SSD/SSI Handbook

We help Illinois workers with compensation and SSD cases

Things to know about SSD and SSI claims

SSD/SSI Handbook

How Does Social Security decide if I am disabled?

Social Security uses a 5 step sequential evaluation process as described below:

Step 1: Are you working?

If you are, you probably won’t win. Some Social Security information leads you to believe you can work and draw disability but in reality, if you are working, you will be denied. If you are not working, the administration goes to step 2.

Step 2: Is your medical condition “severe?”

If it is found to be “severe” the administration goes to step 3.

Step 3: Does your medical condition meet or equal the official “Listing of Impairments?”

This list describes certain medical conditions that are considered so severe (terminal cancer, heart transplant, etc.) that they automatically mean that you are disabled as defined by law. It also lists other severe impairments relating to different systems of the body: musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, digestive, endocrine, neurological, and psychiatric. If your condition is not on this list, or the medical equivalent of those on this list, the administration goes to step 4.

Step 4: Can you do your past work?

If you can, you will be denied. If you can’t, the Social Security Administration goes to step 5.

Step 5: Can you do any other kind of work at all considering your age, education and work experience?

You have to prove that there is no other work you can do (even minimum wage work) at an SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity) level to be found disabled.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the earliest age that I can receive disability benefits?

A. There is no minimum age as long as you meet the very strict Social Security definition of disability. To qualify for SSD benefits you must have worked typically 5 out of the last 10 years (20 of 40 quarters) to be insured.

Q. I am receiving Social Security Disability benefits. Will my benefits be affected if I work and earn money?

A. It depends. Social Security will tell you that in certain circumstances you can earn some money and still collect your benefits. However, this usually presents problems and many will find themselves getting a letter from Social Security saying they are going to be audited after they have tried to work.

Q. If I receive disability benefits, can members of my family receive benefits also?

A. Perhaps. If you are eligible for SSD, auxiliary benefits may also be paid to your spouse and/or your children. There is a limit to the total amount of money that can be paid to a family on your social security record. The limit varies.

Q. How much does Drummond Disability charge to represent me in my Social Security Disability claim?

A. You do not pay unless we win your claim. The fee is 25% of your back pay if you do win. The 25% cannot exceed $6,000.00 maximum and is usually less.

Q. How long do I have to appeal a denial?

A. The current appeal period is 60 days.

Q. What is a “date last insured?”

A. This is the date that your credits from working expire. That means that you have to prove you are disabled on or before your date last insured to get Social Security Disability.

Q. How many steps are there in an application for disability?

A. There is the initial claim, and if it is denied, an appeal called reconsideration is taken. If that is denied, a hearing can be requested. If you are denied at the hearing, an appeal can be made to the Appeals Council and from there to Federal District Court.

Q. What type of medical coverage can I get if I win my Disability case?

A. If you win your disability claim and have been disabled for a 24 month period, you can get a Medicare card as if you were age 65. If you get SSI only, you will usually get a state Medicaid card.

Q. What happens at an Administrative Law Judge Hearing?

A. The hearings are different and each judge has his or her own methods for conducting hearings. Often the government will call witnesses including vocational experts or medical experts to testify. (Drummond Disability has over 30 years of experience in cross-examining these experts to best optimize your chance of having your claim awarded. We are familiar with each judge’s preferences and usually know what works best with different judges.)

Q. What makes a winning case?

A. There is no clear answer to that question. All cases are different and vary from person to person.

Q. What can Drummond Disability do for me?

A. Our professional staff of paralegals and attorneys are here to assist you throughout the entire process. We will do whatever it takes to win your claim. We will deal with the Social Security Administration on your behalf, and obtain your medical evidence to prove to the Judge that you are unable to work. We have unique forms our office has developed to help you get your benefits faster. You can call us any time to answer any questions you may have about your claim or the Social Security Disability process.

Q. What does it cost to have Drummond Disability represent me?

A. There is no cost to you up front! You do not pay unless you win and fees are limited to 25% of your back pay.

Do I Need a Lawyer

You are not required by the Government to have a lawyer or any other representative.

But, SSA admits that claimants who have lawyers have a better chance of a successful result and, they state. “A representative who is familiar with the Social Security system may provide valuable service to you.”

Answer these questions to determine if you need a lawyer to help with your Social Security Disability claim.

1.Are you prepared to present your case in front of an Administrative Law Judge?

2. Do you have all your medical records updated and sent to Social Security?

3. Have you had any Listing of Impairment forms filled out by treating doctors to prove to the Judge that you meet Social Security’s rules for disability?

4. Are you prepared to question the vocational or medical expert that may be at your hearing?

5. Do you need any witnesses to testify on your behalf?

6. Do you have all the necessary paperwork and do you know your date last insured?

Why should you hire Drummond Disability?

The lawyers and staff at Drummond Disability have the experience and expertise to help you from the beginning of the process through the end or at the stage in between. We will help you with the answers to your questions at any time. The more time we have to work with you, the better our chances are at obtaining the necessary evidence to win your claim. Every claim is different, you need someone with the experience our lawyers have in dealing with the Social Security Administration and fighting for YOUR benefits. Call us now 800-842-0426.

We have won thousands of Social Security Disability Cases.

We can handle all issues and paperwork by phone, in person, or online.

We only charge a fee if we win!

Fees are limited to 25% of your back pay if the case is won. If you don’t win, you don’t pay anything!

If you can’t work, get the benefits you deserve, Call us toll-free at 800-842-0426.

Successfully helping clients with their Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Claims (SSI) for over 30 years.

Our attorneys are professional and knowledgeable about the laws. You do not pay if you do not win! The call is free! 800-842-0426. The consolation is free! Visit us online at


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