(Transcript)

Cindy Speaker:  Good afternoon. Welcome to our live broadcast today. My name is Cindy Speaker. I have with me as my guest Attorney David Daggett of Daggett Shuler, Attorneys at Law.

David Daggett:   Hello Cindy.

Cindy Speaker:  How you doing?

David Daggett:  Good, good. Good to be with you today, thank you.

Cindy Speaker:  Absolutely. Always good to have you. What we’re going to talk about, navigating the system of Social Security Disability. So let me start off and say this, suppose I’m recently disabled. At what point should I start the process of applying for Social Security Disability?

David Daggett:  Well, you should start the process first inside your own mind because here’s what happens is most of us take some our pride from working and we tend to be a little embarrassed to file a Social Security Disability claim. And quite frankly, the system hasn’t helped us with that because the system has made people feel like they’re taking advantage of the system or getting a freebie or something like that. The first point that I like to emphasis to people is, Social Security Disability is an insurance policy. On your paycheck stub you have the FICA line. Part of that is an insurance premium that gets paid into the government for their disability system. This isn’t a give away. It’s not a handout. It’s very hard to get, so nobody can cheat the system. But it’s just like if you buy a life insurance policy and somebody dies you expect to be paid on it.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett:  This is an insurance policy. Once, and you’ve been paying it in for as long as you’ve been working. And that’s one of the qualifying factors for Social Security Disability, is you have to paid into the system in a recent time period. There’s a lot of technicalities and specifications to that, but sometimes we can go back to somebody who hasn’t worked in a number of years and they still qualify based on what they paid into the system back then.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett:  So, if you are disabled and cannot work, these are benefits you’re entitled to, you have paid for, and you should not feel shy or bashful about applying for these benefits. I’m just emphatic about that because people point the finger at these people and it’s not fair.

Cindy Speaker:  No, it’s not.

David Daggett:  They’ve paid into the system. They’re entitled to it.

Cindy Speaker:  I think that’s a really great point because there’s a little bit, you know, nobody should feel shame for applying to something that they’re entitled to.

David Daggett:  And you know me, I don’t get into politics, but our current political infighting and everything else, Social Security System has been one of the things that everyone wants to attack and fight on. And dog gone it, it’s just not fair.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett:  And it gets me alittle worked up.

Cindy Speaker:  I can see that. Well good. Well good. You’re a strong advocate.

David Daggett: Absolutely.

Cindy Speaker:  Yes. Well, let me ask you this, how do I know if I qualify for Social Security Disability? What is it based one?

David Daggett:  So, Social Security Disability is based on not being able to work in any job.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett:  So it’s not a specific job. It’s any job. For me, for example, a very large part of my job is simply talking. So, you know, if I hurt my leg or my arm or those sort of things, I’m not disabled because I can still talk. I can still do my job. What you go and what you look at is just like anything else job related. You look at experience, background, education, IQ or aptitude and is there a job in the economy that person can work at?

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett:  If the answer is no, you then qualify for Social Security Disability. I will add to that, that once you’re over 50, it makes that a little bit easier because once you’re over 50 there’s an assumption, which I can relate to, is that you’re not quite as adaptable and not quite as hireable as you may have been when you were younger.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

David Daggett:  Does that make sense?

Cindy Speaker:   It does. Let me ask you this, I don’t want to confuse the issue, but at the same time I know in another show we’re going to talk about navigating the system of Worker’s Compensation.

David Daggett: Yes.

Cindy Speaker:  You just said that you have to, with Social Security Disability, not be able to do any job. In Worker’s Compensation, is it a little different or is it the same?

David Daggett: Well, it is a little different because it’s, in Worker’s Compensation it’s doing your job.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett:  The other thing that people have, and this is a close corollary to Social Security Disability, is there are disability insurance policies. Disability insurance policies can either be through your employer or a private disability policy. Sometimes they’re called long term disability policies. Some of those are written to be job specific. Okay?

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett:  So, if you cannot do your specific job as opposed to any job, some of those disability policies you’ll qualify under.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett: Okay. But Social Security Disability, it’s any job.

Cindy Speaker: Okay, okay.

David Daggett:  It’s a tough standard to make.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah, it is. It’s a real tough standard to make.

David Daggett:  Yeah. But it’s not just that you can do the job, you have to be able to hold the job.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett:  So, if you have a condition, let’s say with your back or your heart or whatever, where you can work two hours a day, but you have to take a break every 15 minutes. Well, I may be able to do a task for 15 minutes, but it’s not reasonable that you’re gonna be able to find a job where you can work only two hours a day, make enough money and have to take a break every 15 minutes.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah, yeah. Makes sense.

David Daggett:  So, with a lot of conditions, what we’re able to do, and this is where good legal representation can help, is even though you may be qualified for the task of some job, you may not be able to hold that job.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett: Which is different.

Cindy Speaker:  Yes.

