Seeger Law

  • 1302 North Cleveland Ave.
  • Loveland, CO 80537

Phone: (970) 744-4810 / Fax: (866) 654-2533

Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00 AM - 5:00 P.M.

Phone: (970) 744-4810 / Fax: (866) 654-2533

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?

    Many people ask about the difference between the benefits a claimant can receive under the Social Security disability program (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

    While there are many differences between the programs, and your situation is different that that of everybody else, a few main differences are apparent. First, the SSI program in much like a welfare program to provide assistance to those who are disabled, blind and those over the age of 65. The SSDI program on the other hand provides benefits to disabled people who have paid into the system for 20 of the past 40 quarters. The SSI program has no requirement for payment into the system for 20 of the past 40 quarters.

    Both the SSDI and SSI programs require that you establish that you are “disabled” as the term is defined by the federal statute and regulations. The term “disabled” is a term of art, and requires careful preparation of medical evidence, and presentation of your testimony, to meet the specialized requirements under the law.

    In order to receive SSI benefits, there is also a means test, so that you will not be eligible to receive SSI benefits if you have assets valued in excess of $2000 for an individual or $3,000 per couple. This excludes, for the most part, the value of a home or a car that is used for work or getting to medical appointments. There are also income caps for both programs, but the SSI program is more lenient in that it permits more income to be disregarded in order to encourage claimants to work. As a general rule the SSDI program will disqualify you from receiving benefits if your substantial gainful activity (earnings) exceeds approximately $1,000 per month.

    In fact, it is possible for a person to receive both SSI and SSDI if the amount of the SSDI payment is low enough. This amount then will be the SSI amount, plus $20. In addition, SSI payments may be received for the five month waiting period when no SSDI payments are made. Therefore, if you may qualify for both programs, it may make sense to apply for both. Your local Social Security office will normally do this when you apply for benefits.

    It is important to be ready with proof of disability as defined by the Social Security Administration at or near the time that you file for benefits, as many or even most people are denied benefits on their first application. The decision on the initial application often is made within three to four months. The wait for a hearing on appeal is substantial, and normally over a year. It is therefore often best to make certain that your medical information is ready at the time you file for benefits, or shortly thereafter.

    Since your situation is different from that of every other person, it is important that you select a professional who can help with understanding the system, and getting your case prepared in the way that will best present your claim of disability to the Social Security Administration. Their goal is to review your evidence and to determine whether your claim is meritorious. A professional can help both you and them to make this determination, and to support your claim for SSDI or SSI benefits.

    Approved as originally drafted: Nevin A. Seeger, Esq.; Denver, Colorado
    Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice, which may be obtained on request by contacting us through our web site: www.seegerlaw.com

  • Do I need to hire an attorney if I am filing a Social Security Disability claim?

    You do not have to hire an attorney, but is it a good idea? In a word, yes. Getting an award of Social Security Disability benefits is now more difficult than ever. Here are some statistics that should give you pause if you are applying for Social Security disability benefits on your own. In Colorado the state agency that makes the initial determination whether you are disabled (DDS) had a claim approval rate of 18 % several years ago, but now it is 30%.  Many of these claim denials were never appealed by requesting a hearing before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). Of those that were appealed by requesting a hearing the Denver Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) granted 61 % of claims several years ago, but that number recently declined to a 45% favorable rating. The Denver ODAR office dismissed 23% of the cases before it. The statewide numbers are very similar. You can view the most recent numbers at the Denver ODAR office website.

    We formerly encouraged those applying for benefits to make the initial attempt on their own so there would be no attorney fee if the DDS made a favorable decision. Of course some claimants such as those with mental health impairments have needed assistance at the DDS level and that assistance was encouraged. Then if there was an unfavorable DDS decision we would enter and assist at the hearing before an ALJ later.

    Due to these changing, and challeinging, numbers we are now encouraging people making claims before the Social Security Administration to strongly consider retaining counsel at the DDS level to assist with the initial application for Social Security disability benefits. We can help with gathering medical evidence from your providers, getting functional capacity evaluations from your physicians if needed, and assisting with preparation of forms if you do not understand them.

    Please fill out our interactive contact form on this web site and we will get back to you promptly to discuss your Social Security disability claim, give you a free evaluation of your case and let you know what we can do for you. You can also email us at info@seegerlaw.com or call us at (303) 996-0700.

    Nothing contained on this web site should be construed to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney client relationship. The relationship is only created by written agreement signed by the client and the law firm.  Please contact us for a conference to further discuss your claim.

  • What Can I Do to Help My Own Claim?

    The first and most important thing you can do is to see your doctor or other medical provider regularly and to do exactly as they say. Be sure to let them know everything that is wrong with you or that hurts. This is not a time to be stoic and hide or minimize your symptoms. Also do not exaggerate them. Follow through with all medical appointments, and take all medications prescribed to you. Do not stop medical treatment or stop prescribed medications without talking to your doctor first. If you do not follow your doctor’s advice your Social Security disability claim may be denied just for that reason. If you miss a doctor’s appointment set up for you by the Social Security administration you should count on your claim being dismissed without further consideration. Be polite to any doctor that the Social Security administration sends you to see.

    If you do not have a doctor you can contact the Colorado Department of Human Services and start the process of seeking help through them by calling or going to their web page. Their web page is:

    http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDHS-Main/CBON/1251575083520

    Click on Services by County for your own county. There are several medical programs for the indigent available, such as CICP, and you may want to see what help you can get with that. Also check on Medicaid eligibility.

    Here are a few other important things. If you smoke, stop. Your doctor can give you help with this difficult process. If you drink too much, cut down or stop. If you use illegal drugs, stop. All of these factors may be considered and go against you at the hearing. Ceasing to use marijuana, even though legal in Colorado, is recommended as far as having a federal judge look more favorably at your case. Consult your doctor first.

    When you make a claim at any level of the process check to be sure all of your medical records are included in your file for consideration. It is not uncommon for your file to be missing one or more important medical records.

    Please fill out our interactive contact form on this web site and we will get back to you promptly to discuss your Social Security disability claim, give you a free evaluation of your case and let you know what we can do for you. You can also email us at  info@seegerlaw.com or call us at (303) 996-0700.

    Nothing contained on this web site should be construed to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney client relationship. The relationship is only created by written agreement signed by the client and the law firm.  Please contact us for a conference to further discuss your claim.