FAQ about Social Security Disability

 Q: Can I work while receiving Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits?

 A: Yes, but depending upon what program you’re receiving benefits from, your part-time work can affect your benefits so it is important to seek counsel on the issue when beginning work.

 Q: Can I receive disability benefits while working?

A: Yes, but in most situations, if you are earning over a certain amount per month in gross income, Social Security will not even look at your medical condition to determine whether you are disabled. This threshold constitutes “substantial gainful activity” and will generally result in a technical denial of your claim.

 Q: What if I cannot afford medical treatment?

A: It is important to have medical evidence to support your claim. But if you are not treating with doctors because you do not have the money or insurance, Social Security may send you for a “Consultative Examination” to evaluate your condition. Also, our office works to connect our clients with free or low-cost healthcare providers so they can get the treatment they need.

 Q: Does it matter what work I performed in the past?

A: Yes, SSA will determine whether you are capable of performing “past relevant work,” which is defined as “work that you have done within the past 15 years, that was substantial gainful activity, and that lasted long enough for you to learn to do it.” Generally, if it is determined you can no longer perform past relevant work, you still must prove an inability to perform any other work in the national economy. However, in many cases an inability to perform past work will result in a successful disability claim.

 Q: Do I have to pay any money up front?

No. You will not pay us anything unless and until we win your case. In most disability cases, after winning the claim, the client will receive a lump sum of money called “back pay” which is payment for time you were disabled and not receiving benefits. As payment for working on your case, the attorney will receive no more than 25% of your back pay capped at $6,000.00. That means that in almost all of our cases, even if our clients receive $100,000.00 in benefits, our fee will never be over $6,000.00.

Q: How long does the process take?

A: In certain circumstances of dire need, we can get Social Security to speed up the process. However, the average wait time for a claim that requires an appeal hearing is over twenty (20) months.

Q: I heard I can apply by myself without a lawyer so why should I hire an attorney?

It is true that you can apply and in some cases be approved for social security disability benefits without the assistance of a lawyer. However, seventy percent (70%) of initial applications for benefits are denied. If your initial application and reconsideration are denied, you will wait an average of almost two years for an appeals hearing. Hiring an attorney from the beginning will help ensure you are doing all you can to have your claim approved as soon as possible. Of course, many of our clients have applied themselves and come to us to file and argue their appeal. But we would always prefer helping you get your benefits sooner than later.

FAQ about Divorce & Family Law

Q: What if I can’t afford a divorce attorney?

A: If your spouse is more financially secure and better able to afford an attorney, Florida law states that the Court can determine that your spouse be responsible for your attorney fees as well as his or her own. If this is the case, your acquired attorney can tell the judge his or her expected costs for working your case, and the judge can award these (reasonable) costs. In the case that your attorney fees are needed early, you can file a Motion for Temporary Relief.

Q: If I file for divorce, will I get “full custody” of my kids?

A: This is a tricky and loaded question, the answer of which changes depending on the case. Current Florida law states that, in the case of divorce, parents share child care responsibilities unless such an arrangement would not be in the best interest of your kids. This co-parent relationship is intended to ease the discomfort of your children and insure that both you and your spouse have a say in their lives.

If you file for divorce, you can expect to the Court to enter a parenting plan between you and your spouse, outlining time-sharing schedules and your individual responsibilities as a parent. A parenting plan can be agreed upon by the parties to a divorce or entered by the Court after hearing evidence and argument from both sides. Specificity is important in your parenting plan as ambiguity can cause strife and additional tension between you and your spouse. The two of you will also be required to undergo mandatory mediation in an effort to quickly settle child care disputes and make the transition as painless as possible for your children. Your everyday interactions with and knowledge of your children are vital to your case. The Court analyzes your dedication to and relationship with members of your family so that an informed decision can be made regarding your future with them.

 Q: My children’s mother lives in Tallahassee and won’t let me spend time with them. How can I protect my rights as a father?

A: You, as a father, have the right to an active role in your children’s lives. You are entitled to the same parental rights as your children’s mother unless deemed unfit by the court. If you feel that your rights as a parent are compromised, Matt Liebenhaut and the court can offer you a reprieve.

Your written parenting plan is crucial to your rights. If you and your children’s mother agreed on a parenting plan that was approved by the court, she cannot now deny you those rights. If you were unable to agree or are still in the process of forming your parental plan, the court has the power to establish one instead. Both situations include a timesharing schedule that specifies the amount of time your child spends with you.