Here’s what you can do:
Do not call, write or visit any Social Security office unless you check with us first.
Client Telephone Calls. We represent hundreds of people at one time. We have attorneys and staff who are specially trained to assist you. Staff are able to answer most questions but are NOT authorized to give legal advice. Let us know the purpose of your call so that we can respond appropriately.
Client E-Mail and Other Communications. We generally find it more efficient to respond to e-mail messages or other “written” communications from clients. If you have access to a computer, please visit our web site (http://ModicaLawFirm.com) and e-mail us.
Appointments. Although we enjoy seeing our clients, please do not drop by our office without an appointment. When you call to make an appointment, please tell us what you want to discuss so we can plan appropriately. When you come in for an appointment, bring all important papers.
Change in Work Status. If you return to work, communicate with us immediately.
Change of Address. If you move, change your telephone number, or are leaving town for a period of time, please let us know how we can reach you.
Change of Condition. If your condition changes in any significant way (e.g., you are hospitalized or develop new problems), please communicate with us.
Health Insurance Coverage & Medical Treatment. Maintaining health insurance coverage–and getting appropriate medical treatment–is very important, particularly until you are eligible for Medicare. We encourage you to explore whether you are eligible for “affordable” health insurance coverage under a federal law known as the Affordable Care Act. Residents of New York can learn more by visiting http://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/
Unemployment Insurance. When you seek unemployment insurance [“UI”] benefits, you are telling the world that you ARE well enough to work but cannot find work. When you seek SSD benefits, you are telling the world that you cannot perform your job or any other job given your age, education and work history. As you can imagine, collecting UI can be inconsistent with your claim for SSD benefits. Please communicate with us before you file for UI benefits.
Legal Advice. Do not get legal advice from your friends, neighbors or your doctor. Do not discuss your case or compare it with others, as no two cases are alike. Because you have asked us to represent you, any advice on your case should come from us.
Keep a File Related to Your Case. Keep a file with all important papers related to your case.
Loans. It is illegal and unethical for us to make loans or give advances on anticipated payments. We are sympathetic, but we cannot violate the law.
Letters from Social Security. When you receive these, communicate with us.
Referrals by Treating Physician. Communicate with our office if your treating physician refers you to another doctor (specialist) for testing or treatment.
Hearings. Not all cases require a hearing to be resolved successfully. If a hearing is necessary, prepare a “head to toe” description of all the difficulties you are having. We will meet with you several days before so that you are prepared fully to testify.
IT OFTEN TAKES 20 MONTHS OR MORE FOR A HEARING TO BE SCHEDULED FROM THE DATE THAT THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION [“SSA”] ACKNOWLEDGES THAT WE HAVE REQUESTED A HEARING. SSA WILL SHORTEN THE WAITING PERIOD IF YOU HAVE A DIRE FINANCIAL NEED AS THEY DEFINE IT. IF YOU EXPERIENCE A DIRE FINANCIAL NEED, PLEASE PROVIDE US WITH THE SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION SO THAT WE CAN ASK SSA TO MOVE UP THE HEARING DATE.
Disability Certificates. If you receive a Return to Work slip from your treating physician, DO NOT give it to Social Security. Give us a copy. If you feel you are unable to work, be sure to discuss this with your doctor and, if possible, get an appropriate letter.
Waiting Period. You will NOT be paid for the first five (5) months that you are disabled, even if the Social Security Administration grants your application.
Workers’ Compensation. If your disability was caused by work, then you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation [“WC”] benefits. Be sure to check with us if this applies to you. Depending on the amount of WC benefits you collect, your SSD benefit may be reduced. If we are NOT representing you in your WC case, get us documents that show the amount of WC benefit you are receiving.
Bankruptcy Proceedings. If you are contemplating filing for bankruptcy, consult with us before filing. This is VERY important if you have a personal injury lawsuit.
Waiver of Certain Obligations. As a result of your disability, you may be eligible for certain additional benefits (e.g., waiver of your obligation to make student loan, mortgage, credit card or car payments). You also may be eligible to draw pension funds early and without penalty. Consult with your insurance agent or other appropriate person. For information about federal student loan discharges, visit http://www.disabilitydischarge.com/Application-Process/. For information about a new matching program for people with disabilities who have federally guaranteed student loans, visit http://www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org/new-matching-program-for-disabled-student-loan-borrowers/
ACCES-VR. We highly recommended that you contact a government agency known as Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR). They will help determine whether there is new work that you may be able to perform given your age, education, work history, skills, physical and mental limitations. They can help you get more education or training so that you are a better candidate for new work. THERE IS NO COST FOR THEIR SERVICES. Here is a link which explains what they do: http://www.acces.nysed.gov/vr
In our experience, engaging with ACCES-VR is always positive. If they help you get more education or training that leads to new employment, this is better than collecting SSD. Depending on when you start this new work, your SSD case still may be viable. If ACCES-VR is unable to find suitable work for you, a Social Security Judge is more likely to approve your application for SSD benefits.
For more information, call ACCES-VR (585) 238-2900 or visit http://www.acces.nysed.gov/vr/rochester-district-office. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU TELL ACCES-VR THAT WE REFERRED YOU TO THEM. SOME ACCES-VR EMPLOYEES BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE REFERRED TO THEM BY LAWYERS ARE NOT GENUINELY INTERESTED IN WORKING.
We appreciate the opportunity to serve you.