Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability

In these FAQs, find some of the most common questions about obtaining Social Security disability in New Mexico. Here, our knowledgeable legal team shares their thoughts and perspectives—whether you’re just getting started or you need help later in the process.
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  • Will moving to another state affect my SSDI benefits?

    Moving Truck and Moving BoxesOnce you begin receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), you may decide to move to a different state. The good news is that your move will not affect your eligibility for SSDI, and you will not have to reapply for benefits in the new state you live in. However, you do need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) of your planned move.

    How to Notify the Social Security Administration When You Move to Another State

    You have a duty to notify the SSA of certain life changes when you are receiving SSDI benefits. This includes a duty to inform them of a new address and telephone number.

    You should contact the SSA before you move. This ensures that you will receive your payments at your new address if they are mailed to you and any future communications from the SSA regarding your benefits. You can change your address in these ways:

    • Online. The easiest way to notify the SSA of your new address is online through your Social Security profile.
    • Local office. You can also go to a local Social Security Administration office and report your address change there.

    What Happens If You Move in With Someone?

    If you move in with a friend, partner, or family member when you relocate, you will need to report your change of address to the Social Security Administration. However, the fact that you will now be living with someone will not affect your right to SSDI benefits. That is because your eligibility is based on your work and income history and not on the income of those you live with.

    Do you need help filing for SSDI benefits? Was your application denied? Our experienced Social Security disability lawyers are here to answer your questions and to assist you in obtaining the disability benefits you are entitled to. To find out more about how we can help you, call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule a free initial consultation today.

     

  • How do I send records to the Social Security Administration?

    Folder With Social Security PaperworkWhen you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), you will need to provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with documents that prove that you are too disabled to work and otherwise qualify for benefits. You could also need to send them additional documentation while they are reviewing your application or if your medical condition changes after you begin receiving SSDI benefits. Here is how you can submit additional information to the SSA.

    How to Provide the SSA With Your Documents

    One way that you can make the process of getting your application for SSDI benefits approved go faster is to provide the SSA with your complete medical records and other documents you need to support your application. You can provide it to the SSA in the following ways:

    • Initial application. When you initially apply for SSA or have additional documents to include before a claims examiner is assigned to your case, you can mail or drop off the information to your local SSA office.
    • Claims examiner. After you apply for benefits, a claims examiner will be assigned to review your application. You will be notified of the contact information for your claims examiner and will need to provide additional information to them directly.
    • Appeal. If the SSA denies your application, you have a right to appeal the decision. The notice of the denial will advise you of how to file your appeal and how to provide them with additional documentation of your disability.
    • Approval. Once you begin receiving SSDI benefits, you still have a duty to update the SSA if your medical condition improves or worsens. In addition, they may periodically review your file to determine if you still qualify for benefits. The SSA would notify you of where to send your documents in the letter advising you that your application is approved or when they review your eligibility for benefits.

    You should always keep a copy of any documents you send to the SSA for your records.

    What Is the Best Way to Provide Your Records to the SSA?

    If you want to be successful in obtaining SSDI benefits, you should retain an experienced Social Security disability attorney before submitting your application. An attorney can review it to be certain that it is completed properly and can help you collect the medical records and other documents you need to prove your right to benefits. They can also provide the SSA with necessary documents if you must file an appeal. Your lawyer may file many of your records electronically, which can be a safer and quicker way to provide them to the SSA.

    Are you applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits? Was your application denied? Start a live chat or call our Roswell office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • How long do I have to file an appeal for a Social Security Disability denial?

    Clock and Calendar on a DeskIf you file an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the Social Security Administration will review it and your supporting documents and make a decision on whether you qualify for benefits. If they deny your claim for SSDI benefits, you have a right to file an appeal of their decision. However, you must meet strict time deadlines for filing your appeal.

    How Long Do You Have to File an Appeal If the SSA Denies Your Application for SSDI Benefits?

    There are four levels of appeal of a Social Security Disability Insurance denial of benefits: reconsideration, ALJ hearing, Appeals Council, and Federal Court. Here are the deadlines you have to file your appeals:

    • Reconsideration. Your first step would be to ask the SSA to reconsider their decision. You have 60 days from the date of your denial to ask that another claims examiner review the decision to deny your request for SSDI benefits.
    • ALJ hearing. The next level of appeal would be to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). You must file this type of appeal within 60 days of the denial of your request for reconsideration.
    • Appeals Council. If the ALJ determines that you are not eligible for SSDI benefits, your next step in the appeal process would be to file a request for a review by the Appeals Council. You would have 60 days from the date of the ALJ decision to appeal to the Appeals Council. They have the ability to grant you an approval of benefits, remand your case for a second hearing, deny your appeal, or dismiss your case.
    • Federal court. Your final stage in the appeal process would be to file a lawsuit in federal court. You would have 60 days from the date of the Appeals Council’s decision to file your appeal.

