How much does it cost to hire an attorney for my SSD / SSI claim?

Nothing. Most law firms do all SSD/SSI cases on a contingency basis. Lawyers take a percentage or pre-determined amount (determined under federal statutes) of the backpay you are awarded. If you are not granted SSD/SSI benefits, then the attorney typically does not collect anything.

Is there a difference between SSD and SSI benefits?

Yes. SSI is usually reserved for individuals with very low incomes, and/or those that have not worked long enough in order to earn SSD benefits.

How do I prove SSD or SSI eligibility if I do not have the money to visit a doctor?

This is one of the toughest issues for SSD/SSI applicants. On the one hand they are not working because they are disabled, and therefore, they do not have health insurance that allows them to visit a doctor. On the other hand, it is harder to prove disability without documentation from treating physicians. State governmental insurance programs may be able to assist disability applicants in this regard. Those that believe that they are eligible for benefits need to see a doctor as much as possible in order to build the strongest case. However, if you previously worked and had health insurance which allowed you to visit a doctor, attorneys can use those records to prove your case.

How long does it take to start receiving my benefits?

The Social Security offices are very overworked and any given case can take 1-2 years or more. However, if you never start the process, you will never receive benefits. it is better to get benefits down the road than not at all.

Do I have to be completely disabled in order to receive SSD benefits?

YES and NO. No, you do not have to be completely disabled in the ordinary sense of that phrase. That is, you do not have to be bed-ridden or require round-the-clock assistance. However, you must be completely disabled as that term is used in federal statutes. The definition in the federal statutes is more expansive, such that people with disabilities who can perform normal daily activities can still be eligible for benefits.