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Social Security Disability

man_holding_backIf you are turned down for Social Security disability benefits, it is in your interest to hire a competent lawyer. Persons denied benefits often obtain them after hiring a lawyer.

Your lawyer can:

  • Research the law as it applies specifically to you
  • Assist you in obtaining the type of medical evidence needed to win your case
  • Present the unique factors in your case to the judge at the hearing

Beware of hiring a lawyer who simply “signs you up” and then does nothing more than show up for your hearing! Also consider whether you want to hire an out-of-state law firm found through TV or the internet. The likelihood is the lawyer will never meet you personally until your hearing, and in some cases may send only a non-lawyer “representative” to your hearing!

Hire a lawyer skilled in Social Security disability law. Jim Carfagno, Jr. has more than more than 25 years’ experience handling disability claims, and is a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives . He has handled cases at all levels of the SS disability process (initial claims, hearings before SS judges, SS administrative appeals, and appeals both to federal district court and to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals).

Normally we do not charge a fee unless we win your case. In most cases our fee comes out of your back pay. If you have a claim in Arkansas and are not represented by a lawyer, please call us for a free analysis of your case! Our number is 479-968-4747.

If you are still only at the point of thinking about filing for disability, please read further below.


In order to qualify, you must show that you cannot perform any full-time regular work for at least a year. It is not enough simply to show that you cannot do your normal job.

Social Security disability laws are complex. Often the key question is whether you could perform a lighter-duty job. Your age, education, and physical abilities are all very important factors. In deciding if you qualify for disability, Social Security takes into account all your injuries and illnesses.

Older people with less education have a better chance to obtain SS or SSI. Suppose you are 50 years old, have only a high school education, and now can only do sitting work. Normally you would qualify as disabled. If you were under age 50, normally you would not qualify if you were able to perform sitting work.


Social security disability gives benefits to persons who become disabled before normal retirement age. There are two types–regular SS disability (SS) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Regular SS benefits are based simply on proof that you are disabled, and on the amount that has been paid into Social Security on your behalf while you worked(FICA). You do not receive regular SS disability pay for the first five months you are disabled.

SSI is based on your needs. You still must prove that you are disabled. However, you must also show that your household income and property are below certain levels. There is not a five month waiting period for SSI disability. If you qualify, you normally will get SSI beginning the month after you first call in to apply.nosscr_logo

Some people receive both regular SS and SSI. This happens when the FICA paid in for them is low. Current laws provide that in many cases a disabled person in Arkansas will receive a minimum of $733 a month (SS and SSI combined).

Both regular SS and SSI also provide medical benefits. Medicare comes with regular SS. You do not get Medicare benefits during the first 2 years you receive regular SS. If you qualify for SSI, you will receive Medicaid. Medicaid goes into effect much quicker–it will usually pay for your medical bills from up to 90 days before you apply for SSI.


If you think you are disabled, there is a three-step procedure:

  1. You must first apply, either at your local Social Security office or at Social Security’s online site. Click Arkansas Social Security offices to locate an office near you. If you might be eligible for SSI (see above) you must apply for SSI at the local office rather than online. Normally you will be told within three to five months whether you qualify for disability benefits.
  2. If your initial claim is denied, you can ask for reconsideration. This normally takes another 30 to 60 days. In most cases people lose on their request for reconsideration.
  3. If your request for reconsideration is denied, you can ask a Social Security judge to hear your case. You should also hire a lawyer at this time, if you have not already done so. Cases which have been lost at the first two steps can often be won at the hearing level. The judge has more leeway than the initial examiners. For example, he can evaluate the truthfulness of your testimony and take into account the amount of your pain.

You can also appeal if the judge denies your claim. However, not many appeals are successful. In most cases it is difficult to get the judge’s decision changed. For this reason it is critically important to hire a lawyer skilled in the SS disability process before the hearing.