Bruce Billman with Client in Winchester OfficeIf you have a disability or illness that prevents you from working, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The process of applying for disability is complicated.

One mistake could result in your application being denied. Most Social Security applications are denied.

Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability?

There are a few questions you can ask yourself to test your case.

Do You Feel You Are Unable to Work?
The answer to this question might not be as simple as you think. There are many misconceptions about Social Security disability. Just because you have a diagnosis that is listed under Social Security Administration (SSA) regulations, doesn’t mean that you automatically qualify for benefits.

The real question isAre you able to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week consistently and reliably?”

Here are some additional qualifications that you need to consider:

  • Your condition prevents you from doing your job.
  • Your condition requires consistent, aggressive medical treatment
  • Your disability prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity in any other field.
  • Your disability is terminal or has lasted/will last for at least a year.

Even if your condition is not listed under SSA regulations, you are not necessarily disqualified. If you can prove that your condition — or combination of conditions — is equivalent in medical severity to one that is listed under SSA regulation requirements, you may still be considered as disabled. Learn more about the basic understanding of disability as defined by SSA.

Can you work at anything?
If you are able to do any job, full-time consistently and reliably, even if it is a lesser income than what you were receiving before you became disabled, you most likely will not qualify for Social Security Disability. This isn’t stated lightly or to discourage you, but to be honest and truthful with you up front about the chances you or your loved one has of winning a social security disability case under the current SSA laws and regulations and how if they win, the income would be if they were just working full-time, even at a position that pays close to minimum wage.

Do you see a doctor regularly or recently?
An individual who claims to be disabled must PROVE to SSA that he or she cannot work consistently or reliably due to a medical condition. Good, aggressive, regular medical care is the strongest evidence that can be supplied to a judge to prove your case. If you are not working with doctors on a good, aggressive, and consistent basis to improve your health/ability to work, then your chances of winning are weakened. This is true, even if you have a good reason; i.e., no insurance, can’t afford it, fear the treatment will make things worse. . .

Are you confused yet?
Knowing whether to file for disability with SSA can be a difficult and confusing decision. But if, in your heart of hearts, feel you are unable to work full-time, consistently, and reliably, and see a doctor regularly for your condition or conditions, then you have the basis for a claim. Exploring your chances of winning the case with a qualified and experienced representative or attorney is now your next decision – one that could impact the rest of your life or the lives of your family.

Schedule a FREE consultation today to learn more about your chances of winning.

What Is and Isn’t Disability Under the Social Security Disability Act: Myths and Misunderstandings Debunked.

(Approximately 2 mins)

A Little More About the Social Security Disability Process

Although the Social Security Administration is a federal agency, they currently have a contract with each individual state to do the actual evaluation of disability. In Virginia , this is done by the Virginia Department of Vocational Rehabilitation – Disability Determination Service (DDS). This means that when your application is finalized at SSA, the file will then be electronically transmitted to DDS to begin evaluating your disability.

The Initial Application Process

Once the application is filed and turned over to Disability Determination Services (DDS), there is some chance that additional forms may have to be completed to provide more information. For example, if you have had work activity; (work attempt, after the day you feel you became unable to work) SSA or DDS will usually require additional details about that work through the completion of a “Work Activity Report.” In addition, they could ask you to describe all of the jobs you have held in the last 15 years by means of a form called a “Work History Report.” Read more on how to apply for social security disability.

At the point your file reaches DDS, they will begin to look at your claim for disability. I need to warn you that the DDS review of your case is very limited. They mostly perform a screening. They do not try to identify each and every person who is unable to work or look at any case in a great deal of depth. They are merely trying to identify the very, very most obvious cases of disability. Generally the review is mostly focused on findings in your medical records (This is why it is important to have regular and recent medical records and submit them in advance. This saves time for you and for them.)

What Does DDS Use To Determine Eligibility?

DDS reviews your case against screening criteria which is geared to finding people with very obvious and extremely severe disabilities. Any condition which does not clearly meet the objective severity outlined in these sections will generally not be granted early in the process.