    What Happens If You Miss the Time Period to Appeal?

    You would lose your right to file an appeal if you miss the 60-day deadline to do so. You would be able to file a new application for SSDI benefits. However, this would be a lengthy process, and you would waste a lot of time and effort.

    If you reapply for benefits, your application may be denied again for the same reasons. In addition, you lose the right to receive some of the back benefits you are entitled to if you are approved for SSDI the second time you appeal.

    Was your application for SSDI benefits denied? You need the help of a knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney if you want your appeal of the SSA’s decision to be successful. To find out how we can help, call our Roswell office to schedule your free case evaluation today.

     

  • How long does it take to get approved for SSDI?

    Calendar Dates in a PileIf you must apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because you cannot work due to a disabling medical condition, it can be stressful to wait for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make a decision on whether you qualify for benefits. While some people are approved in as little as 30 days, others can wait a year or longer before they receive a final decision.

    How Long Could it Take to Get a Decision on Your SSDI Application?

    Understanding how long it will take to get through the different stages of a SSDI claim can relieve your stress and help you know what to expect. Here is how long it could take:

    • Initial application. The average response time for the SSA to reach a decision after you apply for SSDI benefits is three to four months, but this time period could be extended to up to eight months.
    • Reconsideration. If the SSA denies your request for benefits, you will need to file a request for reconsideration of their decision. It could take them three to four months to send you a decision on your initial appeal.
    • Appeal. You will need to file an appeal and have your case decided by an administrative law judge (ALJ) if your request for reconsideration is denied. It could take six months to two years before your hearing is scheduled and the ALJ makes a decision on your claim.

    How to Get a Decision Faster

    You can take steps to speed up the process of receiving a decision from the Social Security Administration. Here are a few tips on what you can do:

    • Fill out your application completely, and list all the doctors you have seen. You should provide their contact information and the dates you were examined by them.
    • Include all of your medical records. This will avoid the SSA having to contact your physicians for this information, which could delay their initial decision significantly.
    • Obtain letters from all doctors who are treating you for your disability. Their letters should explain your medical condition and how it prevents you from working.
    • Check on the status of your application to be certain that the SSA does not need additional information and that they are reviewing your application. You can check this on the SSA website or by calling and speaking to a SSA representative.

    What is the best way to be certain that your claim goes faster? Retain an experienced Social Security disability lawyer immediately. They can help you file your application properly, provide all the documentation needed for you to get a quick decision, and file your appeal if this is necessary. To learn how we can help, call our Roswell office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • What is a cumulative medical exam?

    Stethoscope Sitting on a TableWhen you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), the Social Security Administration (SSA) will decide whether you qualify for benefits. They could schedule a cumulative medical exam to help them make a decision on your claim. This is a physical or mental examination that they will use when deciding whether you are unable to work due to your medical condition.

    When Could You Be Required to Attend a Cumulative Medical Exam?

    Whether the SSA will schedule a cumulative medical exam will depend on your disability and the evidence you submit to support your application. Examples of when this exam may be required include:

    • Additional medical information is needed that is not included in your medical records.
    • There are gaps in your medical treatment, or you have not been treated by a doctor for a while.
    • The SSA cannot obtain your medical records from your doctor for a reason beyond your control, such as your physician’s death or refusal to supply them.
    • There are inconsistencies in your medical records.
    • The SSA needs specialized medical evidence to decide your claim.
    • You could experience a change in your medical condition in the future that may affect your ability to work.

    Who Performs a Cumulative Medical Exam?

    Your treating physician can conduct a cumulative medical exam. Often it is performed by an independent doctor hired by the SSA. These doctors do not work for the SSA.

    What Happens at a Cumulative Medical Exam?

    The purpose of your exam is not to treat you. It is to determine how serious your disability is.

    The extent of your cumulative medical exam will depend on your disability and the questions that the SSA has about how it affects your ability to work.

    However, there are specific rules on how long your exam should last. Here are some requirements that should be followed:

    • A general physical exam should be for at least 30 minutes.
    • A musculoskeletal or neurological examination should take at least 20 minutes to perform.
    • A psychological exam should last at least 60 minutes and a psychiatric exam should last for at least 40 minutes.
    • Other types of examinations are required to be for at least 30 minutes.

    Once the exam is completed, the physician would submit a written report to the SSA.

    Who Pays for a Cumulative Medical Exam?

    The SSA will pay for a cumulative medical exam and any diagnostic tests associated with it. You should not be charged for these services.

    Are you considering filing for SSDI? Does the SSA require you to attend a cumulative medical exam? Call our Roswell office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Social Security disability lawyers who can help you obtain the SSDI benefits you are entitled to.

     

  • Do I need an attorney to appeal a Social Security disability denial?

