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Lawyer Blog: Baltimore, MD

Brian Therrien: How and When to Apply for Disability

1. Your website It has nearly 200,000 people who have maximized their disability benefits or income opportunities. Can you tell my listeners what exactly is the disability digest?

  • The disability digest is a free resource where you sign up, fill out a profile that helps us understand if you’re going through the approval process or if you’ve been through it, then we help you either get your disability benefits or maximize your disability benefits and some of the common things that we help with our disability approval assistance. 

2. How are you able to do that for free?

  • We have over 50 contributors to the Disability Digest that have donated their time  and have provided a lot of the content.

3. If you’re a senior, and you’ve got heart disease, diabetes, cancer or mental health disorders, but you are disabled, how do you actually become eligible to receive Social Security Disability?

  • If somebody cannot work because of a condition or conditions, and as a general rule, they’ve worked 50% or more of the last 10 years and pay their taxes, then the Social Security system operates like an insurance policy, and if you prove that you’re not able to work and you’re successful, then you can get a disability check, which is, in essence, the same benefits package that you would get at the full retirement age of 66 ½, which is your check and your Medicare.

4. If you live to 100, but you began receiving disability before you would have qualified for retirement, do they penalize you for that?

  • No, it’s kind of like “Passing go and collecting $200” you just advance to that benefits package. So when you turn full retirement age at 66 and a half, your check amount stays the same. You have Medicare, all that is just the same. 

 6. So if somebody is disabled, and you know, they qualify for benefits, and they applied to the Social Security Administration, do they automatically get the benefits? what is required for them to do to at least get started? And what do they have to prove to qualify?

  • “Automatic” and “Social Security” are not really synonymous.  There’s a lot of people that are legitimately disabled medically, that unfortunately, don’t get approved.  It’s really evidence-based and what I encourage people to think about is not what they may feel that they’re entitled to, but what evidence do they have to support it.  

7. What if someone has medical documentation, are there certain factors that they look at when determining whether or not a person is going to get the benefits?

  •  If you’re under 50 years old, then you need to prove that you are not able to do any job in the US economic system, regardless of what you’re currently doing. 

8. Do most seniors beginning in the early 50s who have a legitimate disability get approved initially?

  •  32% nationally get denied initially, but if you don’t get approved there, you can appeal it. There’s a reconsideration phase 11.9% of the cases get approved there, then cases go to hearing and 60-70% of those are approved. 

9.  If you have to appeal, you may have to wait a couple of years until your legitimate case is actually approved and they start getting benefits?

  •  Yes, it could take 2-3 years to get approved on appeal. They may get back pay to the original date, but only if the judge agrees on the date of the diagnosis and start of treatment.

10. What about the person who is diagnosed with stage four cancer, is that person most likely going to get approved or there’s some process that expedites their approval because of this catastrophic problem? 

  • There’s major categories of listings for major ailments including heart attacks, autoimmune, bad backs, cancer being one of them, and they should be approved right away. 

11.  Do most seniors eventually get approved?

  • Yes, if they have all the key ingredients for a good case for sure.

12. If somebody has been approved, and they are getting benefits, can they still work part-time and get their benefits?

  • Yes,  you can earn up to $910 a month without having any impact on your benefits. 

13. So if a senior is listening right now, and they’re disabled, how do they apply for social security? 

14. If someone’s gone to your website, applies, and is still denied, and they have to appeal before and go before an administrative law judge. Could they also get an attorney through the disability digest?

15. What are the top one or two tips that a senior should take away from this podcast?

  •  Don’t have an entitlement attitude, and don’t have an “autopilot approval” mentality where you  just apply and wait to see what happens. You need to take ownership and if your condition doesn’t allow you to, get somebody to advocate for you.  

“The most common thing that I see that is problematic in the system is people wait too long before they apply. And these benefits do expire. If you take a look at somebody in their early 50s and they get injured when they’re 50, for example, but they choose not to address anything until they’re 56. So those benefits have likely expired.” —  Brian Therrien


To find out more about the National Injured Senior Law Center or to set up a free consultation go to or call 855-622-6530


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