Ask a Lawyer
Dec 09, 2013 | 739 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This week Pat Nelson answers frequently asked questions about Social Security Disability.

I have several health problems, but no one particular illness disables me. It is the combination that keeps me from working. Can I get Social Security disability benefits in this situation? Euleen A., Jasper

Euleen, that is a great question. Social Security is supposed to consider the combination of impairments that a person suffers from in determining disability. Most claimants have more than one health problem and the combined effects of all of the health problems must be considered. That is why our law firm always takes a deposition of our client’s personal treating physician for submission in a SSD case. Your family doctor is in the best position to testify about how all of your medical conditions interact to cause a vocational disability. Additionally, most patients with chronic pain also suffer from some degree of situational depression.

I used to work but for the last few years, I have stayed home taking care of the kids. My illness has now worsened. Can I get Social Security disability benefits? Rachelle R., Arley, AL

Possibly. If you have worked 5 out of the last 10 years and have paid Social Security taxes before becoming disabled, you should have enough earnings to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. (For individuals age 31 or less, the requirements are a little different.) Unless a person has been staying home and taking care of their children for quite a long time, however, it is possible that they will qualify for Social Security disability benefits based upon their own earnings. Also a homemaker who has paid little or no Social Security taxes, if poor enough, can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) regardless.

How can I tell if I will be found disabled by Social Security? Billy M., Forestdale

Unless your disability is catastrophic (such as terminal cancer, a heart condition so bad that you are on a heart transplant list, total paralysis, etc.), there is no easy way to tell whether you will be found disabled. Attorneys familiar with Social Security disability can make predictions about who will win and who will lose, but even they cannot always be sure. An individual should make the decision about whether or not to file for disability based upon their own honest belief about their condition. If the individual feels that he or she is not going to be able to return to work in the near future, the individual should file for Social Security disability. If denied, the individual should immediately consult with an attorney familiar with Social Security disability to get an opinion about the chances of success on appeal.

Do you have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security disability benefits? Mike L., Dora, Al.

No. You only have to have been disabled for at least a year or be expected to be disabled for at least a year or have a condition that can be expected to result in death within a year.

How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

The best, surest way to file a Social Security disability claim is to go to the nearest Social Security office in person and wait to see someone to file the claim in person. In the alternative, a person may contact Social Security by telephone, on the Internet or arrange for a telephone interview to file the claim. Most claimants are turned down on their initial application. If turned down, you only have a short time to request a formal hearing. Please see an attorney immediately.

At Nelson, Bryan and Jones, we have represented over 4000 clients at Social Security hearings. Please give us a call if you would like to talk further about Social Security or other legal issues.

Please send the questions to: Ask A Lawyer P. O. Box 2309, Jasper, Alabama 35502

205-387-7777 or email to:

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No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.