Types of Disability Benefits

October 02,2019
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New York Social Security Disability Lawyers: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is Social Security Disability?

A. Social Security Disability, also called SSD, SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) or DIB (Disability Insurance Benefits), is a benefit received by disabled workers and/or their dependents from the Social Security Administration. Just as you may begin collecting “regular” Social Security Retirement benefits when you retire, if you become disabled and are unable to work before you reach your “full retirement age,” you may apply to collect Social Security Disability benefits. Our Social Security lawyers can help you with your application and answer any questions you have about disability law.

Q. Am I eligible for Social Security Disability payments?

A. You are eligible if you cannot perform any substantial work, due to a condition or combination of conditions that has lasted or is expected to last for twelve months or more. A finding of disability is not made only upon showing you cannot perform your regular work. Your disabling condition(s) may be from any source, such as an injury either on or off the job, congenital illness, or contracted or hereditary disease. Social Security may consider you disabled due to either a physical or mental impairment or some combination of both.

If your condition is extremely severe it may meet a “Listing” level with Social Security, the Administration will find you disabled regardless of your educational and vocational background. If your condition(s) are not of “Listing” level, then the Social Security Administration takes into consideration your age, education, and past work history in connection with your medical problems to determine if you can perform any work.

In addition, unless you are a disabled widow, you must have worked for five of the ten years preceding the date you claim to have become disabled. In order to succeed in your claim, you will need to produce proof of age and legal status (citizenship or legal alien papers).

The spouse and minor children of a disabled worker may also be entitled to benefits. The same is true of a disabled widow or widower, who may be eligible on the spouse’s account, regardless of his or her own work history.

Our Social Security lawyers are happy to advise you as to whether you are eligible for benefits. However, every case is unique, and requires individual, careful analysis, which we can discuss at your free initial consultation.

Q. What if I haven’t worked long enough to be eligible for Social Security Disability?

A. You may still be eligible for benefits under Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.

Q. What is SSI?

A. SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a needs-based program. It is intended for disabled people with very low household income and minimal resources. In determining whether or not you qualify for SSI, the Social Security Administration will consider your assets and income status, including spousal and other household income. People who fall into this category include stay-at-home parents, or young people who have worked little or not at all before becoming disabled.

If we help you to apply for SSI, we will also make sure to correctly characterize support or loans you may be receiving from family members. Otherwise, Social Security will probably try to reduce SSI payments to “offset” the value of living expenses covered by family members who are helping you out.

Click here to learn more about the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI.

Q. How long should I wait before I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

A. You should file for benefits as soon as you become disabled, if you expect your condition to last at least twelve months. Don’t make the mistake of waiting. Your retroactive benefits can only go back one year from the date of your application. You do not need to wait until other, related claims such as Workers’ Compensation or a personal injury lawsuit are settled. Moreover, you should not wait until your resources are low. Your claim will take months or possibly years to resolve. Remember, your SSD benefits are based on your medical condition, NOT on your finances or need.

Q. What are Retroactive Benefits?

A. Retroactive benefits are benefits from the Social Security Administration that you may receive starting in your Month of Entitlement, which is either one year prior to the date you applied for benefits or 6 months after your disability began (whichever is closer to the date of the application). The retroactive period is the period between your Month of Entitlement and the date that the Social Security Administration notifies you of their determination that you are disabled.

Q. If I am suffering from mental illness, can I be eligible for Social Security Disability payments?

A. Yes. Mental illness is a medical condition, and we have helped many of our clients win disability benefits where mental illness was the basis of their claim. It is also important to note that even if a physical condition is the primary reason you are applying for disability benefits, any psychological limitations or conditions may strengthen your claim and should be included.

Q. Do I need a New York Social Security Disability lawyer to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

A. No. Claimants can apply on their own or with help from a Social Security representative. However, the government’s statistics show that claimants with legal representation are far more likely to succeed than those without. Representation by experienced Social Security lawyers will significantly increase your odds.

At Hermann Law Group, we succeed in over 90% of the claims we handle (based on statistics over the past 12 months). The percentage of claims we win at both the initial level and at the hearing level is far above the national averages of claims otherwise approved.

Q. What will Social Security lawyers do for me?

A. At Hermann Law Group, we will review or help you to complete all necessary forms, and we will file them electronically for you—a service that can shorten the wait for a decision. We will contact your doctors and other health care providers in order to collect all the necessary medical information required to prove your case. We will deal with Social Security on your behalf. Additionally, we will make sure that your case moves through the system as quickly as possible.

