Cindy Speaker:  Good afternoon, and thanks for joining us today. My name is Cindy Speaker. I have with me Noell Black, a disability representative with Gardberg & Kemmerly.

Noell Black: Hey, Cindy.

Cindy Speaker: How are you?

Noell Black: I’m doing good.

Cindy Speaker: Good. Always good to see you.

Noell Black:  Thank you, and you too.

Cindy Speaker:  I know you’re keeping busy down there.

Noell Black: Yes, we have been very busy here.

Cindy Speaker: Busy is good.

Noell Black: Yes.

Cindy Speaker:  Means you’re helping a lot of people.

Noell Black: I hope so, yes. Been our goal. We have a lot of clients come in.

Cindy Speaker:  Uh huh, that’s good. I’m not surprised. The word gets around.

Noell Black:  Well, good.

Cindy Speaker: Well, we’re going to talk today about some of the most frequently-asked questions relative to Social Security disability. So let’s start off and talk about if someone becomes disabled, when should they file for Social Security disability?

Noell Black: Yeah, today I just wanted to get back to the basics, and the basics are don’t wait. When you see that you’re unable to work anymore, you have a disability that is causing you to be disabled, go ahead and file now. Social Security process is a long process, as I have said on your show several times. It takes a long time, and so the sooner you get started, the sooner you get benefits. You can call your local office, you can call our office, and you can go online to Social Security’s website, which is www.SSA.gov.

Cindy Speaker: Okay, and what kind of documentation is needed to file a claim?

Noell Black: Well, there’s several things that you’re needing depending on what type of claim that you file. There’s basically two types of Social Security disability, and I’m just getting down to basic explanation here.

Noell Black:  One is disability insurance benefits, and that is what you pay into when you’re working, what comes out of your paycheck every week, those tax dollars. The second is supplemental security income, which is the welfare portion, and that is for those who have not worked enough, for children’s claims. And so depending on what kind of case you have, then that depends on what kind of information that you need. If you worked five out of the last 10 years, then you probably qualify for the disability claim under what you paid into, and those applications can be filed online.

Noell Black: I would like to note, and we have a lot of clients that come in with this problem, when you’re on there it asks you a lot of questions. So you need your medications list, you need the different doctors that are treating you, because you have to input their addresses, names, everything. And until you complete that whole application process and see on the page where it says: “Your application has been submitted, confirmation page,” your application is not done. Sometimes people get tired, they’re missing information, so they log out. It’ll give them a reentry number, but just know until you complete all of that, you have not filed an application for disability yet.

Cindy Speaker: Wow, so it’s pretty extensive.

Noell Black: Yeah, and we do app assist appointments here, in the office, where we help people go online and file those applications if they don’t have access to a computer or have any kind of problems doing that.

Noell Black: The second type of claim we can’t help with. You do have to contact the local office, and you can do it either in person or on the phone. And we always recommend in person because unfortunately, things get lost in the mail when you’re waiting on them to mail you things and you mail it back. Because you do have to supply them with all the same information as you needed in the disability insurance claim, but you also have to give them income information. Because it is under the welfare program, you have to show how you’re paying your bills, who you live with, sometimes the income of the people in the household, and savings and checking account, banking information. So I just think that it’s important for people to go and file that in person.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah.

Noell Black: It’s not always an option, but if you can, then that’s what we recommend.

Cindy Speaker: So Noell, can you help with getting medical records?

Noell Black: Yes, that is what we do a lot. We can help get those medical records. We will request those records from your doctor and see what’s in your medical treatment and what your doctors say about your condition. So that’s very important and one of the vital roles that having a representative can do.

Cindy Speaker:Well, that’s a huge role, so it really makes sense to get an attorney’s office involved for this.

Noell Black: You do not have to have an attorney or a non-attorney representative to represent you in a disability case. I am a non-attorney representative, and I think it is in your best interest to have one, because I have been approved by the Social Security Administration to represent people in Social Security claims. And just having that experience, I have been working in Social Security for almost 19 years now, and I just know that it is in your best interest to do that.

Noell Black: When someone has a mental impairment, serious physical problems, or lack of family and social support, sometimes the Social Security process can be just really frustrating. They don’t understand the rules. It can be overwhelming and time consuming. So having a representative allows you to focus on your health and allow them to focus on proving your disability.

Noell Black:  Social Security data, they have some data on their website that actually shows that over half of the initial claims that people file get denied. And in Florida and Mississippi, those states have what’s called a reconsideration phase after that initial denial, and it shows that about 80% of those claims get denied. Alabama has so far been a protocol state, but starting this October we’re going to go back to that reconsideration stage. So it’s just one more step in delaying that process of getting to a hearing. Because at the hearing level is where most people wait to get a representative, and it really shows how much having a representative helps. Because at the hearing level, that’s where about 80% of your cases get approved. So having that representative really can make a difference. And that’s Social Security’s data, not mine.

Cindy Speaker: Yeah, yeah. And how long does this whole process take?

Noell Black: For the Gulf Coast: Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, the hearings offices that we deal with in this area, and that’s for all three of those states, primarily, and several offices, but they all run about the same. Once you file your application, you’re looking at about 60 to 90 days before you get that initial decision. If you have a reconsideration stage, you’re looking at another 60 to 90 days before you get that decision. Once you request a hearing, you’re looking at 12 to 18 months before you get a hearing date.

Cindy Speaker:  Wow.

Noell Black:  Yeah.

Cindy Speaker:  Wow. That’s a long time.

Noell Black: Yeah, it is, and that’s why I say it can be just very overwhelming and frustrating, and that’s where having someone like Gardberg & Kemmerly to assist you in the process can be just a invaluable resource.

Cindy Speaker: Oh yeah, yeah. Well, tell us how they can reach out to you, Noell.

Noell Black:  Well, they can call our office directly at 251-343-1111 or 1-800-332-1529. They can also reach out and message us on the web at www.GardbergLaw.com.

Cindy Speaker:  Well, listen. Thanks so much for being with us today. Always great information.

Noell Black: Thank you.

Cindy Speaker:  Well, to those of you watching, either live or by replay, if you have questions, comments, feel free to leave them right on this page, and I know Noell will get right back to you.

Noell Black: Of course.

Cindy Speaker: Thanks for being with us.

Noell Black: Thank you.

Cindy Speaker: Bye now.