    Appeal Word CloudIf your application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) is denied, you do not have to hire a lawyer to file your appeal. However, if you want to win your case, your best strategy would be to retain an experienced Social Security disability attorney. Here are three reasons why having a lawyer represent you in your appeal will increase the chances of success.

    Reason #1: Gathering Your Medical Documents

    Your attorney will review your entire file and all the medical documents you provided that support your application. They will be able to identify gaps in your medical history and will be able to obtain the medical records you need to file with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to support your claim quicker than you could. They will also contact your doctors and have them write a written opinion that explains fully what your disability is and how this prevents you from working.

    Reason #2: Understanding of Law and Procedures

    A knowledgeable attorney will know how to file your appeal properly. They will also understand the rules and procedures that must be followed so that your appeal proceeds quickly and smoothly.

    Reason #3: Preparing You for Your Hearing

    One of the biggest benefits of having an attorney is that they will be with you at your hearing for your appeal. Some of the ways an attorney can help you include:

    • Trial preparation. They will prepare you for the questions that the administrative judge will ask you at your hearing.
    • Evidence. They would be certain that all your medical records, doctors’ opinions, and other evidence that supports your claim of disability are presented at your hearing.
    • Witnesses. They will identify all the expert witnesses you need, such as a physician, and any other witnesses who can help you prove your disability and will prepare them to testify at your hearing.
    • Cross-examination. A vocational expert would most likely testify on behalf of the SSA. After the administrative law judge questions this expert, your lawyer can effectively cross-exam them about their findings and show how they are inaccurate. They would also cross-exam any other witnesses presented on behalf of the SSA.

    Was your application for SSDI benefits denied? Call our office to schedule a free initial consultation to learn how our skilled Social Security disability lawyers in Roswell can help you.

     

  • How are grid rules used to determine Social Security disability eligibility?

    Magnifying Glass Examining the RulesIf you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, it can be easier to get your application approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA) if you are 50 years old or older. The SSA considers it harder for older applicants to learn new job skills or move to a different type of work. If the SSA decides that you can no longer perform your former job duties, they will use grid rules to determine if you are eligible for benefits.

    How the Grid Rules Work

    The SSA refers to the additional difficulty an older worker has switching to a new type of job as a vocational adjustment and uses grid rules to determine these applicants’ claims. The SSA considers a number of factors that are applied to grids the SSA developed in deciding whether someone qualifies for benefits. The following factors are considered.

    Applicant’s Age

    The SSA divides applicants into the following age groups: younger individuals (aged 18 through 49 years old), individuals approaching old age (50 through 54 years old), advanced age (55 years old or older), and approaching retirement (60 years old or older). It is easier for an older individual to get approved by the SSA under the grid rules.

    Education Level

    Individuals who have a lower educational level are more likely to have their application for SSDI approved. The SSA divides educational abilities into the following levels:

    • High school graduation or higher with additional training for skilled work
    • High school graduation or higher with no additional training for skilled work
    • Limited education, which is generally completing l1th grade or lower
    • Inability to read and write

    Past Work Experience

    The SSA considers an individual’s prior work experience under the grid rules. Jobs are grouped into these classifications: unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled. It is easiest for unskilled workers to qualify for SSDI using the grids.

    Transferable Work Skills

    The SSA will take into account whether semi-skilled or skilled workers have job skills that would transfer to other types of employment. Applicants who have more transferable job skills will have a harder time getting their application approved.

    Residential Functional Capacity

    A person’s residential functional capacity (RFC) is their ability to do work on a full-time basis. In determining what a person’s RFC is, the Social Security Administration will use medical evidence, such as from the applicant’s doctor, as to their ability to stand, walk, lift, push, and carry. RFC is divided into these categories:

    • Sedentary work
    • Light work
    • Heavy work
    • Very heavy work

    Individuals classified as heavy work or very heavy work will be more likely to qualify for SSDI under the grid rules.

    Do you have questions about your eligibility for SSDI under the grid rules? Do you need help appealing a denial of your application? Start a live chat or call our Roswell office to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Social Security disability lawyers.

     

  • Am I entitled to Medicare if I am getting SSDI benefits?

    Desk Calendar With a ClockIf you are approved for SSDI benefits, you also qualify for Medicare. However, you are not are eligible for Medicare right away. Here, you can learn how this complicated waiting period for benefits works.

    How Long Is the Waiting Period for Medicare?

    There is a two-year waiting period after the first month you are eligible for your monthly SSDI payments before you can receive Medicare. However, not everyone who applies for SSDI has to wait two years before being entitled to Medicare. Here is how the waiting period rules work:

    • The two-year waiting period for Medicare starts running from the date you start receiving your monthly SSDI benefits. The date when you are eligible for SSDI payments is the date of your disability plus a five-month waiting period.
    • If it takes you a long time to get your SSDI application approved, which is common, you may have already gone through much or all of the two-year waiting period for Medicare during the application and appeal process.
    • Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) only pays 12 months of retroactive SSDI benefits, the earliest date that you can qualify for Medicare is one year after you apply for SSDI.