If your case is appealed to a hearing, we will develop your claims file and make sure that you are fully prepared to testify. Our Social Security lawyers will always be available to answer your questions and provide advice regarding various benefits to which you may be entitled. We will also review your benefits once they are awarded, and make sure that you continue to receive your benefits so long as you are unable to work.

Different attorneys will provide you with different levels of service. The basic job of Social Security lawyers is to prove to the Social Security Administration, based on medical evidence, why you cannot work, and to advocate for you to receive the benefits to which you are entitled.

Q. How do I pay my attorney?

A. Attorneys’ fees in Social Security Disability claims are generally paid out of the claimant’s retroactive benefits.

If an attorney represents you, the government withholds 25% of all retroactive benefits as a possible attorney’s fee. You and your attorney can agree to any payment (for example: a flat fee, hourly charge, or percentage of your award). But in most cases, our office accepts the 25% that the government withholds as the attorney’s fee. At Hermann Law Group, we will not charge you any fee unless we are successful in obtaining a favorable decision for you.

Occasionally, the Administration grants a claimant’s application before there are any retroactive benefits, or the benefit is quite small. In those cases, our Social Security lawyers may ask you for a minimum fee. The Social Security Administration must approve this fee as well.

In order to help our clients manage their benefits & simplify fee payments we offer a FREE debit account. For more information contact us!!

Q. What will my Social Security Disability Benefits be?

A. Your benefits depend on your previous work record, and how much you have paid into the system. Most workers receive a Benefit Estimate and Earnings Record annually in the third month before the month of their birthday. You can also get an estimate of your benefits by visiting the Social Security website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/mystatement/.

If you have children under the age of 18 years, you may be eligible to receive additional monthly benefits for them. You may also receive Medicare Benefits beginning twenty-four months after the first month for which you receive a payment for disability. After our initial consultation with you, we will be able to give you an idea of what benefits your benefits are likely to be.

Q. How long will my benefits last?

A. Your Social Security Disability benefits will last either:

a. until you return to substantial gainful activity for more than nine months and are earning more than the amount set by Social Security, or

b. the government proves that your condition has significantly improved, or

c. you reach full retirement age. When you reach full retirement age, your benefits will continue by converting to Social Security Retirement Benefits.

Q. Can I receive Social Security Disability along with other benefits, such as Workers’ Compensation or Long Term Disability?

A. Absolutely. Your eligibility for Social Security Disability is not affected by any other benefits you may receive. If you are disabled you may also be entitled to:

  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Long-term Disability or some other disability pension
  • State Employees Disability
  • No-Fault and company or union pensions
  • private disability insurance payments, and more

However, the interplay between these different sources is complex and confusing. Some of these other benefits may offset the total payment amount of your Social Security Disability benefits.

An important part of our job as Social Security lawyers is to:

  • review with you all of the benefits for which you might be eligible, and
  • develop a strategy for you to maximize each of these benefits and awards.

This will be a major part of our discussion with you when you meet with us at our office.

Q. Am I allowed to do any work while I receive Social Security Disability?

A. Of course! You can always return to work. However, three factors that determine what effect your work will have on continued receipt of benefits are:

  1. when you return to work
  2. how long the job lasts
  3. how much you earn

Those factors can lead to many different scenarios. Thus, at Hermann Law Group our Social Security lawyers deal with each work attempt on a case by case basis. We are happy to discuss this with you at any time if you are ready to go back to work. We have heard from clients as long as 15 years after a winning claim with questions about working!

You may return to work in what the Administration calls a “trial work period.” During that period, you will receive benefits for up to nine months while you are working. This is regardless of how much you earn. If you show more than nine months of substantial earnings, your Social Security Benefits will cease. However, if you earn less than a certain amount (set annually by the Social Security Administration), it should have no effect on your ongoing receipt of benefits.

We always encourage our clients to try to go back to work if they are up to it. However, we remind them to tell us before they do. That way we can advise them about what is likely to happen to their benefits once they do.

For more information, click here to learn 7 Things You Need to Know Before You Return to Work.

Q. What Happens to my medical benefits if I can’t work?

A. Under a Federal law known as COBRA any employer with more than 20 employees must give an employee who leaves their employment the option to pay for and maintain his or her medical benefits for a maximum of up to 18 months. If the Administration approves you for Social Security Disability during that 18 month period, you can extend your COBRA coverage for an additional 11 months. This way COBRA will expire as your Medicare eligibility begins, giving you continuous medical coverage.

