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About Disability Claims and What We Do
Helping people obtain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is not just one small part of what we do.
It's all we do.
Our firm offers decades of experience in these matters and is committed to helping people and families throughout California's Central Valley obtain the disability benefits they deserve. For attorneys who will work hard to change your life for the better - call or contact us today.
Use the links provided below to learn more about our practice or for more detailed answers to these frequently asked questions:
Does my disability qualify? If you have an illness, disease or physical or mental impairment that could conceivably prevent you from working for at least 12 months - it is better to apply sooner rather than later.
How are SSD and SSI different from one another? To be eligible for Social Security Disability, you need to meet an insurance test which requires that you pay a certain amount in Social Security taxes while working. You have to have paid taxes 10 total years, and you must have become disabled within 5 years of the date you stop paying these taxes (essentially). These rules can get very complex. The rules are less stringent if you are younger.
SSI, by contrast, only requires that you need income assistance and do not have excessive income or resources in your immediate family.
Therefore, you can file either or both applications, depending on your set of factors related to the above requirements.
Do I have to have a lawyer? No, you don't have to have a lawyer; however, there are several good reasons why you should. Social Security might tell you that you do not need an attorney, in so many words, and definitely not during the first two steps. But their representatives have sent us clients earlier than that when they have family or friends in need. So, the real answer from our perspective is that you need a good attorney as soon as you decide to start a claim with Social Security, even though it is not required. A good attorney will make sure your forms are done correctly, prepare you immediately in the ways in which to win the case as early as possible, and then make sure if you win that you get all the benefits you should receive.
What steps are involved in the process? Filing a claim is usually just the first step in a longer process. In fact, only about 34 percent of people who apply are denied benefits at the initial claim stage. Milam Law increases the chances of your winning at the first and all steps of your claim dramatically. You should begin early to develop your evidence correctly early, even if you get denied at the first step, so you can get all back benefits later if you win. There are as many as seven steps in the process.
What's the best strategy for winning? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. There are no guaranteed results either. That said - there are ways to improve your chances of winning. That "game plan" for winning is a foundational goal and norm for this office's practice model.
What's the best way to deal with the SSA itself? Anything you say to the Social Security Administration can be used against you. In general, be very careful about communicating with the SSA. Better still, hire an attorney to talk for you. Social Security is NOT your advocate. The employees there are paid by the government. Many are helpful, but they are not working for you.
What happens at the ALJ hearing? Although the hearing is fairly informal, it is an important part of the process and our attorneys will make certain you're fully prepared walking in. Our office gives you written questions and comments to help you prepare long before the hearing; this is quite different than the reports we often hear about law offices. We also conference with you ahead of the hearing. Don't be one of those people who have been denied by a judge who later come to me saying, "my attorney never spoke with me until he showed up 5 minutes before hearing." Contact us now.
Can immigrants obtain disability benefits? Yes. However, immigrants do face special challenges in trying to obtain those benefits - challenges that our lawyers can help you overcome. We have an attorney, Sengthiene Bosavanh, who immigrated after the Laos war as a young child, grew up in a new and strange American world, worked her way through a system that gave her and her family very little, became an attorney, and understands your situation even more so as a result. Mr. Milam has done considerable work with various people groups who have immigrated into this country over the years, professionally and personally.
How much will it cost to have an attorney handle my disability claim? First, it won't cost you anything at all unless we are successful on your behalf. Second, attorneys' fees for disability claims are limited by statute and must be approved by the appropriate authority in advance. The fees for attorneys are the same: 25 percent of past due benefits. What is important for you? You need to hire an attorney who has experience and has an active involvement in your claim. Why would you pay someone who is not local to you or one who has little experience or involvement in preparing you for the process of winning? Get the most out of your fees: contact us.