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What are survivor benefits?

If there is one thing in the world that I wish nobody had to endure, it would be the loss of a loved one. Having to cope with this loss can be emotionally and financially overwhelming.

What does this have to do with Social Security Disability?  Well I was reading on the Social Security website that under certain circumstances you could receive your loved ones benefits if they worked long enough to qualify for Social Security benefits themselves.

This, by no means, makes the loss any better or easier. However, being able to receive these financial benefits can ease the stress that losing your loved one can create.

Who can get these benefits?  This might include the widow or widower, the deceased’s minor or disabled child, and in some cases, the surviving divorced spouse can be eligible to receive survivor’s benefits.

If there are any questions on if you qualify for this type of benefits or any questions regarding Social Security Disability, please do not hesitate to call us at 877-526-3457 or visit our web page at

Jon Corra Bio

Jon has been with Jan Dils Attorneys at Law for over five years. In his current role, Jon is a VA Leads Specialist, and a Social Media Specialist. In December 2011, Jon Received his Masters Degree in corporate Communication from West Virginia University. Jon also has an RBA in Criminal Justice and Communications from West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

In his spare time, Jon is an avid Hockey fan. He loves watching the Pittsburgh Penguins play, and tries to make it to games in person as much as possible. In addition to hockey, Jon also enjoys mountain bike riding, watching documentaries, and spending time with friends.
When describing his employment with the firm, Jon Stated the Following: “I was drawn to Jan Dils Attorneys at Law because of their work with Veterans. I admire those who serve our country so much, and really enjoy interacting with Veterans. I never imagined that while working in this firm, I would get to know so many unique individuals.”

A Simple Guide to the Social Security Timeline

I was just interacting with one of our Social Security clients who received a favorable decision after two and a half years. He was happy and relieved to finally get his

get this good news. This made me think about a question that we receive from a lot of our clients. They often ask me: “How long does a Social Security Claim take?”

Most often the answer to the question above is simply “a long time.” While that short answer is true, it is not very helpful. It is also important to remember that no two claims are exactly the same. Some people get approved after their initial decision; others take many more years than average. The following timeline is based off our nearly two decades doing Social Security claims. It can be a very helpful tool for anyone going through the Social Security process.

Once you have applied, the process can take two years or even longer. Here’s how the process works:

Initial Application: Once you’ve submitted your initial application with all the appropriate paperwork, the SSA will contact your doctors and get additional information about your medical abilities. It takes 3-5 months for the SSA to process your initial claim. The great majority of initial claims are denied.

Appeals: You then have 60 days to appeal the decision by filing a Request for Reconsideration.

Reconsideration Process: The reconsideration process takes on average another 4-6 months. About three fourths of all claims are denied again at this point.

Appeals: You have another 60 days to appeal this decision by filing a Request for Hearing.

Hearing: It can take 12-36 months to have a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

So, if your claim is denied at the first two levels (most claims are), it can take two years or longer to actually gain approval. While we can’t speed up the Disability process, give us a call today for a free consultation. 1-877-526-3457 You can also fill out this form, and we can contact you.


Jenny Cochran Bio

Jenny Cochran has been with the Jan Dils Team for just over four years. Jenny started out in our Case Management Pod, and recently moved into the role of Outlining Specialist. The one element of Case Management she missed was working with the clients one on one, so writing for our all new blog was a natural fit. Jenny is eager to learn as much as she can as she hopes to go to law school soon. In her spare time, Jenny loves going to concerts, watching Netflix, and spending time with her friends and family. Jenny’s coworkers are quick to point out that she has a fantastic sense of humor and a wonderful personality.

What You Need for Your SSA Disability Interview

As you’re preparing for your Disability Interview with the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are plenty of details you need to be knowledgeable about as well as documentation you need to have prepared ahead of time. The following information is important to have whether your interview takes place in person or over the phone:

Your medical records. This includes copies of X-rays, lab and other test results, treatment plans and other files from your healthcare providers regarding your disabling medical condition. Your providers’ offices usually have all of this information saved and easy to produce for you. The more evidence that proves this condition affects your daily activities and renders you unable to work, the better your chances of approval will be.

