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West Palm Beach Social Security Attorney

If you are unable to work due to disabilities and/or injuries, physical or mental, you may be entitled to Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration pays cash benefits to people who are unable to work for a year of more, and even to people who have never worked in their life.

The single most important aspect in successfully prosecuting a Social Security claim is presenting competent substantial medical evidence to a Federal Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in court. It is imperative to secure medical treatment for the conditions that prevent you from working in order to prove your eligibility for benefits. But even if you have stacks of medical records, you are not guaranteed to receive these benefits. Contact our experienced West Palm Beach social security attorneys today for more information.

An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determines whether you are disabled. The ALJ will not only review your medical records, but also consider your age, education, work experience, transferable skills, compliance with medical treatment, and the extent of the medical treatment. There is a five-question, step-by-step process that determines if you are disabled or not:

  • Are you working?
  • Is your condition severe?
  • Is you condition present in the list of disabling impairments?
  • Can you do the work you did previously?
  • Can you do any other type of work?

There are two types of programs that provide disability benefits. The first is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), in which benefits are calculated based on prior earnings. The second is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which bases benefits on financial need – you can be eligible even if you have never worked or paid taxes under FICA.

West Palm Beach Social Security Disability FAQs

Navigating the Social Security system to obtain benefits may seem daunting, and it is, in fact, a challenging process. However, knowing more about the system and how it works can help relieve any anxiety and also empower you to take charge and secure those benefits you deserve. Below are answers to questions frequently heard by the attorneys at Celeste Law Firm as they help people like you in and around West Palm Beach and other parts of South Florida secure Social Security Disability benefits. For a free consultation regarding your application, or for help appealing a denial of your claim, call our West Palm Beach Social Security Disability insurance attorneys at Celeste Law Firm at 561-478-2447, or contact us online.

Q. How much will I get for Social Security Disability?

A. Your benefit amount depends upon a number of factors, including your age, your work history over your lifetime as well as your recent work history, the number of work credits you have accumulated, and whether you have worked in five of the last ten years. SSDI benefits are based on lifetime average taxable earnings, and are unique to every individual. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses an extremely complex formula to calculate every individual’s SSDI benefits, the maximum payment of which as of 2016 is $2,639 per month.

Q. When can I start receiving SSDI benefits?

A. Benefits do not begin until five full months after the “onset date” of the disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) or ALJ determines this date, either by using the “alleged onset date” you included in your application, or according to some later date as is supported by the medical evidence.

Q. Is it possible to get back due benefits?

A. Yes. After receiving a Favorable Decision in your case, it is possible to get back benefits. The maximum back benefits one can receive is one year before the date of your application as long as your “onset date” is one year and five months prior to your date of application, the five months being a “waiting” period.

Q. Can I get benefits for a partial disability?

A. No. Disability means that you are unable to work or perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a physical and/or mental condition. In other words, you must be totally disabled to qualify for SSDI. However, there are rare exceptions in which you may be found totally disabled even if you work part time if the ALJ believes that part time is the most you will ever be able to perform. The SSA adheres to a very strict definition of disability, so it is important to work with the attorneys at Celeste Law Firm first to properly
prepare your application and then to completely prepare for presentation of evidence in Court.

Q. If I try to go back to work but have to stop, have I lost my SSDI benefits for good?

A. Not necessarily. It is possible to have tried to work but could not persevere due to pain/disability. If you are receiving disability payments and you are able to work full time, your benefits will be cut off; but if you try and fail to return to work full time, yu may still recover benefits even though you worked for a few weeks.

Q. Do I get Medicare along with SSDI benefits?

A. Yes. Your medical care will be covered under Medicare commencing two years and 5 months after your date of onset of disability as determined by the ALJ, even if you are younger than 65 years old. Enrollment in Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) is free, but you will need to pay a monthly premium if you also want Medicare Part B (medical insurance).

