There is more to Social Security claims than you might think. Join Everyday Law and special guest, Attorney Perry Smith, as we talk about who can receive Social Security disability benefits, and how to go about getting them.
Perry Smith is a Lake County attorney and partner with Wysocki & Smith. Smith’s employment career was somewhat circuitous before becoming an attorney. After college, Smith worked as a high school biology teacher for a year. After working as a teacher, Smith worked as a hospital ultrasound technician. Although he enjoyed his work as an ultrasound technician, Smith wanted more challenging work and decided upon law school. Smith continued working in his field while attending law school at night.
Upon graduation, Smith obtained a job with the Lake County State’s Attorney. Smith worked for 5 years at the State’s Attorney’s office, gaining a great deal of trial experience. In 1990, Smith joined Bernard Wysocki’s Waukegan law firm and has been a partner there for the last 20 years. One area of the law that Smith specializes is Social Security disability claims.
Social Security disability claims can arise in a number of ways including injury, illness, psychological issues and developmental disabilities. There are 2 Social Security programs for disability for individuals 18 or older. These are SSI (supplemental security income) and DIB (disability insurance benefits, sometimes referred to as SSDI). The difference between the 2 programs is that SSI is a welfare program and is applicable to individuals with assets of $2,000.00 or less. DIB is a program for individuals with assets over $2,000.00. For both programs, however, the medical parameters are the same.
To obtain benefits for both of these programs, an initial application must be filed. A claimant can file this application online (www.ssa.gov) or a claimant can visit the local Social Security office in Waukegan where a representative can assist a claimant. Smith recommends that a claimant file the initial application themselves, rather than hire an attorney at this stage as it saves money, and the claimant knows their own situation and medical history best. Smith also recommends that a claimant make a list of all medical providers, dates of service and contact information as well as any employment information in preparation of filling out the application. A decision can take 3 to 4 months.
It should be noted that an overwhelming percentage of initial applications are denied (85%). The reasons for denials may involve incomplete medical records. At the point of a first appeal, it may be worthwhile to hire an attorney, though Smith states that a claimant can handle the work for a first appeal themselves. However, if an application is denied after the first appeal, it is best to obtain an attorney for the second appeal as that appeal is a hearing before an administrative law judge. Additionally, medical and vocational experts may be involved in those hearings. Appeals of the decisions of the administrative law judge may be filed with the Appeals Counsel in Falls Church, Virginia but outright reversals are extremely rare. Smith finds his social security disability practice to be very rewarding and finds great satisfaction in helping those clients.
In addition to his law practice, Smith has been very involved with the Lake County Bar Association. He has served as chairman of a number of Bar committees, including the Legal Aid Committee, now known as the Community Outreach Committee. That committee helps Prairie State Legal Services provide pro bono attorneys for indigent persons with civil matters. Smith has also served as the president of the Lake County Bar Association president during its move from County Street to its present home on Grand Avenue.
Robert Monahan, Esq. is a lawyer in Gurnee, IL with his own practice in personal injury. He has a radio show on Thursday nights at 7 pm, called “Everyday Law,” on WRLR 98.3 FM, where he tries to demystify the law for the ordinary person. “Everyday Law” can be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes or other various podcatchers. His two websites are www.monahanfirm.com and www.gurneepersonalinjuryattorney.com. He also has two Facebook pages – “Robert A. Monahan, Esq.” and “Everyday Law.”