David Daggett:  And if you can’t qualify to hold a job then you qualify for Social Security Disability.

Cindy Speaker: Okay, okay. What kind of documentation, paperwork needs to be gathered in order to apply?

David Daggett:  Right. Well, and that is very, very important.

Cindy Speaker: Okay.

David Daggett: First of all, as soon as you’re disabled or you think you’re disabled, you should file for disability because your disability payments are going to start from the date you filed and that’s gonna be the time period on which future payments are based on. So you file before you have the documentation and paperwork.

Cindy Speaker:   I see.

David Daggett: You file as soon as you believe you’re disabled. On documentation, the important thing is, is that you go to your doctor and you tell the doctor what is bothering you and what is disabling you. We, many times, talk with folks who maybe are disabled, but they’ve never gone to the doctor. The Social Security Department and if it goes before the Administrative Law Judge, they are going to look at the documentation. The documentation is the most important part of your Social Security case. The only way you get that documentation is by going to the doctor.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett:  Take the medications that doctor prescribes to you. Take them according to the prescription. The Social Security Administration does not like drug or alcohol abuse. Those make cases very difficult and can disqualify you.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

David Daggett: The flip side is, is they expect you to follow any prescribed medication that you’re supposed to be taking. You got to make sure that’s documented.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay. Now how long does this process take?

David Daggett: Well, it’s gotten bad. And what happened, and I eluded to earlier, is that the politicians they’re infighting really caused the slow down and the log jam in the system. In our region of the country it’s typically 18 to 24 months from the time that you did your claim.

Cindy Speaker:  Wow.

David Daggett:  And if you, so it takes a long time.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

David Daggett: And it’s very, very, very frustrating. And probably the most frequent question we get asked is very hurtful for us personally, is what do you do in the meantime? And we don’t have an answer. Most hard working people that become disabled it’s very, very difficult to withstand that financially.

Cindy Speaker:  Yes.

David Daggett:  So, you’ve got to turn to family, friends, your church community, other community resources and get by during that meantime.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah.

David Daggett: So there are minimum levels of income you can also earn. So if you are capable of working, for example, earlier of two hours a day to get some income coming in, you will almost undoubtedly be below the income threshold that you can earn and still qualify for Social Security Disability as well.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay, yeah.

David Daggett: And quite frankly, I think that looks good when somebody’s trying to help themselves.

Cindy Speaker:  Right. Yeah.

David Daggett: So we encourage people to try and help themselves.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah, yeah. Now what about getting help with the process. Should you rely on the Social Security Administration?

David Daggett:  No, and we get told things that Social Security Administration has told people all the time. In our part of the country, over 70% of the applications get denied for Social Security Disability. Over 70%!

Cindy Speaker:  Wow.

David Daggett:  So, once that gets denied, you’re going to court. It’s a special court, but it’s a Social Security Disability hearing that’s before a federally appointed Administrative Law Judge. So you’re going to court. And you wouldn’t go to any other form of court without the best representation you can find.

Cindy Speaker:  Yeah.

David Daggett:  So if your case is denied and potentially before that, consult with competent legal representation and get somebody on your side to help you fight this battle.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah.

David Daggett: The good news is, is the fees in the Social Security System are all regulated by the government, okay? So the lawyers aren’t getting rich over handling Social Security Disability cases. The fees are regulated and it’s only based on a percentage or a maximum of the past due benefits. Not any of the perspective benefits.

Cindy Speaker:  Okay.

David Daggett: So you’re really are not losing anything to hire an attorney to help you with the case.

Cindy Speaker:  Right.

David Daggett:  And it was interesting, you know, you see all sort of things in social media. I saw one on Facebook, a long string of how lawyers get thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars of your Social Security case and don’t hire a lawyer because you’ll end up with nothing. I’m like, I don’t know where they get this, but that is 100% false.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah.

David Daggett: I forget what the standard is for 2018, but the maximum lawyer fee is just slightly over $6000, but at the most it’s 25% of your past due benefits. Not anything for the future. So, you’re not paying anything on those future benefits you’re getting at all.

Cindy Speaker: Right.

David Daggett: So legal representation in a Social Security Disability case is not only smart it’s also a good deal.

Cindy Speaker: Yes. Yes.

David Daggett: I encourage people to seek representation.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah. David, if someone has questions, wants to reach out to you, how can they do that?

David Daggett:   Well, there’s a lot of information on our website, www.DaggettShulerLaw.com and then also can call us at 336-724-1234.

Cindy Speaker:  Very good.

David Daggett: Yeah.

Cindy Speaker: Thanks for all the information. Thanks for being with us again.

David Daggett: Yeah, thank you Cindy. Good to see you. Bye-bye.

Cindy Speaker:  You too. For those of you watching, if you have questions or comments, you can leave them right on this page and David will get back to you personally answer your questions. Thanks everybody. Bye.

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