Disability Law Information


Disability Law




434 NW 19th Avenue, Portland oregon 97209

434 NW 19th Avenue

Portland, OR  97209




Social Security Benefits

SSI Appeals

SSD Appeals

Disability Attorneys




Q: What is disability law?

A: . Disability law covers the special laws affecting people who are disabled.  It protects and serves as a guide for those who are seeking compensation or who believe they deserve compensation but have been turned down.

Q:  How do I know if I am covered by disability benefits?

A:  The laws regarding disability eligibility are complex, so it is important to speak to an experienced attorney who can help you to determine if you are eligible or if you may be eligible after having been turned down.  In general, if you are physically or emotionally disabled to the extent that you cannot work a regular job, you may be eligible for disability benefits.  

Q: When should I apply for disability benefits?

A: You should apply as soon as you become disabled, as it may take 3-5 months for your application to be processed, and even longer if you are turned down and then have to file an appeal.  An attorney can help you file your application quickly and ensure that you begin receiving benefits as soon as possible.

Q: I believe that I am eligible for benefits because I have a disability that prevents me from working, but I was turned down.  What should I do now?

A: Many people who are eligible for disability benefits are turned down-- sometimes multiple times.  Research has shown that people who have retained legal representation are less likely to be turned down, and can find the applicable provision to successfully begin receiving benefits.

Q: What about Social Security benefits-- how do I know if I'm eligible?

A:  Social Security pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Federal law requires this very strict definition of disability. While other programs, often through the state, give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability, Social Security does not. Certain family members of disabled workers also can receive money from Social Security.

Q: What is the differences between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD)?

A: There is no difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in regards to disability. For both SSD and SSI, a person must be blind or found disabled due to a physical or mental impairment, or a combination of both.  In some instances, claimants are eligible for both SSD and SSI benefits.

The non-disability requirements for SSD and SSI are very different however.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) is a disability insurance program paid for with Social Security taxes that are withheld from your paycheck every week. To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) benefits, a person must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for a period of time to earn sufficient work credits to be insured.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) however, is not based upon work credits, but financial need. Claimants with limited resources may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), whether they worked or never worked.

Q: What is the earnings requirement to be eligible for Social Security benefits?

A: In general, to get disability benefits, you must meet two different earnings tests:

1.   A “recent work” test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
2.   A “duration of work” test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.  Certain blind workers have to meet only the “duration of work” test.  An attorney can help you determine if you meet the earnings requirement.  

Q: What kind of information do I need to provide to the Social Security Administration to apply for benefits?

A: The information needed includes:

Your Social Security number;
Your birth or baptismal certificate;
Names, addresses and phone numbers of the doctors, caseworkers, hospitals and clinics that took care of you and dates of your visits;
Names and dosage of all the medicine you take;
Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics and caseworkers that you already have in your possession;
Laboratory and test results;
A summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did; and
A copy of your most recent W-2 Form (
Wage and Tax Statement) or, if you are self-employed, your federal tax return for the past year.

In addition to the basic application for disability benefits, there are other forms you will need to fill out. One form collects information about your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work. Other forms give doctors, hospitals and other health care professionals who have treated you permission to send  information about your medical condition.

Q: What factors determine whether I qualify for Social Security or other benefits? Who decides?

A: When Social Security reviews your application, they will look at the following questions:

·         Are you working?
If you are working and your earnings average more than a certain amount each month,  you generally will not consider you disabled. The amount changes each year. If you are not working, or your monthly earnings average the current amount or less, the state agency then looks at your medical condition.

·         Is your medical condition “severe”?
For the state agency to decide that you are disabled, your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities—such as walking, sitting and remembering—for at least one year. If your medical condition is not that severe, the state agency will not consider you disabled. If your condition is that severe, the state agency goes on to step three.

·         Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?
The state agency has a “List of Impairments” that describes medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically mean that you are disabled as defined by law. If your condition (or combination of medical conditions) is not on this list, the state agency looks to see if your condition is as severe as a condition that is on the list. If the severity of your medical condition meets or equals that of a listed impairment, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If it does not, the state agency goes on to step four.

·         Can you do the work you did before?
At this step, the state agency decides if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before you became disabled or injured. If it does not, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled. If it does, the state agency goes on to step five.

·         Can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, the state agency looks to see if you would be able to do other work. It evaluates your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you cannot do other work, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled.

Q: How do I know if my family members are eligible to receive Social Security benefits because of my disability?

A: Certain members of your family may qualify for benefits based on your work. They include:

Your spouse, if he or she is 62 or older;
Your spouse, at any age if he or she is caring for a child of yours who is younger than age 16 or disabled;
Your unmarried child, including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild or grandchild. The child must be under age 18 or under age 19 if in elementary or secondary school full time; and
Your unmarried child, age 18 or older, if he or she has a disability that started before age 22. (The child’s disability also must meet the definition of disability for adults.)

Q: What if I can only work part-time due to my disability?

A: In some cases, a person may work to the extent hat he or she is able, and receive a reduced Social Security benefit.


Q: Can I receive disability benefits if I have never worked before?

A: Generally, you cannot receive disability benefits if you have never held a job or paid into federal taxes.  However, there are programs to help you if you are disabled and have never held a job, such as SSI and other state programs.


Q: If I have been approved for disability benefits, will I receive ‘back pay?’

A. You may receive back pay which will cover the time which has passed since you first applied. However, this amount of time may not exceed 12 months, but you could still receive a substantial amount of retroactive or past-due benefits.


Q: If I'm found to be disabled, how much money can I expect to receive?

A: SSD  monthly benefits vary. It depends on how much you have worked paid into the Social Security System. SSI  benefits vary as well, but  due to financial considerations.  In order to be eligible for SSI, you must have limited resources.

Q: Why should I hire a lawyer to help with my disability claim?

A: Unfortunately, partly due to the large number of claims, the Social Security Administration often denies benefits to people who are truly disabled. It is your burden to prove that you are disabled according to Social Security standards, and the Social Security regulations and forms are complex.  A lawyer can help you at any stage of your claim.

Q: How much will it cost me to hire a lawyer?  What if I don't get my benefits, and then owe the lawyer money?

A: Disability lawyers work on a contingency fee, meaning that you will only have to pay your lawyer if your appeal is successful and you get back-payments of Social Security benefits.

Another factor that can change the statute of limitations is whether or not the government is being sued in a plane crash. Shorter notice / statutes of limitations generally apply to suits involving the government or a governmental agency such as the FAA, and can sometimes be as short as year or six months following an accident.  Your attorney can help you determine the deadline for when a suit must be filed. 

Copyright 2010, 2011, 2012.


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