The drawback to COBRA is that it is quite expensive. You may not be able to afford to pay for it. However, low cost medical programs do exist to cover individuals or families who cannot afford or have lost their COBRA benefits. At Hermann Law Group, our Social Security lawyers will help you to identify the programs that are best for you. We will guide you on how to save money on prescription medications.

Click here to learn more about saving on healthcare and medications.

Q. What happens to my other benefits and pension if I can’t work?

A. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. You need to check your employee manual, and contact the Human Resources/Personnel department of your employer or your union. Many employers and almost every union have special pension provisions for disabled employees or members that often depend upon their receiving Social Security Disability. Our Social Security lawyers can advise you regarding this after we meet to discuss the particulars of your case.

FAQs about Applying for Disability Benefits

FAQs about Applying for Disability BenefitsApplying for Social Security disability benefits can be confusing. You may have questions and don’t know where to find the answers. Our Westchester County Social Security attorneys can help you. Let us deal with the legal issues while you focus on your health.

We can answer your questions, including the following:

  • Who can apply for Social Security disability benefits?

Both adults and children can apply for disability benefits; however, the requirements are slightly different for each.

You may apply for adult disability benefits if you:

  • Are 18 years old or older;
  • Are not currently receiving Social Security disability benefits;
  • Are unable to work due to a medical condition or combination of conditions that is expected to last at least one year or result in death; and
  • Have not been denied disability benefits within the last 60 days. If your application has been recently denied, you may be able to file an appeal.

You may apply for child disability benefits if you:

  • Are under 18 years old or a student under age 22;
  • Are not married or a head of household;
  • Have a medical condition that results in marked and severe functional limitations and is expected to last at least one year or result in death; and
  • Have not been denied disability benefits within the last 60 days. If your application has been recently denied, you may be able to file an appeal.
  • How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

You may apply for Social Security disability benefits in a variety of ways, including:

  • Online at the Social Security Administration (SSA) website here.
  • In person at your local Social Security office.
  • Via phone by calling 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call 1-800-325-0778.
  • Through Westchester County Social Security attorneys like us.

The application process can be extremely complicated and may require a significant amount of information. For the best possible outcome, contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer to help you apply for benefits.

  • What information do I need to apply for disability benefits?

Prior to beginning an application for Social Security disability benefits, you should gather all of the information you need to provide the SSA. You will need the following:

  • Your date and place of birth
  • Your Social Security number
  • The name, Social Security number, and date of birth, dates and places of marriage and divorce, and date of death of your current and former spouse(s).
  • Names and date of birth of your minor children
  • Your bank’s routing and bank account numbers
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all doctors and medical providers
  • Detailed information about your medical condition(s)
  • Names and dosages of medications
  • Names and dates of medical tests you’ve completed
  • Income information for this year and last year
  • The name and addresses of your current and former employer(s)
  • Beginning and ending dates of S. military service
  • A list of jobs you’ve held for the past 15 years and descriptions of each
  • Information about worker’s compensation or any other disability benefits you’ve received
  • What documents do I need to complete to apply for disability benefits?

You will have to provide documentation of all the information you provide to the SSA. Some documents you may need include:

  • Birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
  • S. military discharge papers
  • W-2 form(s) or IRS tax returns
  • Medical evidence already in your possession
  • Disability benefit award letters, pay stubs, settlement agreements, and other proof of income

Although you may submit copies of most of these forms, you must provide original identification documents. If you do not have original documents or other information necessary, do not delay in applying for benefits. The SSA will help you obtain any information that they need.

  • When should I apply for disability benefits?

You should apply for benefits when you become totally disabled by a condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Disability, according to the SSA, does not mean you cannot work at all. It simply means that you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity and cannot earn an income of at least a certain amount, which varies each year.

Do not delay in applying for Social Security benefits. Although you may be able to obtain back pay from your date of onset of disability with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you cannot with Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Thus, the sooner you apply, the quicker you will be able to start receiving benefits.

  • How long will I have to wait for a decision on my application?

The process of applying for and eventually being approved for disability benefits can be long and daunting. You can improve your chances of being approved sooner by submitting all of the necessary information to the SSA in a timely manner, continuously seeking medical treatment, and obtaining the help of a Westchester County Social Security attorney. However, despite your best efforts, it can take years to finally be approved for disability benefits.