Medical release form. This is form SSA-827, which will authorize your healthcare providers to release necessary information to the SSA as they conduct their investigation.

Details about any workers’ compensation awarded. If you’ve received workers’ compensation, you will need to provide documentation such as the date you were injured, claim number, the terms of your settlement agreement, along with proof of any disability payment amounts you have received.

Family information. The SSA will need to know the names and birthdates of your spouse and minor children, along with the dates of any marriages and divorces.


Financial information. This includes your bank account numbers (checking and savings accounts) plus the bank’s routing number.


Emergency contact. The name, phone number and address of an individual the SSA can contact if they cannot reach you after repeated attempts.


Other forms. If you have problems filing for benefits online, be sure to bring a copy of all necessary SSA forms you have not submitted, including the “Medical and Job Worksheet.”


On that note, we strongly recommend keeping a folder with copies of all relevant medical documents, a timeline of events associated with the onset of your disabling condition, along with any correspondence you have with the SSA.


For more tips like this and relevant forms that will help you prepare for your SSA Disability Interview, you can request your free copy of Attorney Jan Dils’ book, Getting the Social Security Benefits You Deserve, by clicking here:

Why Medical Care Must Come Before Social Security Disability Benefits

If you believe you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, it’s imperative that you are first under the regular care of a physician and following any prescribed treatments to support your claim. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • The SSA decision makers will be less inclined to believe your disabling condition is serious if you are not being seeking professional care to help you treat or manage its symptoms.
  • Your case is built on documented evidence from licensed healthcare professionals and their credible medical opinions regarding your ability to work. The SSA will not base their decision solely on your testimony.

Finances should not be a factor in receiving adequate healthcare; today, there are an abundance of healthcare facilities that are free, low-cost or will work with your budget or insurance plan to come up with a feasible plan. Another option that may fit your case is a Consultative Exam, a free exam ordered by the SSA to be conducted by a healthcare professional they have contracted for additional medical information.

But again, in disability cases, your chances of success will always be higher with tangible medical records and the opinion of a licensed expert who is familiar with your history and the details surrounding your disabling condition.

If you or a loved one are suffering from a disabling condition and believe you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, contact us today for a 100% free and confidential legal consultation, either by phone or at one of our five West Virginia offices — in Parkersburg, Charleston, Logan, Huntington or Beckley – and Charlotte, NC.

You can call toll free, 1.877.526.3457, or send us an e-mail for a prompt response.

Will the SSA Seize Tax Refunds?

According to an audit by the SSA’s Inspector General, the agency has confiscated around $75 million in tax refunds without giving much of an explanation to many of these individuals.

Last year, when the SSA seized tax returns due to benefit overpayment (overpayment to a lot of these individuals’ parents, no less), officials said they would cease this kind of action. Yet it appears some 300,000 Americans have been affected this year, too—often as the result of overpayments from years ago.

The audit further reveals that the majority of the confiscations occurred for individuals 21-40 years of age. At least eight thousand received no notification before their tax refund was taken.

While this is unfortunate for those who lost their tax refund, especially due to their parents’ overpayments, we hope the SSA will at least provide proper notification in the future so those affected can anticipate and prepare accordingly. If this has happened to you, you should contact the SSA for a detailed explanation.

At Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, our experienced Social Security Disability Lawyers can guide you through the process of applying for SSA benefits or appealing a denied claim. Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation – we will fight for the benefits you deserve!

Does the SSA Send Emergency Payments for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

If you’re eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and need an emergency payment, it would unfortunately take a very unique set of circumstances to qualify.

For one, those who are only eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance cannot receive emergency payments. Only those with low income and few assets to their name will be considered by the SSA.

But in addition to an individual’s financial status, he or she must qualify for presumptive disability benefits – having a disability on the SSA’s list of conditions so severe that someone who has them can pretty much be guaranteed to qualify for compensation.If you’re not sure whether your condition could be eligible, you can ask when you first apply for benefits.

