Social Security / Disability

Reitan Law Office, PLLC offers a Free Initial Consultation for Disabled individuals who have been denied Social Security Disability ("RSDI") or Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits.

COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY AND SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME

Do I need an attorney and can I afford one?

There is no charge to meet with us. If you choose to retain us and we choose to accept your case, then we enter into a contingent fee agreement. Until and unless we do this, there would never be a charge to you.

It is extremely important that you have an attorney at the hearing level of your appeal. After your original denial, the first appeal is to file a Request for Reconsideration. If you want to retain us at this level, we can file this appeal for you and we have the forms in our offices. If you are turned down on Reconsideration, you need to file a Request for Hearing. Again, we have the necessary forms in our offices and can help you file that appeal.

Reitan Law Office, PLLC wants to help you with your claim for RSDI and/or SSI benefits. We would be glad to meet with you and answer your questions without cost or obligation.

Common Questions and Answers for Social Security Disability and SSI Applicants
Am I disabled enough to apply for Social Security benefits?

Just because you have not been able to find work does not mean you are disabled. The definition of disability under Social Security is the inability to engage in any gainful activity for a period of one year. It is not easy to convince Social Security that someone is disabled even when they genuinely cannot work. Proper preparation of your case is important in convincing Social Security of your inability to work.

If you really cannot work, apply for Social Security disability benefits and do not become frustrated. Keep appealing denials until you have a hearing before an administrative law judge .

How do I apply for Social Security disability or SSI benefits?
You can telephone the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-772-1213. When you call them they will give you an option of going to the Social Security office to apply for benefits or having your application taken over the phone. Southern Minnesota offices are located in Mankato, Austin, Fairmont, Marshall, Rochester and Winona. Twin Cities offices are located in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Edina and Brooklyn Park. A complete listing of addresses and phone numbers for all Minnesota Social Security offices can be found on the Legal Resource page. If you choose to go to the Social Security office, the person at the 800 number will schedule an appointment for you and give you directions to the Social Security office. If you want to apply by phone you will be given a date and an approximate time to expect a phone call from someone at the Social Security office who will take your application over the phone.

How do I appeal?

You can appeal by telephoning the Social Security office and making arrangements for your appeal to be handled by phone or going to the Social Security office to put in your appeal. After the original denial, the first stage of appeal is to file a Request for Reconsideration. If you want to retain us at this level, we can file this appeal for you and we have the forms in our offices.

What happens if I am denied benefits and I do not appeal within 60 days?

If you do not appeal within 60 days you will have to start over with a new application. This further delays getting benefits and also potentially could result in losing some back benefits. It is essential that you appeal a denial timely. It is better to appeal as soon as possible to get through the bureaucratic denial system faster. Often cases are not granted until they have had a hearing.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get disability benefits?

By far the biggest mistake is the failure to follow through with a timely appeal. Social Security weeds people out by frustration. A large percentage of those who follow through with their appeal rights eventually are granted benefits. However, more than half the people who are originally denied fail to request reconsideration.

Another mistake is failure to obtain appropriate medical care. Some people, partially through frustration, fail to continue to follow-up periodically with a doctor because they have chronic problems and the doctor is not able to help them. The result is they stop going for treatment. It is important to get good medical treatment for chronic medical problems and also to provide evidence of the disability to Social Security.

Since medical evidence is so important, should I have my doctor write a letter to the Social Security Administration and should I attempt to gather medical records and send them to Social Security?

You can do this if you wish. However, Social Security will be gathering all your medical records. Through years of experience, it seems as if the deck is stacked against people until they get to the hearing stage. It is most important to have proper medical records available to the hearing judge.

Do I need an attorney to apply for disability benefits?

No, you do not. Our office seldom represents people at the initial stage. We often get involved in the reconsideration stage. We feel, however, that it is extremely important that you have an attorney at the hearing level of your appeal.

When should I contact an attorney about representing me?

As soon as you receive a reconsideration denial or upon initial denial.

How much do you charge?

The standard fee is 25% of back benefits, subject to a maximum of $5,300. This means that one-fourth of your first check will automatically be deducted by Social Security. No attorney fees will be taken out of future benefits. In addition to the attorney fee, it is your responsibility to pay costs of getting medical records or medical opinions.

Do you have any other advice about getting through the initial or reconsideration steps?

Yes. First, do not get frustrated. It is essential that you follow through with your appeals to at least the hearing level. Give Social Security all the information it asks in a straight-forward and candid way. Be truthful about your limitations but do not minimize them. Lastly, appeal any denial immediately.

If we have other questions, may we discuss them with you?

Yes, there is no charge to meet with Philip or Benjamin Reitan. If you choose to retain us and we choose to accept your case, then we would enter into a contingent fee agreement. Until and unless we do that, there will never be a charge to you.