Q. Are SSDI benefits available to the widow or widower of a worker who passed away?

A. Depending upon your spouse’s earning record, you may be entitled to Survivor’s Benefits. Also, if you are age 50 or older and become disabled within seven years of the death of your spouse, you can receive SSDI if your spouse was eligible for Social Security. This is true even if you alone, irrespective of your spouse, wouldn’t qualify for SSDI.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Navigating the Social Security system to obtain benefits may seem daunting, and it is, in fact, a challenging process. However, knowing more about the system and how it works can help relieve any anxiety and also empower you to take charge and secure those benefits you deserve. Below are answers to questions frequently heard by the attorneys at Celeste Law Firm as they help people like you in and around West Palm Beach and other parts of South Florida secure Supplemental Security Income benefits. For a free consultation regarding your application, or for help appealing a denial of your claim, call Celeste Law Firm at 561-478-2447, or contact us online.

Q. How much will I get for Supplemental Security Income?

A. The important difference between SSDI and SSI is that SSI does not require that you have worked at all in order to receive SSI benefits. As long as you pass the income/asset threshold and are disabled, you are entitled to SSI benefits. Your benefit amount depends upon a number of factors, including your marital status, whether you have any income or assets, and your living arrangement. Everyone applying for SSI is eligible for the same base amount of $733, but your actual SSI payments will depend on the aforementioned factors and the monetary values the SSA places on those factors, which are then deducted from the base amount to determine you payment.

Q. What happens if the SSA’s deductions to my benefits bring my payments down to $0?

A. The unfortunate answer to this question is that you will not receive any benefits that SSI has to offer, including Medicaid. If your SSI payments equal $0, it’s as if you were never entitled to SSI in the first place. However, circumstances can change and you could eventually be entitled to SSI payments and Medicaid, so it is vital that you keep the SSA apprised of your current financial situation. The attorneys at Celeste Law Firm are well-versed in handling these unique circumstances, and can help reduce the amount of deductions the SSA makes to your SSI payments to again entitle you to SSI benefits. One such example is placing certain assets in a Trust so that the SSA does not count them as assets sufficient to reduce your SSI payments.

Q. When can I start receiving SSI benefits?

A. Benefits are payable only from the date you file your application. Even if you are found disabled several years prior to your date of application, your SSI payments only start the first of the month immediately after the date you filed your application.

Q. Is it possible to get back due benefits?

A. Yes. After receiving a Favorable Decision in your case, it is possible to get back benefits. The maximum back benefits one can receive is from the date of the Favorable Decision back to your date of application.

Q. Can I get benefits for a partial disability?

A. No. Disability means that you are unable to work or perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a physical and/or mental condition. In other words, you must be totally disabled to qualify for SSI. Furthermore, even if the ALJ finds you totally disabled, you may never receive any SSI benefits depending on the amount of deductions SSA applies to your possible payments. The SSA adheres to a very strict definition of disability, so it is important to work with the attorneys at Celeste Law Firm first to properly prepare your application and then to completely prepare for presentation of evidence in Court.

Q. If I try to go back to work but have to stop, have I lost my SSI benefits for good?

A. Not necessarily. It is possible to have tried to work but could not persevere due to pain/disability. If you are receiving SSI payments and you are able to work full time, your benefits will be cut off; but if you try to work and fail, you may still recover benefits. Again, the SSA will make deductions based on your assets and income to calculate your monthly payment.

Q. Do I get Medicaid along with SSI benefits?

A. Yes. If you qualify for SSI, you get Medicaid immediately. Medicaid is a partially state-and-federally funded program that provides health insurance. In Florida, only disabled adults or able-bodied adults who live with a minor child who gets Medicaid (the child is entitled based on family income and doesn’t need to be disabled) qualify for this type of health insurance. While Medicaid is less generous in terms of available treatment than Medicare, Medicaid does pay for psychiatric care and pain management, which most free-to-low-cost insurances, like the Health Care District for Palm Beach County residents, does not provide. For a free consultation regarding your application, or for help appealing a denial of your claim, call our West Palm Beach Social Security Disability insurance attorneys at Celeste Law Firm at 561-478-2447, or contact us online.

Call us if you or someone you know is unable to work to due to injury or disability.

You must file your Social Security claim in a timely manner. Celeste Law Firm, our West Palm Beach Social Security attorneys are experienced in knowing the specific time frames within which certain important documents must be filed. Certainly you may file for Social Security benefits yourself; however, statistics show that claimants who have legal representation win their benefits much more often than those who apply on their own. If you are unable to work, contact Celeste Law Firm, now!

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