At Hodson & Mullin, we know disabled people need help. Faced with a possible lifetime of great physical pain and a frightening financial future, many are so overwhelmed they don’t know where to turn. At Hodson & Mullin we not only understand, we effectively steer our eligible clients through the Social Security Disability application and appeal processes, with countless successful cases over the decades.
At our firm, a highly experienced legal assistant will spend a great deal of time working with you and gathering records and information to perfect your claim, but your legal questions will be answered by an experienced attorney.
We are registered with the Social Security Administration and when necessary, we appear at actual hearings throughout Northern California to present our clients’ cases effectively, with an eye toward the most favorable outcomes.
Most of our experienced legal assistants are fluent in both English and Spanish, so language is never a barrier to obtaining results.
We are happy to meet with you for an initial consultation without charge to you, and you incur no costs at all unless and until your case is resolved and you receive a settlement or benefits. Schedule an appointment with us today at our Vacaville or Fairfield offices!
Social Security FAQs
1. What does Social Security do for disabled people?
If medically and financially qualified, a claimant will receive a very modest monthly cash payment and public medical assistance- first Medi-Cal; then Medicare. Ordinarily, one must wait until age 65 to receive Medicare; so this is the most important benefit for many people. Each person’s benefit is calculated based upon his or her own earnings record. Every person’s monthly benefit is different.
2. How do I apply?
You can apply in three ways:
- By using the Social Security Website on-line www.ssa.gov
- By going to any Social Security Agency Local office. You do not need an appointment, but one is recommended. You can find your local office on the Social Security Website www.ssa.gov and
- By calling the Social Security National toll free phone number, 800-772-1213.
You do not need an attorney to apply. There is no fee to file a claim for benefits.
3. Do I Really Need A Lawyer?
You can file with no help from anyone or you can get help from friends and family or you can pay someone. There is no requirement that a person be a lawyer or be certified in order to help you file a claim for benefits. This is a highly technical process – like wiring a house or laying ceramic tile, anyone can do it and like anything, you get what you pay for. You may not need “a lawyer” but you do need someone who knows the law, who knows medicine and who knows how the claims process works.
We know how to use the right words to get your claim started the right way. We know how to get the right evidence to the right place at the right time. We know how to get your claim approved in the shortest amount of time.
4. Who qualifies? There are two parts: Financial and Medical
Financial: There are two basic Social Security programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) which is what it says: Insurance – if you have been working full time before you were disabled, you have probably paid enough through taxes to qualify financially, but every case is different. If you qualify, so do minor children you support. A typical benefit is $1,100 per month and additional amounts for minor children in your household who you support. If you win, you can get benefits as far back as a year before the date you first filed. But, every case is different.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides a very small amount of money (less than $850 per month) to people who live at or below the poverty level. If you win, you do get paid for the time you have been waiting to get your case heard.
Medical: There are five hurdles to Medical eligibility.
- Are you working? You don’t have to be bed-ridden to qualify. This is why so many people who get Social Security benefits may not look like they should qualify if you see them on the street. Only you know how you feel and what you can do. Don’t give up hope just because someone else doesn’t believe you.
- Do you have a medical impairment? Basically this means a diagnosis of something that limits your ability to work. Here, unlike Workers Compensation cases, they don’t look at just one injury, illness or consequence. Everything counts. Does pain or pain medication limit your ability to concentrate? Are unscheduled breaks necessary for you? Are you out of breath or fatigued because you can’t sleep? It is the combination of things and what a medical professional says about them that matter.
- Some medical impairments, like blindness and terminal cancer, are so severe that there are special rules and the case may be processed more quickly. There is a long list of these conditions. Every case is different.
- Can you do the easiest job you have done in the past 15 years? They don’t just look at the most recent job you have had. If you have had a sit-down job in the past 15 years, it is legally significant even if you have done heavy labor for the past 10 years.
- If you can’t do your past job, other factors (age, education, job skills and difficulty with English) will make it harder for you to go back into the work force. It does not matter whether you could actually find a job. It is your “vocational profile" and what the medical professionals say your maximum physical capacity is that count.
5. How long will this take?
It is impossible to answer this question. A great deal depends upon the type, the quality, quantity and speed with which medical documentation reaches the Social Security Agency from you. This is a more challenging process than people realize. The single biggest reason claims are wrongly denied is that the decision maker does not have all of the right facts. Many people try going it alone; they get denied initially and give up. Being in pain, having more bills than money, being alone while facing a big government agency are too much for most people. At Hodson and Mullin, our clients are never alone. We do not give up. We get the records. We talk with your doctors, your co-workers, your friends. We wrap up the evidence in a package the Social Security Agency needs to see. We take on the Agency so you can take care of your health and your family.
6. Why Hire Us?
Peace of mind. This is your life, your future. You are ill, in pain and on very shaky financial ground. Right now, it takes all you’ve got to do the simple things that need to be done to get through the week. From the first Hello to the Final Handshake, we will take this burden off of you.
7. What Does it Cost?
There is no fee to consult with our Social Security lawyer either over the phone or in person to decide what is right for you. Hodson and Mullin will advance whatever costs are needed to get copies of medical records and reports. We expect you to re-pay the costs advanced whether you win or lose, but there is no attorney fee unless you are successful. We do not ask for a retainer to cover costs. If you are successful, the fee is a maximum of 25% of your back benefit – but there is a cap of $6000. The back benefit is different for each person so there is no set fee.
8. What Exactly Will Hodson & Mullin Do?
We will be there every day, every step of the way.
- We consult with you about your situation. It may be best to file right away. It may be best to wait a short time. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
- We choose the very best language to describe your case in the initial applications and reports needed to start the process and get it moving quickly. While there are no “magic words” what you say to describe your case and how you say it shapes your entire claim. No one does this better than Hodson & Mullin.
- We assist you when you need to deal with the Agency. There are forms that only you can complete. Your answers are very important, but they must be your answers. We can give you ideas about what to say and how to say it to help, not hinder, your claim.
- We monitor your claim on a weekly basis to make sure it has not fallen through the cracks.
- We deal directly with Disability Determination Services – the people who are making the important decisions during the initial stages of the claim. We will make sure that they have the right evidence at the right time.
- We obtain the necessary medical records, doctors’ reports and other evidence you need for success.
- If your claim is not approved at one of the early stages, we will prepare you and all of the evidence for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Stephen A. Montagna