Access Disability Advocates

What services do you provide for your clients?

We will evaluate your case to provide the best strategy for winning, consistent with Social Security's regulations, rulings, and our knowledge of the local Administrative Law Judges. We can guide you through the initial application process and the vast amount of paperwork that the Social Security Administration expects you to fill out. We can gather medical evidence. We can explore obtaining additional medical testing. If needed, we can appeal your case and pursue subpoenas for medical records that certain doctors or medical providers have failed to provide. If a hearing is necessary, we can prepare you to testify and will cross-examine medical and vocational experts at your hearing.

We will stand up for your rights at hearing and make sure that your best argument for disability is stated decisively to the judge. We will prepare a brief for the judge beforehand so that he understands why you are disabled. If the judge requires more evidence or explanation after the hearing, we can submit post hearing briefs, send you for additional testing, or appear at a supplemental hearing.

What is your fee?

First, we don't charge a fee unless we win. Second, if we win, we generally receive 25% of past due benefits or $6,000, whichever is less. This is true for the vast majority of cases and is consistent with the Social Security Act which largely determines fees in these cases. The SSA sends a check directly to us if we win so you never have to make payment arrangements. All benefits you receive in the future are yours alone.

What does the Social Security Administration mean by disabled?

By law, Social Security has a very strict definition. To be found disabled:

While some programs give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability, Social Security does not.

What is substantial work?

In evaluating whether you are disabled, the Social Security Administration will first look to whether you are currently working. If you are working part-time and not earning much money, you won't necessarily be denied disability benefits, but doing a substantial amount of work (such as working full-time) guarantees that you will be denied benefits.

As part of its definition of disability, the SSA requires that a disability claimant be unable to perform what it calls substantial gainful activity (SGA).

Although, there are exceptions, substantial gainful activity is generally work that brings in over a certain dollar amount per month. In 2015, that amount is $1,090 for non-blind disabled applicants, and $1,820 for blind applicants. If you are making more than that amount per month, the SSA assumes that you are not disabled (in their words, that you "are able to engage in competitive employment in the national economy").

What medical conditions or impairments do I have to be affected by in order to get disability?

While almost any medical condition or combination of medical conditions could be the basis for a finding of disability the only test is whether that medical condition precludes you from being able to work a full time job. This will be determined from a combination of factors including your medical record, residual functional capacity evaluations, information provided by you to the SSA including a self-report on the questionnaire Function Report- SSA 3373, your testimony, and information provided by vocational and medical experts during your hearing.

How long does it take for the Social Security Administration to find me eligible for benefits?

It can take anywhere from several months to several years. In New York State, if you are approved at the initial level it takes approximately four to six months on average. Fortunately, although the wait can be substantial, if you win it is possible in many cases to receive a large check for past due benefits. Because it can take so long and you may only have one shot at this, it is vital you have an experienced representative supporting you through every step of the process.

How much money can I get if I win Social Security Disability benefits?

It depends on your earnings history. If you look at your most recent earnings statement from the SSA it will give you an approximate idea of your monthly benefit amount if you were found disabled today. However, it is important to remember there is a 5 month waiting period for disability benefits and that the SSA will not pay you for the first 5 months you were disabled. They claim it is to prevent payments for temporary disability, but the reality is that this rule exists to save the government money.

Can I get partial disability or short-term disability from Social Security?

No. You are either considered disabled under the Social Security Act or you are not. There is no such thing as short-term or partial disability under Social Security law.

Other jobs that I can do will not pay as much as previous work, does that mean I am disabled?

No. The SSA does not care that you would make less money at a different job. If you are medically able to work any job on a full time basis, then you will not be found to be disabled.

What if my doctor says I am disabled?

Unfortunately, this is not sufficient by itself. While it helps that your doctor agrees that you cannot work this needs to be supported by the SSA's evaluation of the case and how it applies to their rules and regulations. However, if your doctor is willing to complete a Medical Source Statement which is favorable and supported by the mediccal evidence this can help your case considerably.

How can I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

You can call SSA's 800 number at 1-800-772-1213 and schedule an appointment to file applications for benefits. Although you can apply over the internet for some benefits and can sometimes make phone appointments, we generally recommend that you work with us directly so that we can make sure your initial application is as strong as possible.

You can call our office at (518) 377-4204 and we can help you through the process.

Do I have to wait a year or can I apply now?

As long as you are out of work and expect to be so for at least the next 12 months, you can and should apply now. Because it can take a long time to go through the Social Security disability adjudication process it's important to get started right away.

I applied and got denied, is that the end of the story?

No way! Call (518) 377-4204 or contact us now for a FREE evaluation.

The SSA has sent me a lot of confusing forms can you help?

Of course! We are proud to provide complete end to end service that helps our clients at every stage of the process from application through completion of the claim.

Can a child receive benefits?

Yes, a child can receive either SSI or disability benefits. However, there is a poverty standard for SSI and the SSA will need to know about the assets and income of any parents or guardians. For disability, their benefit would be based on their parents' earnings records. Because, child's cases have special rules and a complex evaluation process it is important you consult a representative for such cases. While many firms will not take child benefit cases, we are proud to say we do.

I am a military veteran who collects VA disability benefits. Can I also collect Social Security disability?

Absolutely. In fact, we have helped a lot of veterans get approved for Social Security disability. In some cases the SSA can even expedite the process for veterans. Starting March 17, 2014, veterans who have a VA compensation rating of 100% permanent and total (P&T) may receive expedited processing of applications for Social Security disability benefits.

While a VA compensation rating of 100% P&T does not guarantee that you will receive Social Security disability benefits, we have a lot of experience with working with the VA to ensure the Social Security Administration has your complete medical record which can make all the difference.