  • Medical Records – Generally, the review is mostly focused on findings in your medical records. DDS will be paying the most attention to objective test results.
  • Age Matters – If DDS thinks you cannot do any work you had done in the previous 15 years, they would also use other criteria that takes age into account as well. This criteria focuses mostly on people with physical impairments over the age of 50. DDS has a poor understanding how those rules really work. These rules can be tricky and may not always apply in your case.

Contact us today for a free consultation so we can help determine whether you meet this criteria or not.

The Request for Reconsideration Appeal – The 60 day deadline: DON’T MISS IT!!!

If you are denied initially, you must ask for “Reconsideration” within 60 days of initial denial date. If you miss that deadline, you have admitted the denial is correct. That can bar you from claiming disability prior to the date of the initial denial letter ever again. In some cases that might mean you are barred, entirely, from filing for disability in the future. Even if you can file another application, you have to start all over with the Disability Application. Reconsideration is largely a quality assurance process that, again, is limited to review of your medical conditions under DDS screening criteria. Once again, DDS is not trying to find everyone who is disabled. They are screening for the very worst and most obvious problems. If denied initially, it is likely that you would be denied on Reconsideration, too. Eighty-eight percent of all Reconsideration appeals are denied. Read more about the Social Security disability appeals process and how to file an appeal.

That forces you to the next step – a hearing with a Social Security Judge.

The Request for Hearing Appeal and Appearing Before a Judge

Once again, you have 60 days to appeal the Reconsideration denial. DO NOT MISS THAT DEADLINE for the same reasons as above. If you are denied at the Initial and Reconsideration levels, the next appeal is to appear before a judge. Sometimes a case might not fit perfectly into DDS’s criteria. This doesn’t mean that the case is without merit or a person shouldn’t have filed. In cases like these, they are appealed so a judge can meet a person face to face and assess their disabilities. Surprisingly, this is the first and only time a person from SSA will actually meet with you to decide your case. That’s why it is so important to prepare you for your testimony and what to expect once you get into the courtroom. THIS IS PERSONAL!

We also help the judges prepare by briefing the issues and making sure the evidence is in at the earliest possible time. We can also help to reduce the anxieties that come along with appearing before a judge. The best way to do that is make sure you have a firm understanding of the issues and what to expect.

Contact us today for a free consultation to see what we can offer you at this stage.

Why Hire A Representative or Attorney?

Hiring a legal representative will help you avoid mistakes on your application and increase your chances of being approved for benefits. A representative knows what medical evidence, information, and documentation is needed to support a case for disability under Social Security. It is always in the person’s best interest to choose a representative who has the most experience, has a good, personal working relationship with SSA in the area you live in and is well-respected by SSA.

Selecting a Representative: Why It’s Important to Hire Locally

Representatives and/or attorneys who practice in your state or jurisdiction are your best option for handling your case. Here’s why:

  • Local representatives/attorneys are familiar with the judges that will hear your case.
  • Local representatives/attorneys can meet personally with your doctors if your doctors are willing to help.
  • Local representatives/attorneys will be able to meet with you, in person, from the beginning, through handling all aspects of filing applications and appeals, to (if it comes to it) personally preparing you for your hearing. They will see you, learn who you are, and how best to represent you.
  • You don’t want to meet your representative or attorney 2 minutes before you walk into the hearing. You want someone who knows you, knows your case, and has met with you and thoroughly prepared you and someone you have confidence in because you know them.

What Are the Most Important Factors Social Security Considers When Reviewing a Disability Claim? Watch Video (approx. 2 1/2 minute video).

Our legal team has handled Social Security cases in the Winchester, Richmond, Fredericksburg, Northern Virginia, and West Virginia areas and can provide you with assistance and guidance you can trust.

We have the experience and ability to provide you with an honest assessment of your case.




Social Security disability attorneys do not charge up-front fees. They do not “bill” you for their time. The federal government limits how much a Social Security disability attorney gets paid. Social Security disability representatives work on a contingency basis, which means they only receive a fee if and when they win the case. SSA will only approve fees that they feel are reasonable for the claimant.

Additional Resources