Frequently Asked Questions

What does Social Security disability mean?

Social Security considers an adult disabled under Social Security rules if: The adult has a physical or mental impairment (or combination of impairments) that prevents him or her from working, and that has lasted or can be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death. Unlike other programs, Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability of less than one year. Disability can be paid, however, for a closed period for those who were disabled for greater than a year and then able to return to work.

How do I apply for Social Security disability or SSI?

You may call your local Social Security office (Athens: toll free 866-964-7431; Cleveland: toll free 855-207-4867) or click on the following link:

I just got my first denial. What should I do?

Call us right away! We can schedule an appointment for a free consultation, interview you and help you move onto the next step in the appeal process. You only have 60 days from the date of a denial to appeal a decision!

I just got my second denial. What should I do?

Call us right away! We can schedule an appointment for a free consultation, interview you and request a hearing for you. You only have 60 days from the date of a denial to appeal a decision!

Why should I hire a local, experienced attorney rather than the “advocates” I see on TV?

Many of the “representatives” or “advocates” who advertise on TV are not Attorneys at all and you will never see them or speak with them. Many of the representatives on TV or with 800 numbers are not even located in this state. It is not unusual to be in the waiting room at the Hearing Office and hear an attorney or “representative” call out the name of a client, just 30 minutes before a hearing, because they have never met! Don’t let this happen to you.

How long does it take before a decision is made on my disability claim?

It can take anywhere from a few months to more than two years, unfortunately. After an initial application is submitted, within two to six months most applicants receive a denial on their initial claim and must file a “Request for Reconsideration” within 60 days of their denial. It may take another 2 to 6 months or more before most claimants receive a second denial. Then a “Request for Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge” must be filed. This request must also be made within 60 days of a denial. Once a hearing has been requested, it currently takes approximately 15 to 18 months before a hearing is scheduled, though the wait time has varied in the past. In some cases an expedited hearing can be requested under tightly defined guidelines.

How much does my lawyer get if I win?

The Social Security Commissioner determines the fee for a representative. Currently the standard fee agreement allows your attorney to receive 25% of your back pay amount or $6,000, whichever is less. In other words, the fee is 25% of total back pay up to a maximum of $6,000 at the present time. The commissioner may raise the limit at any time to adjust for inflation. Expenses paid (mostly medical records) by the attorney are separate from the fee and must be repaid by the claimant. In Mr. Hutson’s office, these expenses are usually under $100.00 and in most cases we would not ask for reimbursement until after you have won your case and received your back pay.

How much do I owe if I lose?

Nothing! Mr. Hutson only receives a fee if the case is won. He and his staff will work very hard to win your case or he receives nothing.

Is it important to have an attorney who lives in my area?

YES. If you sign a contract with an attorney or other “advocate” without visiting their office, you may be hiring a company from another state. Don't make this mistake. These representatives will not meet you in person and most likely will not be at your hearing. They might attempt to get a local attorney or non- attorney who may not have a clear understanding of your case to represent you at a hearing. You can be sure, however, if Mr. Hutson is your attorney, Mr. Hutson will be at your hearing and well prepared.

What is my time limit for appealing a decision?

You have sixty (60) days from the date printed on the denial letter to appeal each denial on your disability claim. If you miss your deadline, you must have a good reason before Social Security accepts a late appeal. We have been successful in re-opening earlier applications for our clients. If your appeal is too late and not accepted by Social Security, you must start the process over again. Don't make this mistake!

Do I have to go to a hearing?

Most likely. Administrative Law Judges put a lot of importance on a claimant’s presence at the hearing when making a decision. The judge deserves to see you and you deserve to have your day in court.

What is the hearing like?

Hearings are private and closed to the public. Only you, your attorney, the judge, a court reporter and a vocational expert are usually present at a hearing. The rooms are fairly small. Sometimes claimants have witnesses with them for testimonial support, but this is somewhat rare.

What is the difference between disability (SSD) and SSI?

There are two disability programs from which Social Security pays claimants. Title II disability benefits are available to those people who have worked long enough and recently enough to be eligible for payments based on their income history. Title XVI (SSI) disability benefits are available to those people who have not worked long enough or recently enough to be eligible for Title II benefits and who have little or no other financial resources such as a working spouse, relative, or other household members. Sometimes people are eligible for both Title II and Title XVI benefits.

How much money would I draw each month?

The Social Security Administration calculates monthly disability benefits based on your prior income history. The following link will help you:

Can I work while applying for disability?

Generally, you can work full-time for up to three months during the application process. If you stop working due to your impairment during that period, your work may be considered a “failed work attempt” and will not affect your disability claim. However, if you work longer than three months or it appears your disability is not a hindrance to your work, you may be in jeopardy of losing your disability claim.

Will my children draw benefits if I am found to be disabled? Possibly. If you are found to be disabled, your children under age 18 when you became disabled might receive back pay benefits and/or monthly benefits.

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Specializing in Social Security Disability

Representing the disabled in McMinn, Bradley, Meigs, Monroe, Polk and Loudon Counties since 1983