefits by the government.
If you have not paid enough money into the Social Security system to qualify for benefits, then you may still be able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The government will look at your income status and review what resources are available to you. This is used in determining your qualification.

How much does it cost to hire an attorney for my disability case? What if I can't afford it?

Federal law regulates attorneys’ fees in Social Security disability cases. So, virtually every disability lawyer works on the same fee basis. The lawyer’s fee is 25% of the past due disability benefits you get, up to the statutory maximum. There is no fee if you lose and no money is due up front.

Who is eligible for disability benefits from Social Security?

Sometimes, disability results from a combination of health problems. Just because you can still do some things well doesn’t mean you’re not disabled. Depending on your age, work experience and other factors, you could be entitled to disability benefits.

Who decides if I am disabled and eligible for benefits?

My doctor says I am disabled or put me on “light duty,” so why is Social Security denying my disability claim? It is not up to your doctor to determine whether you are disabled. It is up to Social Security to make their own decision regardless of what your doctor thinks. It is important to contact a lawyer today to ensure the proper medical evidence is gathered to prove your disability.

I know people who receive Social Security Disability and are not even disabled. Why was I denied?

Most people who apply for Social Security disability benefits are, in fact, denied. You can be denied for any number of reasons, often through no fault of your own. For example, you may be denied benefits if your doctor doesn’t know what’s important to your particular claim.

It is important to contact a lawyer today. Once you are denied, the clock starts ticking on the time you have to appeal. Contact Russ Swanigan today!

Social Security said that I would be able to return to work. Should I wait to see if my health improves or should I appeal?

Don’t wait to see if your health improves. You have a limited time to appeal from your initial denial. Let Russ Swanigan’s experience be the difference in your case.

Why do I need a lawyer to help me, and why should I hire Russ Swanigan?

Social Security statistics show that claimants who are represented by lawyers win more often than those who are not represented. Your best chance of winning your case against the government is to be represented by a lawyer. So call us today!

There are many written and unwritten rules – Russ Swanigan deals with them and the people who apply them every day. An attorney has a law degree with training for complex legal matters. An attorney is trained in preparing and presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses and writing about your case. A non-attorney advocate does not have a law degree and is not trained for complex legal matters. Russ is a former attorney for the SSA, so he knows what it takes to win cases.

What can't a lawyer do for me?

No lawyer can push around the federal government or change the law to your benefit. An experienced lawyer can make the Social Security system work for you and can make the difference between winning and losing your case.

How will I be notified of the date of my hearing?

You should hear from us first. The judge’s assistant will telephone our office before scheduling your hearing to make sure there are no conflicts on Russ Swanigan’s calendar. As soon as we hear from the judge’s assistant, Russ Swanigan will call you. After you hear from him, you’ll get a Notice of Hearing from the judge confirming in writing the date, time and location of the scheduled hearing.

Should I send my attorney the “acknowledgement” that comes with the Notice of Hearing?

No. There will be a paper sent to you with your Notice of Hearing that you must mark to indicate that you’ll be coming to the hearing. This paper is called an Acknowledgment of Notice of Hearing. You may send the “acknowledgment” directly back to the judge. Our office doesn’t have to see it. But don’t send anything else to the Social Security Administration without Russ Swanigan seeing it first.

What happens if I get a Notice of Hearing before I am notified by my attorney of the date?

It may be that someone failed to call our office about your hearing. So, if you get a Notice of Hearing before you are notified by us of your hearing, call Russ Swanigan immediately.

Do I need to get medical records or reports for my attorney?

No. You don’t have to get any medical records or reports yourself. In fact, it’s better if you do not even try to get such things unless we ask you to.

But what if my doctor gives me a report?

If you happen to get something such as a disability form completed by your doctor for an insurance company, etc., be sure to send our office a copy.

Should I send anything to the judge?

No. As a rule, do not send anything to the judge without me reviewing it and making a copy for my file.

What if the Judge sends me a form to be completed by my doctor?

Sometimes a claimant may be sent a form to be completed by a doctor concerning how much work the claimant can do. If the judge sends you a form to be completed by your doctor, telephone me so that we can discuss how to deal with this. I may want you to send the form to me; but call me first so we can discuss it.

Will I have to fill out any forms before my hearing?

Yes. Usually the judge will send you some forms to complete about recent medical treatment, what medications you’re taking, etc. Complete these forms as soon as possible after you get them and send them to me. I’ll forward them to the judge after I review them.

Under what circumstances do I need to call my attorney?

It is not necessary to telephone us about routine medical care. But keep track of the dates of all medical treatment between now and the time we go to your hearing. Russ Swanigan will probably send you a form to complete to tell him about all of the medical care you’ve received in recent months.
There probably will be little need for you to telephone our office to discuss your case prior to the time we notify you of when your hearing will be held. However, if one of the following things happens, please telephone us:

  • There is a dramatic change in your condition – for the worse or the better
  • Your doctor gives you a new diagnosis of your medical condition
  • You are hospitalized
  • You go back to work
  • You change your address and or telephone number
  • Someone from SSA contacts you
  • You get a letter from SSA that you don’t understand
  • You get a Notice of Hearing without first hearing from our office telling you the date of your hearing
  • You get a form from the judge to be completed by your doctor

If at any time you have a question about your case, please telephone our office. We will be glad to answer any questions you have.

If I win my case, how much money will I receive?

If you are found eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB), the amount you will receive each month is calculated based on your lifetime earnings, which differ for every individual. Please refer to your latest bi-annual statement from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to see how much (if any) SSDIB you may receive. Also, if you have unmarried children under age 18 (or under age 19 if still in high school) that live in your home, you may receive additional money to help care for them.

If you are awarded Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will receive a monthly payment of up to $674.00 per month for an individual or $1,011.00 per month for an eligible couple. This amount may be reduced, however, if you and your spouse have too much income or resources.

Will I receive medical insurance?

If you are awarded Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB), you will be eligible for Medicare coverage after a waiting period of 24 months. If you are awarded Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will be entitled to Medicaid coverage as soon as your entitlement to SSI begins.

How long will it take for benefits to be paid?

It varies a lot. After the hearing, it often takes two to three months, as a general rule, for a decision to be issued. After that, if we win, it takes a month or two for current benefits to start being paid. From the date of the decision it can take from one to 6 months for all back benefits to be paid. Thus, all this takes a long time, much longer than it should. I’ve discovered that there are few opportunities for a representative to speed things up. The important thing is to not slow it down.