There are five decision levels through which your application may go if it is not approved. Your application may be considered for a length of time at each level.

  • Initial Determination – It can take between 60 and 90 days to get a decision on your initial disability application.
  • Reconsideration – If your application is initially denied, you may request reconsideration within 60 days. It can take up to 60 days to receive a decision on your reconsideration.
  • Administrative Hearing – If your application is denied at reconsideration, you may appeal to an administrative law judge (ALJ) for an administrative hearing within 60 days. Your claim will be set for a hearing and you will receive a decision between 45 and 90 days after the hearing.
  • Appeals Council Review – If you do not agree with the decision of the ALJ, you may appeal to a council within 60 days. If the council agrees to review your claim, it can take up to 120 days or longer to receive a decision.
  • Federal Court Review – If the appeals council refuses your appeal or issues an unfavorable decision, you have 60 days to file a civil action in U.S. District Court. It can take a year or more to go through the federal court review process.

Although you may have to wait more than a year for a decision on your Social Security disability application, you have a better chance of approval if you continue to appeal.

If you need help with a Social Security disability claim in Westchester County or anywhere in the New York metropolitan area, call the Hermann Law Group at 914-286-3030.

Long Term Disability Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the difference between a private Disability policy and a group, or ERISA, policy?

Disability Claim QuestionsA. A private policy is one that is you purchase directly from an insurance carrier or through a professional organization. A group, or ERISA, policy is one that is offered by your employer, whether you pay some or all of the premiums on it.

The main differences between these two types of Long Term Disability policies are the procedures involved in filing a claim, and which laws govern and control them. In addition, typically a private policy has a fixed monthly benefit amount, while a group policy pays you a percentage of your salary. There are many other differences between these two types of disability policies, so you should educate yourself both when you purchase a policy and if you need to make a disability claim.

For more detailed information about private policies, please click here.

For more detailed information about ERISA policies, please click here.

Q. What is the “elimination” or “waiting period” on a Long Term Disability claim?

A. Every policy sets out a certain amount of time you must wait from the onset of your disability until you may begin collecting benefits. This period of time is called the “elimination” or “waiting” period. Every Long Term Disability policy is different, but the waiting period is frequently between 30 and 90 days.
Your insurance company may determine that your disability began at a later date than you claim, in order to delay payment of your benefits. At Hermann Law Group, we will thoroughly review all of your medical records, in order to prove an earlier onset date of your disability and to ensure earlier payments on your claim. Even when a carrier agrees to make payment on a claim, we always carefully check all of their facts and dates in order to maximize your benefits.

Q. Can I receive more than one type of benefit?

A. Absolutely. Based on your individual circumstances, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability and/or Workers Compensation in addition to Long Term Disability. If you are eligible, you may receive State Employees Disability, No-Fault and company or union pensions concurrently with benefits on your LTD policy. If you have multiple LTD policies, you can also receive benefits on more than one policy at the same time.
There are many different sources of benefits that may be available to you, and the interplay between these sources is complex and confusing. At Hermann Law Group, we will carefully review what you may be eligible for, and make sure that you receive the maximum benefit from each source.

Q. I haven’t applied yet. When should an attorney get involved?

A. NOW! The earlier you hire an attorney, the greater your odds of receiving the maximum benefits to which you are entitled, at the earliest possible date.
If you contact us before you file your initial application, we can help you to make decisions regarding your treatment that can make the entire application process flow more smoothly. Similarly, we can make sure that from Day 1 your health care providers properly document your disability and provide you with the medical records that best prove your case. We will also verify that your application has no mistakes or omissions that could lead to a denial or delay of benefits.
The earlier we are involved, the easier we can make the process for you. It can be extremely difficult for even the most skilled attorney to undo mistakes made at the early stages of an application or claim. Particularly in ERISA cases, your appeal options can be severely limited if you contact the carrier on your own after your claim is denied. Even if you are still working, if you hire us now we can help you to plan your disability claim more carefully.

