Frequently Asked Questions

Please review any items below or contact me if you have a more specific inquiry.

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Yes.  If you have been diagnosed with a mental condition and have been out of work for at least a year—or expect to be out of work for at least a year—because of that condition by itself or in combination with other medical problems, you may be eligible for SSD or SSI.

No—not because of alcoholism or other kinds of substance abuse.   If a disability applicant has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, then the applicant must prove that that history is not a contributing or material factor to their disability.  In other words, they need to prove either that the abuse history is not contributing to their disability, or that there is no way to tell whether the abuse history is contributing to their disability.

Yes, if the work is limited, but the applicant should generally expect that the ongoing work could be an obstacle to their success.  Technically, if a person is working infrequently enough, and/or being paid little enough, for the work to fall below what Social Security calls “substantial gainful activity”, that work may not impede a disability application. However, the work may complicate the claim in other ways.

Yes. If an applicant experiences side effects from taking medications, then Social Security is supposed to take those effects—whether physical, mental or both—into consideration when evaluating the claim and deciding whether the applicant is disabled.

Maybe.  After a person files a SSD or SSI application, the claim may be medically evaluated by a state disability determinations agency.   The agency may, by its own action or upon request of the applicant, request copies of the applicant’s medical records.  Applicants waiting for hearings may also have their medical records requested or subpoenaed by a Social Security administrative law judge.  History has shown, however, that state agencies and/or Social Security judges do not consistently request medical records covering the period of time that an applicant claims he or she has been disabled.

No.  SSD or SSI applicants may be represented by lawyers, non-lawyers, or no-one at all.  Applicants should, if possible, make themselves aware of the likely time-frames and issues involved in filing their disability applications when deciding whether or not to hire a representative to help them.  Representatives can help applicants in any number of ways, including filing appeals of denied claims, obtaining medical records and opinions from treating doctors, and appearing with claimants at Social Security disability hearings.