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Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability Benefits

Q. Where do I file my claim for Social Security Disability benefits?

A. You can file a claim in person at your local Social Security office, or by calling toll-free at 1-800-772-1213, or on the Internet at Once you have filed an application, the Social Security Administration will turn your claim over to your state’s “Division of Disability Determination Services” (DDS), which will consider and determine your claim.

Q. Are Social Security Disability benefits difficult to obtain?

A. Yes. The government has very strict guidelines on what it considers to be a “disability.” Your injuries and impairments must be very serious, and detailed medical records are needed to support your claim. Many folks think that if they are knocked out of doing their old job, that they will automatically be considered disabled: This is NOT true. It’s a LOT tougher than that!

Q. What does the government require in order for me to be considered disabled?

A. You must have a physical or mental impairment that lasts at least 12 months (or is expected to last 12 months) and prevents you from doing any full-time work.

Q. How important are medical records in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits?

A. Medical records are extremely important in proving your disability. In fact, the foundation of a successful Social Security Disability claim is solid supporting medical evidence. The description you provide of your disabling illness or condition is important. But without supporting medical evidence from doctors, “your word” is not legally sufficient to prove you are disabled. You have to have medical records to support your claim. The government looks at it like this: If your condition is serious enough to keep you out of work, it is serious enough to seek medical treatment. And so if you have not gotten medical treatment for your injuries, you will not be awarded Social Security Disability. Your health and your future should be your top priority.

Q. Do I need to wait 12 months before filing a claim for Social Security Disability benefits?

A. No. Once you have determined that you may be unable to work for a period of 12 months or more (through consultation with your doctors), you should file for benefits immediately. You could risk losing benefits to which you are legally entitled by waiting longer than necessary to apply. If you are eligible to receive Disability Insurance Benefits, you can recover retroactive benefits (back-due benefits) only for the 12-month period prior to submitting your application for benefits. If you wait more than a year from the date you stop working to apply for benefits, you risk losing more benefits with each passing month!

Q. I was injured at my job and am temporarily unable to return to work. Am I entitled to Social Security Disability benefits?

A. No. Temporary disabling injuries related to work are covered by workers’ compensation benefits.

Q. My application for Social Security Disability benefits has been denied. Do I have the right to appeal?

A. Yes. If your initial application is denied, you may file an appeal with the Social Security Administration. This appeal is known as a Request for Reconsideration. If your claim is denied at the reconsideration stage, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge, who will conduct an evidentiary hearing. Even if your claim is denied by the administrative law judge, your case is not over. You can appeal your case to the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council.  If the Appeals Council denies your case, you then have the option of suing the Social Security Administration in federal court for a reversal of the denial or a new hearing. So there are a number of actions you can try, even if you have been denied in the beginning.

Q. What are the deadlines for filing an appeal?

A. Typically, you must file the Request for Reconsideration within 60 days from the date of the letter from the government denying your claim.

Q. What happens if I don’t file an appeal on time?

A. You have to start your application process all over again.  You may also permanently lose the right to much-needed back-due benefits.

Q. Should I file for unemployment benefits while waiting for the government to determine my Social Security Disability benefits?

A. No. When you file for unemployment benefits, you generally have to state that you are physically and mentally capable of working, which goes against  what you are telling the Social Security Administration. If you have received unemployment benefits at any time during the period for which you are alleging that you are disabled, you may not be awarded benefits.

Other Questions? Contact our Lexington Social Security Disability Lawyers

Have other questions about your disability claim? Contact the Frank Jenkins Law Office today at 859-389-9344 or use our online contact form.

Based in Lexington, our Social Security Disability lawyers are here to help folks anywhere in Eastern Kentucky, and also in surrounding towns such as Berea, Georgetown, Nicholasville, Paris, Richmond, Versailles, and Winchester.