FAQs

COLUMBIA DISABILITY QUESTIONS

Answers to your Columbia disability questions
1.

My doctor says I am disabled, so why is Social Security denying my disability claim?

For the purposes of awarding benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has its own definition of “disability,” which could differ from your doctor’s.

Social Security’s definition is strict compared to many medical professionals and other people.

It’s also possible your doctor hasn’t described your condition correctly to Social Security, and you in fact do qualify under the SSA’s rules.

Doctors sometimes rush their reports, don’t know all the factors relevant to the SSA or don’t explain your case in a way the claims examiner recognizes as a disability.

Also, you could’ve left out some important information that would help you. For example, it’s important not to downplay the physical and mental demands of your previous job, leading the SSA to conclude your work wasn’t as demanding as it was.

Social Security Disability Insurance covers you if you have a substantial recent work history and you paid into the Social Security system through deductions from your paychecks.

For Supplemental Security Income, you don’t need any recent work history or a record of paying into Social Security. SSI is for people with limited income and resources who cannot work because of health problems. It also provides benefits to children with disabilities.

3.

How long does it take to obtain my disability benefits once a claim for benefits is filed?

A decision on your initial application can take an average of two to six months.

If you’re denied and you make an appeal, it can take many months to get a hearing with an administrative law judge.

The wait time varies depending on how many cases the hearing office has to process.

In general, it can be very difficult to predict exactly how long it will take to hear a decision on your case.

Because of the time it takes, it’s best to apply as soon as you realize health problems are going to keep you from work for at least a year.

Additionally, if you wait too long, you can miss out on thousands of dollars in benefits for past months.

4.

Is there a way to get my Social Security Benefits faster?

You can’t control how fast the Social Security process moves, but there are ways to advance your case as fast as possible within the system.

If you’re denied, you should file your appeal as soon as you can. You have 60 days from when you received your denial letter, but appealing sooner reduces your wait.

Another way to move faster is to reduce unnecessary delays. You can do that by making sure to file a complete and accurate application and all the right supporting documentation. Getting something wrong can result in a denial and greatly increase your wait as you appeal.

There are also some rare and special circumstances that expedite a case.

An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can ensure everything is in proper shape for your application or appeal.

5.

Why do I need a lawyer to help me? Why should I hire the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill?

Statistics from Social Security show that you have a better chance of winning benefits with help from a lawyer or professional representative.

Applying for disability is complicated, and a lawyer can ensure you make the strongest case.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill make a point of working personally on your case and getting to know you as an individual.

We’re dedicated to helping our neighbors from communities in Columbia and mid-Missouri. We are familiar with local services available to you in mid-Missouri and have experience with the local administrations. At larger or national law firms, you may not even meet a lawyer in person before your hearing with a judge.

6.

How can I find out if my medical condition qualifies for disability benefits?

The key factor in qualifying for disability benefits is the severity of your health problems. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses information from your health care providers to determine if your condition meets their definition of severe.

Whatever illnesses or injuries you have, they must be expected to last at least a year and they must prevent you from being able to work. The SSA will also consider whether you could adjust to a new type of work.

Every case is different. If you aren’t sure if your medical condition qualifies, then contact the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill for a free evaluation.

7.

If I win my case, how much money will I receive?

Until you win a favorable decision, it’s impossible to know exactly how much money you will receive.

For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the amount varies depending on how much you have worked and earned in the past.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits program has a base amount that an individual with no other income receives. If you have some income, it reduces the amount of SSI you can receive.

8.

How do I get started applying for disability benefits?

The first step is to file an application for benefits. You have three options for filing an application:

  1. Do it yourself online.
  2. File over the phone with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
  3. File with representative assistance in person or over the phone.

You can apply on your own without the help of a lawyer, but hiring a lawyer reduces the burden of having to complete a complex application and improves your chances of winning benefits.

Having a professional representative also helps you claim the maximum amount of benefits, ensures your paperwork is accurate and spares you from getting frustrated dealing with the SSA.
Making a mistake in your application, or leaving out required documentation could make the difference between getting approved in just a few months or waiting two years.
We have filed thousands of applications and are very familiar with the process.

9.

Are the attorneys at the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill very experienced in Social Security Disability?

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill have more than four decades of combined experience helping Missourians win disability benefits.

Attorney Karen Kraus Bill is a leader in disability law who has spoken at conferences nationwide. Her daughter Stessie Millner has helped train other lawyers in Missouri in Social Security Disability law.

At the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill, we focus exclusively on disability law. This kind of law has its own separate legal system, including judges who only work on disability cases. Because of our focus in this area, we know the system in detail and can navigate it for you.

10.

How much does it cost to hire an attorney for my disability case?

You only pay an attorney fee if you win your disability case.

At the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill, our attorney fee is 25% of the past-due benefits, which Social Security awards you and your family when you win your case.

The Social Security Administration established the 25% fee as a rule for all attorneys who handle disability cases.

11.

How can I improve my chances of winning my Social Security Disability claim?

Hiring an attorney or professional representative improves your chances of winning disability benefits, according to statistics from the Social Security Administration.

12.

Am I eligible for disability benefits from Social Security?

You must meet both medical and non-medical requirements to qualify for disability benefits.

Medically, your health condition must be severe enough to keep you from full-time employment. And it must be expected to last at least a year.

The non-medical rules vary based on the type of claim you have. They include factors such as your work history, income and assets.

Social Security has thousands of rules governing disability benefits. The team at the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill can help you determine if you have a case.

Contact us for a free consultation on your particular situation.

13.

Can I collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits while I work?

If you’re like most people, you would rather work than try to live on disability benefits.

Some people continue to work part time while receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. But you have to stay under a certain amount of work to receive benefits. The exact amount you can earn per month changes over time.

The Social Security Administration has a threshold for “substantial gainful activity,” which you cannot exceed to qualify for benefits.

Social Security also has a trial period where you can test out returning to work while still receiving benefits. Contact the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill for a free consultation of your case.

14.

What happens if Social Security denies my claim for disability benefits?

First, don’t give up hope. Most people are denied the first time they apply for Social Security Disability benefits.

If your claim is denied or you disagree with any part of the Social Security Administration’s decision, you may appeal the decision. Many claims are won on appeal.

In Missouri, the appeals process has three steps:

  • HEARING BEFORE AN ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE – First, you can go to a judge, who holds a hearing on your case.
  • APPEALS COUNCIL REVIEW – If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you can ask for Social Security’s Appeals Council to reconsider your case.
  • FEDERAL COURT – If you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision, you may appeal to the United States Court system.
    We strongly recommend hiring a lawyer to help you at every appeal level. The Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill can file your appeal for you.

15.

Does my age matter when trying to receive disability benefits?

Your age can make a difference.

A major factor determining your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits is whether you can adapt to different kinds of work – such as less physically strenuous jobs.

Over age 50, the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers it harder for you to switch to a new kind of job. As your age advances beyond that, the SSA becomes even more lenient in deciding whether you should be able to adapt to new work.

Every case is different. Contact the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill for a free consultation of your situation.

16.

I’m interested in talking with the Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill. What should I do?

Call us right away at 800.569.1999, or fill out the form on this page. The Law Offices of Karen Kraus Bill will provide a free consultation on your case.