Buckley & Buckley, LLC
234 Church Street
New Haven, CT 06510
Phone: 203-624-2424
mab@buckleyandbuckley.info
Frequently Asked Questions
We would like to hear your questions, either as suggestions to add to this list, or to respond to you directly. Contact us with your suggestions and questions.

  • WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SSD AND SSI?
    SSD or Social Security Disability is a program for people who have worked a certain period of time, usually 20 quarters (for every 3 months you work, you are credited with a quarter) in the last 40 quarters-- easy translation: 5 out of the past 10 years. Disability benefits are based on the amount paid into the system from wages or income. SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a program for people who have never worked or not worked enough quarters to be eligible for SSD. In both cases, the medical rules for eligibility are the same.


  • I HAVE NEVER WORKED; CAN I STILL QUALIFY FOR BENEFITS?
    Yes; if you are disabled and meet certain income and asset criteria, you may qualify for SSI benefits.


  • HOW DO I APPLY FOR BENEFITS?
    There are several ways to apply. You can apply over the telephone, in person at the local Social Security Office or online.


  • HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FIND OUT IF I QUALIFY?
    Currently, in Connecticut, it is taking approximately 3 to 4 months for the decision on the initial application. If an appeal is necessary, it is taking an additional 2 to 3 months. If a hearing is necessary, the average length for hearing time is 12 months.


  • IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO SPEED UP THE PROCESS SO IT DOES NOT TAKE SO LONG?
    Yes; there are certain things that may be able to be done, depending on your individual circumstances, and special circumstances based on dire need.

  • WHAT IF I AM STILL WORKING?
    Under certain circumstances, you may still be eligible for benefits if you are still working, such as you are working very little and making very little income, you are working for a particularly helpful employer or family member, or you are working under a special program.


  • WHAT IF I THINK I CAN RETURN TO WORK WHILE MY APPLICATION IS PENDING?
    You may still be eligible for benefits if you return to work. If your return to work is unsuccessful, after a short period of time, as a result of your medical conditions, such work may not be counted. If you are making little income, the work may not be counted. If you successfully return to work, you may still be eligible for benefits during the time that you were disabled or you may be entitled to a Trial Work Period. All these rules are very complicated; you really need to speak with a lawyer for your individual circumstances


  • I WAS DENIED AND THEY SAID I COULD APPLY AGAIN LATER; SHOULD I APPEAL OR JUST APPLY LATER?
    If you do not appeal, you may lose some benefits. If you believe you are disabled, you should be very careful about deciding not to appeal. This is a very important decision and the decision to "just apply later" should be made very carefully and only if you are sure that you understand all the consequences of not appealing. Also, there are time limits in which to appeal and it is very important that you appeal within the time limits. We can help you with the appeal papers.


  • I DON'T THINK I CAN AFFORD A LAWYER.
    No lawyer can charge or collect a fee for representing you in a Social Security case unless they represent you and they win the case. You cannot be charged for consulting with a lawyer. If the lawyer wins the case, most typically the lawyer will be paid out the past due benefits.


  • WILL I QUALIFY FOR MEDICARE?
    Any person on SSD who has been in pay status for 24 months is eligible for Medicare.


  • I AM GETTING A SETTLEMENT FROM AN ACCIDENT CASE, WILL THAT SETTLEMENT REDUCE MY BENEFITS?
    SSD benefits are not reduced by any asset (with the exception of a Workers Compensation settlement-- see below), as SSD is based on the funds you have paid into the system. However, there are asset and income limitations for SSI.


  • I AM RECEIVING WORKERS COMPENSATION BENEFITS, WILL THAT REDUCE MY BENEFITS?
    The amount of your Social Security benefits may be reduced if you are receiving workers compensation. However, it is not a dollar for dollar reduction and there is a certain amount that is a minimum payment, so you will almost always benefit by receiving Social Security benefits, in addition to the eligibilty for Medicare. Again, quite complicated, so you want to speak to a lawyer about your particular circumstances.


  • I ALREADY SETTLED MY WORKERS COMPENSATION CASE, WILL THAT SETTLEMENT REDUCE MY BENEFITS?
    Your monthly benefit amount may be reduced as a result of the prior settlement. This is quite complicated and there are several factors that determine both whether there is a reduction and the amount of the reduction. Again, you will almost always benefit, nevertheless, by obtaining the Social Security benefits.


  • MY CONDITION IS NOT LISTED; CAN I STILL QUALIFY?
    People with conditions that are not listed can still qualify. The Administration must consider all conditions and the combined effect of such conditions, as well as your age, education, work experience and your limitations caused by all of your conditions, as well the effects of pain.


  • HOW DO I GET MY MEDICAL RECORDS?
    In the State of Connecticut, medical providers may not charge for providing records if the records are for a Social Security claim. Doctors may charge for reports, however. If you provide a properly signed authorization for the records, you are entitled to a copy of your records (with some possible limitation to that based on records involving severe psychiatric issues). Also, the Social Security Administration has an obligation to obtain the medical evidence regarding your disability. However, they do not always obtain the medical records and seldom obtain critical opinions from treating physicians regarding residual functional abilities. Obtaining the records necessary to properly present your claim is clearly one of the most important parts of your claim. In other states, the law is different for obtaining medical records. Here is a listing of the fees for obtaining records for other states:


  • MY DOCTOR TOLD ME I AM DISABLED; WHY WAS I DENIED?
    Any one doctor does not make the decision as to whether you are disabled. That decision is made by the Administration and if you have to go to a hearing, by the Judge. Does that seem unfair? Well, maybe, but on the other hand, if you can't get your doctor to say you are disabled-- and some doctors don't like to weigh in on this issue, that does not mean that you are not disabled, because it is up to the Administration, so it cuts both ways.


  • DO UNEMPLOYEMENT BENEFITS AUTOMATICALLY DISQUALIFY YOU FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY?
    A judge may not disqualify you for Social Security disability benefits simply because you have collected unemployment; the judge must inquire into all the facts and circumstances around your collecting unemployment and applying for disability. However, different Judges in Connecticut look at this issue very differently. Do not assume that it is therefore fine to apply for Unemployment while also applying for Social Security. You should consider this carefully and consult with an attorney on this issue and your particular circumstances.


  • HOW MUCH WILL MY BENEFITS BE?
    Your benefit rate is based on how much you have paid into the Social Security system for SSD benefits. Social Security can tell you exactly what your monthly benefit rate will be. For SSI benefits, the maximum payment is currently $710.00 per month, but that may be reduced by the value of housing or food that you receive from someone else for which you do not pay. Benefit Amounts


  • ARE THERE ANY OTHER FORMS OF ASSISTANCE AVAILABLE ONCE I HAVE BEEN FOUND DISABLED?
    In addition to food stamps, there are two programs possibly available in Connecticut, if you qualify. Both are for low income persons. One is a State of Connecticut program called State Supplement.It provides additional funds for eligible persons. The eligibility requirements are here: State Supplement. The other program is QMB Program ("Qualified Medicare Beneficiary". That program helps with the cost of medicare. The eligibility requirements for that program are here: QMB.


  • WILL THE JUDGE TELL ME THE DECISION AT THE TIME OF HEARING?
    Most of the time, the Judge will not announce the decision at the time of hearing. It typically takes a few week or a month to receive the written decision.




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