    Exceptions to the Two-Year Waiting Period for Medicare Eligibility

    Currently, there are two exceptions to the rule that you must wait two years before receiving Medicare. You may be entitled to Medicare immediately in these situations:

    • End-stage renal disease with kidney failure. If you need ongoing dialysis or a kidney transplant due to end-stage renal disease, you can obtain Medicare coverage the third month after you begin dialysis.
    • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). You are eligible for Medicare as soon as you are eligible for SSDI if you suffer from ALS.

    Do you need help figuring out when you qualify for Medicare? Are you filing your SSDI application? Call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule your free consultation today with our experienced Social Security disability legal team to get your questions answered and learn how we can help you.

     

  • How much does it cost to hire a Social Security disability attorney?

    Social Security Disability Lawyer Meeting With a Potential ClientWhen you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you are more likely to get your application approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA) if you are represented by an attorney. However, you may be concerned that you cannot afford to pay a lawyer when you are not working because of your disabilities. Here’s why you do not need to be worried about this.

    How Lawyers Charge Their Fees in Social Security Cases

    Social Security disability attorneys charge their attorney fees on a contingency fee basis. Under this type of agreement, you would not owe any up-front attorney fees. Here’s how payment of the fees works:

    • You would only owe attorney fees if you win your case. If you do not receive SSDI benefits, you would owe no attorney fees.
    • Your lawyer cannot charge you more than 25% of your back pay or $6,000, whichever is less.
    • Your attorney will be paid their attorney fees out of your back pay award before you receive your payment.

    Retainer Agreements in SSDI Cases

    Your lawyer must enter into a written retainer agreement with you, stating how much you will be charged. They must also file a petition with the SSA to obtain approval of the fee agreement. Once the SSA approves it, they will pay the attorney fees directly out of the backpay award.

    How Costs Are Charged in Social Security Disability Insurance Cases

    In addition to the attorney fees you will owe, you must also pay the costs associated with your case. These costs can include copying costs for your medical records and reports from your physicians.

    Some lawyers will require you to pay these extra costs as they are incurred while others will pay them and get reimbursed when they are paid their attorney fees. Your retainer agreement should spell out how you must pay these costs.

    Experience Matters When Selecting Your Attorney

    While the attorney fees you will owe is a consideration when hiring a lawyer, it should not be the only factor you consider. You need an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who has a track record of success if you want to win your case.

    Are you applying for SSDI benefits? Do you need to file an appeal? Call our Roswell office to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you.

     

  • What should I do to prepare for my Social Security disability hearing?

    Wooden Gavel Used at a Social Security HearingIf your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you will need to file an appeal and attend a hearing. Providing a good testimony at your hearing will be crucial to getting your SSDI application approved. Here are five tips on how to prepare for it.

    What You Will Testify to at Your Hearing

    Understanding what you will need to testify about can help you as you prepare for your hearing. You will need to answer questions about the following:

    • Your medical conditions that have caused you to become disabled and the symptoms you experience
    • Limitations in your physical and mental conditions caused by your disability
    • Your medical treatments and medications for your medical condition
    • Your education and training
    • Your work history
    • Your day-to-day activities and how your disabilities have affected your ability to do them

    Five Tips to Prepare for Your Hearing

    Being prepared for your hearing is essential if you want to win your appeal. Here are five ways you can get ready for it:

    • Review your file. You need to review your application, your medical records, and any correspondence with the SSA. This will help you to remember what you have told them about your disability and issues in your case that you will need to address at your hearing.
    • Prepare a cheat sheet. You can bring documents to your hearing that will help you remember all the important details about your disability. Collect these documents, such as your application, medical records, and notes to yourself regarding common questions you can expect to be asked.
    • Provide recent medical records. It is important that the administrative law judge has all your current medical records when deciding your case. Submit any up-to-date medical documents with the SSA before your hearing so that they are in your file and can be reviewed by the judge at your hearing.
    • Obtain a written doctor’s statement. One crucial type of evidence you will need is your doctor’s statement about your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work. Even if you filed this statement when you applied for SSDI, you should obtain a more recent one from your physician once you receive the notice of your hearing from the SSA.
    • Retain an attorney. The best way that you can ensure that you are fully prepared for your hearing is to retain an experienced Social Security disability lawyer. They can help you file your application correctly, provide the SSA with all the medical records and other evidence they need, prepare you for your hearing, and attend it with you.

    Do you need assistance preparing for your Social Security disability hearing? Call our Roswell office to learn how our skilled Social Security disability legal team can help.