Serving Central California Since 1995

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability


Social Security Disability
Frequently Asked Questions

What is SSDI (Title II) and SSI (Title XVI)?

Social Security administers two programs for disabled people under age 65 who cannot work. Although the medical requirements for both programs are the same, there are some important differences:

  • Social Security Disability (SSDI):
    is for people who have worked and paid their social security taxes. This is not a Welfare program based on need.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
    is for people who have not worked long enough to qualify for SSDI, and are poor with little or no other resources. This is a Welfare program based on need.

Why should I use a representative?

We specialize in helping the average citizen through the maze of red tape and confusion often experienced by those applying for social security disability benefits. We are not attorneys. Our professional assistance not only insures that you will receive a fair consideration of your claim, but also acts to reduce the stress and worry that so often occurs when applying for benefits.

Can a representative guarantee I’ll win?

No. The disability process is complex and very often frustrating. However, if your case can be won, we will determine the fastest and most effective way of doing so.

Things You Can Do to Help Prepare For – and Win – a Disability Case (.PDF File – 47kb)

How can I tell if am disabled enough to qualify for SS benefits?

Although it gets easier to be found disabled as you get older, you don’t have to be bedridden, even if you are a young person. If you cannot work at a regular job, including your past jobs, because of your medical problems, that ought to be enough. Nevertheless, being unable to work and being found disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are two different things. It is often not easy to convince SSA that someone is disabled even when they genuinely cannot work. At the same time, however, it is not impossible. If you really cannot work, apply for Social Security Benefits and keep appealing denials at least until you go through the hearing before an administrative law judge.

How long will it take before I’ll know if I will get benefits?

It is impossible to predict how long it will take SSA to process your case. However, we will look for every opportunity to speed it up. It usually takes 12 months to have a hearing from the time a request is filled with SSA. There continues to be a huge backlog so some hearing offices are taking up to 16 months to get a hearing scheduled.

How much will I be paid?

The amount of your monthly payments from SSA for SSDI payments is determined by how much you have earned over the years and paid into the program. Currently, SSI is paying a maximum of $866.40 per month for California residents (2015).

What if I have already been denied once?

Most of our clients come to us after they have been denied. If you have applied for SSDI or SSI and have already received a denial notice letter, we will take it from there. We will enter your case on the appropriate appeal level, and present the facts in your case that will favor a decision of disability. We not only supply written arguments in your case, but will also personally present your case before an administrative law judge if the case demands it, at no additional cost to you.

I am denied benefits and I did not appeal within 60 days! What now?

You’ll have to start over with a new application and it may mean that you’ll lose some back benefits. So it’s important to appeal right away so that you get through the bureaucratic denial system faster. The quicker you can get to the hearing stage, the better.

How do I appeal?

You can appeal in one of four ways: You can bring or send all of your paper work to us and we will prepare the proper documents for the appeal stage you are in. You can telephone the social security office to make arrangements for your appeal over the telephone. You can go to the social security office and put in your appeal in writing. You can also file your appeal over the Internet at

What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to get disability benefits?

Failing to appeal. More than half of the people initially fail to request reconsideration after the first application has been denied. Another mistake, although much less common, is made by some people when they fail to obtain appropriate medical care. Some people with long-term chronic medical problems feel that they have not been helped much by doctors. Others do not have the money to see doctors. Thus, for the most part, they stop going for treatment. This is a mistake for both medical and legal reasons. First, no one needs good medical care more that those with chronic medical problems. Second, medical treatment records provide the most important evidence in a social security disability case.

What are my chances with the Administrative Law Judge?

Every case is different and there is no way to foresee what a particular Judge might do. But you can look at the hearing statistics at by entering the name of the Judge.

If I hire you, how will I be notified of my hearing?

You should hear from us first. The Judge’s assistant will telephone us before scheduling your hearing to make sure we do not have any conflicts on our calendar. As soon as we hear from the Judge’s assistant, we will send you a letter explaining the process. After you get the letter from us, you will get a Notice of Hearing from the Judge indicating the date, time, and place of the hearing.

What will my representative do to prepare for the hearing?

We will review your file with the social security office. We will figure out what we need to prove to win your case and find out how to prove it. We will get the necessary medical and other records about your conditions. We will obtain reports from your doctors, if necessary. We will meet with you before your hearing to get you prepared to testify. We will also talk with any witnesses from whom we may want to present testimony at your hearing.

Why should I hire a representative and not an attorney?

Diana P. Wade has limited her practice specifically to Social Security Disability appeals. Many lawyers are not trained to handle these type of cases and may require a large up-front retainer. Federal Law specifically allows a qualified non-attorney to represent clients, in the same way an attorney does, in an action with certain administrative agencies (i.e. SSA). There is no requirement that a representative be a licensed attorney. Diana Wade is an Accredited Disability Representative. As your authorized representative, we will represent you and appear with you at the hearing in the same way as an attorney. Non-attorneys cannot represent a claimant beyond the Appeals Council level. All cases that go as far as Federal Court must have a licensed attorney handle their case. We can provide assistance in that area should the case be denied.

How do I pay my representative?

Social Security require fees to be approved by SSA regardless of whether you use an attorney or a representative. We charge no up-front fees. You pay us only if you win. The amount is 25% of the back benefits (your monthly amount is unchanged) up to a maximum of $6,000.00 of the retroactive payments. Diana Wade is qualified to recieve her payment directly from SSA.

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