Workers’ Compensation And Social Security FAQs

If you have questions about your Social Security Disability or a workers’ compensation case in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kirk C. Thompson Law Office, P.A., has the answers for you. Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions our clients have for us.

Social Security FAQs

How long do the applications and appeals processes take?

Unfortunately, there is no strict timeline for Social Security Disability applications or appeals. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), initial applications take between 90 and 120 days to process, but they sometimes take longer depending on the agency’s current caseload. Reconsiderations typically take about four to six months but can last much longer. It can take a year or more to schedule a hearing, and Appeals Council reviews tend to take around a year and a half.

How much will it cost me to hire a lawyer?

We represent clients on a contingent fee basis, meaning you don’t owe us any fees until you win your case. Attorney fees are generally 25% of past-due benefits, but we have a cap of $6,000. Initial consultations are always free.

How can a lawyer help?

It can be very confusing and frustrating to try to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Most of our clients have already submitted an initial application and have been denied, but we can offer assistance with filling an initial application all the way up to a federal court proceeding if necessary.

A lawyer with experience in Social Security Disability law can help build your case and present your claim to the judge or disability examiner more efficiently and effectively. We know the type of information that the SSA wants to see before issuing a favorable determination.

How do I apply for Social Security benefits?

To apply, you must submit an application to the Social Security Administration. SSDI applications can be completed online, but you will need to contact your local Social Security office to file an application in person or over the phone for SSI. State agency examiners collect copies of your medical records from your providers and often schedule appointments with agency-paid doctors to conduct a consultative examination. The agency reviews all the evidence and makes an initial determination based on SSA guidelines. Only about 36% of initial applications are approved. If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal.

Can I still work and receive disability benefits?

Yes, if your gross earnings are below what the SSA calls “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA, you may still qualify for disability benefits. SGA is adjusted yearly for inflation. In 2014, that means you must be earning less than $1,070 a month.

How much can I get paid?

Disability benefit amounts change each year because they are subject to a cost of living adjustment.

SSDI benefit amounts vary based on age, work history and earnings. For 2014, the average monthly payment amount is $1,148. The 2014 maximum payment amount is $2,642.

For 2014, the maximum a single disabled individual can receive in SSI is $721 per month. On average, 2014 SSI disability payments are about $547 per month.

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

SSDI is a non-needs-based federal cash benefits program designed to provide replacement income to individuals no longer able to work due to disability. Qualifying individuals must have paid into the system through Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) wage deductions and have been determined by the Social Security Administration to be disabled. Benefit amounts vary based on age, work history and earnings.

SSI is a needs-based program available to people with limited resources who are disabled, blind or elderly. The amount you’re eligible to receive in benefits changes each year. For 2014, the maximum a single disabled individual can receive is $721 per month. For a married couple, the 2014 maximum is $1,082 per month.

Your eligibility for SSDI or SSI also affects your ability to receive Medicare or Medicaid assistance. SSDI recipients are automatically enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B after two years of receiving SSDI payments. If you qualify for SSI, you likely also qualify for Medicaid assistance. You should consult with an attorney for case-specific information.

What is Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability includes both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and disability benefits from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). While SSDI is only available to wage earners who have contributed to the system by paying FICA taxes, SSI applicants do not need to have any significant work history.

To receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a severe physical or mental impairment that prevents you from working full-time for one year or more. The SSA decides whether you are “disabled” under its own standards. It is not enough that your doctor, counselor or even another government agency or administration thinks you are disabled. The easiest way to qualify is for your condition to meet or equal a Social Security impairment listing, but you may also qualify if you can show the SSA that you are unable to take part in meaningful employment. You should talk to a lawyer to figure out if you might qualify.

Do I qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

You are considered disabled under Social Security Disability rules if your severe physical and/or mental health impairments are expected to prevent you from being able to work for at least 12 months. This is a simple explanation of a complex process.

Who can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

Children and adults can qualify. Claims based on the work credits earned by the wage earner before becoming disabled are used to calculate the amount of Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDIB). If the claimant does not have a long enough work history or no work history, a disabled claimant can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which also has a financial need component for qualifying.

If I win my case how much money will I receive?

If you win your case for SSDIB the amount you will receive each month is based on your lifetime earnings. You can establish an account on SSA.GOV to see the monthly benefit you would qualify for. Supplemental Security Income is a maximum of $794 per month for an individual.

Can I get SSDI retroactive benefits?

If your case is awarded, you can collect benefits dating back one year from your date of filing plus benefits from that date to the present, as well as ongoing benefits if you remain disabled.

Workers’ Comp FAQs

Am I entitled to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits?

You are entitled to benefits if your physical injury “arose out of” your work and occurred “in the course of” your work.

  • “Arising out of” your work activities means your injury was caused in part by the work you were doing when injured.
  • Your work activity does not need to be the sole cause of an injury, only a substantial or significant cause.

Your injury can be a “specific” injury, occurring at one moment, such as caused by lifting a heavy object or slipping and falling. Or your injury can be caused by the “wear and tear” of your work activities over time. This type of injury in Minnesota is called a Gillette injury, named after a court case where this type of injury is recognized. The work does not need to be the sole cause of injury, only a significant cause.

A physical injury can also be caused by occupational exposure. Injuries resulting from exposure to chemicals, smoke, fumes, poison and the like are compensable as “occupational diseases.”

An injury can also be a “mental” injury if it resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Special rules apply to compensation for a PTSD injury and therefore consultation with an attorney is recommended.

Do I need to report my injury?

It is very important that you report your work injury as soon as possible after it happens. You should tell your supervisor or other management personnel that you were hurt at work and what body parts were injured. Make sure you tell someone in charge or in management about your injury and insist on filling out a written injury report.

What benefits are available from workers’ compensation?

There are four basic types of benefits – wage loss, permanent partial disability (a percentage loss of body function), medical expense and vocational rehabilitation assistance benefits.

If an injury or disease results in the death of the worker, family members who are financially dependent on the deceased worker are entitled to dependency benefits, which are loss of earnings-type benefits paid out over time. Dependency benefits are complicated. Consultation with an attorney is recommended.

Have Your Questions Answered

To schedule a free discussion of your case, call Kirk C. Thompson Law Office, P.A., at 612-682-0617 or complete an online form.