If you wish to have your claim expedited, you may request an expedited hearing due to dire need. Having a dire need means that you are unable to provide yourself with food, shelter, medical care or you have a terminal illness. However, keep in mind that dire need requests are seldom approved unless the latter is the reason.

One route to explore is temporary assistance from the state. If you meet the public assistance criteria and have a condition that severely disables you, it’s definitely worth looking into.

If you or a loved one believe you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, contact us today for a 100% free and confidential legal consultation, either by phone or at one of our five West Virginia offices — in Parkersburg, Charleston, Logan, Huntington or Beckley – and Charlotte, NC.

You can call toll free, 1.877.526.3457, or send us an e-mail<> for a prompt response.

Reporting Changes in SSI

Last week we discussed what changes need to be reported to the Social Security Administration (SSA) if you are receiving social security disability insurance (SSDI) and how to report these changes. This week we’ll take a look at what changes you need to report if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

People you live with
It’s very important to report income or living changes to the SSA if you’re receiving any kind of social security benefits. If you have a roommate that moves in or moves out the SSA will need to know about it. This includes children, so be sure to alert the SSA if your roommate has a baby. Even if one roommate moves out and one moves in, a report is still necessary.
The SSA needs to know this because the people you live with can affect how much “in-kind” income you have.
Living arrangement
The SSA needs to know if you move into a nursing home or any kind of assisted living facility. In some states you will need to report if your cooking facilities or share of living expenses changes.

If you start or stop receiving benefits other than SSI you must notify the SSA. Also, you need to report if you begin to collect money from any kind of employment. Changes in your spouse’s income will need to be reported as well.

By law, you are limited to only having access to $2,000 in assets if you are single and receiving SSI. If you are married you can have $3,000. Assets include any cash or money you have in checking, savings, stocks or bonds. If there are any new financial accounts made with your name on it, a report must be filed with the SSA, even if you do not receive money from the account.

Marital status
Getting married or divorced are both changes that need to be reported to the SSA.

Failure to report changes to the SSA could result in your benefits being stopped until you pay back the amount of overpayment or work out a payment plan with the SSA.A penalty between $25-$100 may also be enforced for failing to report changes.

If you purposely mislead the SSA about your living or income situation, you might become ineligible for benefits for six months. You can be ineligible for up to 12 months if you are caught misinforming the SSA twice. For a third offense you can be ineligible for 24 months. In some cases you could be convicted of fraud and face jail time.

If you have questions about what changes you need to report or how to report it, call Jan Dils Attorneys at Law. Call today for a free consultation 1-877-526-3457.

Presumptive Disability

Anyone who has applied for any kind of Social Security benefits will be quick to tell you that waiting is part of the process. At almost every step of the process you can expect some sort of a wait time. This can be problematic for applicants who have a serious and immediate need of help. To assist people in this situation, the SSA created a presumptive disability program.

This programs lets the SSA give temporary benefits to applicants who the SSA presumes will be approved. Presumptive benefits are only available for the first six months of the application process and only through the supplemental security income (SSI) program, not social security disability insurance (SSDI).

To qualify for this program you must meet all the criteria for presumptive disability. Your condition must be so severe that the SSA automatically assumes you are disabled. Here are some conditions that usually qualify for presumptive disability.

  • symptomatic HIV infection or AIDS
  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • low birth weight
  • confinement to bed and required use of a wheelchair, walker, or crutches due to a longstanding condition
  • spinal cord injury with inability to walk without walker or similar device
  • stroke, more than three months ago, with difficulty walking or using a hand or arm
  • muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or muscular atrophy, with difficulty walking, speaking, or using hands or arms
  • severe mental retardation (seven years old or older)
  • end-stage renal (kidney) disease (ESRD) requiring chronic dialysis
  • terminal illness, in hospice, with six months or less to live
  • total deafness
  • total blindness
  • Down syndrome
  • amputation of two limbs or of one leg at the hip

If you’re applying for SSI benefits and are in need of immediate help, you should consider applying for presumptive disability benefits. You can contact your local SSA office for more information or call the Jan Dils Attorneys at Law.