Q. How is the attorney paid in a Long Term Disability case?

A. Fees in a Long Term Disability claim are not governed by any laws or regulations. Payment is a matter between attorney and client that we at Hermann Law Group handle in different ways depending on the unique circumstances of each person and his or her case.
At Hermann Law Group, we usually ask for a retainer to begin to pursue a Long Term Disability claim on your behalf, plus a percentage of any recovery (either retroactive payments or settlement of the claim). However, in some cases an hourly fee may be more appropriate. An hourly fee may be more logical if you need a consultation to sort out your overall disability situation, or if you require advice on how to deal with an initial application, benefit review or some other circumstance.
In order to help our clients manage their benefits & simplify fee payments we offer a FREE debit account. For more information contact us!!

Q. What should I do if my benefits are reduced or stopped?

A. If your benefits are reduced or suspended, contact an attorney immediately. In order to restore your benefits, you must meet strict time limits as well as procedural requirements, especially in ERISA or group policy cases. Failure to demand certain information can have a long term impact on whether or not your benefits are ultimately restored. At Hermann Law Group, we have the knowledge and experience to make sure that everything possible is done to restore your benefits. If you need specific information from your doctors, or a clarification from your insurance carrier of what has been submitted to them, we will obtain it for you. We feel that it is our job to reduce your stress as much as possible during this difficult time.

Q. What if I return to work while receiving Long Term Disability benefits?

A. Many, but not all LTD policies have a “residual” or partial disability benefit that will pay you a reduced amount if you return to work. This reduced amount is usually based on what percentage of your former income you are earning now.

Some policies also have a rehabilitation provision. However, these provisions need to be evaluated very carefully. We have seen cases where the carrier suspended benefits simply because a claimant expressed interest in the possibility of rehabilitation. At Hermann Law Group, we will carefully review any rehabilitation provision in your policy so that we can best recommend what course of action you should take.

Q. What Happens to my medical benefits if I can’t work?

A. Long Term Disability policies do not relate directly to the continuation of any other benefits, such as medical insurance. If you are covered by a Union plan, if your employer has a specific policy, or if your employment or severance agreement discusses medical insurance, that will determine what happens.
Otherwise, under a Federal law known as COBRA, any employer with greater than 20 employees must give employees who have been terminated or who have left due to a disability the opportunity to maintain their medical benefits on their own for up to 18 months.

If you are approved for Social Security Disability during the first 18 months of your COBRA coverage, you can extend COBRA for another 11 months, until you become eligible for Medicare 30 months after the month in which your disability was found to begin.

However, without your usual source of income you may not be able to afford COBRA coverage. Low cost medical programs do exist to cover individuals or families who cannot afford or have lost their COBRA benefits. For more information regarding these programs click here for the link to our article, “Saving on Prescription Drugs and Healthcare.”

At Hermann Law Group, we will review all of your medical insurance options with you, and help you find and keep medical coverage during this time when you need it most

Veteran’s Disability Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Veterans Disability Benefits?

VA Disability Benefits - VA Disaility AttorneyThe U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides disability benefits to veterans who have suffered a service connected disability. Benefits are also generally available for a person whose pre-existing condition was made worse as a direct result of military service.

The process can be daunting for veterans who are unfamiliar with it. While we provide basic information here, a veteran or dependent seeking benefits should seek the counsel of an experienced veterans disability benefits attorney immediately after receiving an initial determination from VA.

Am I Eligible for VA Disability Benefits?

It depends. In order to be eligible for disability benefits, a former service member must show that he or she:

  • Has been honorably discharged or otherwise discharged under honorable circumstances;
  • Suffered a service connected disability or exacerbation of an existing injury or illness while on duty;
  • Continues to suffer a disability; and
  • Can prove the connection or “nexus” to their military service.

How Do I Apply for Benefits?

In order to obtain benefits, a person must file an application with the VA either electronically or by mail. In addition to the completed application form, the claimant must also provide supporting documentation to establish eligibility. That includes medical and military records as well as dependency documents for your spouse and children. While the VA is supposed to make efforts to seek out this documentation, a claimant is well advised to gather and submit the required evidence to ensure that it is reviewed along with the application.

How Does the VA Determine the Amount of My Benefits?

The VA rates each successful claimant’s level of disability on a scale typically ranging from 10 percent disabled to 100 percent disabled. According to current rates, a single veteran with no spouse or dependent children who is considered 100 percent disabled is entitled to up to or more than $2,800 per month.

Can I Obtain Disability Benefits If I’m Still Working?

Yes. The VA finds that many beneficiaries are still able to work in some capacity. For example, a person rated 60 percent disabled by the VA and receiving benefits may still be able to work to a limited extent. The agency does not offset benefits based on other earnings.

What Happens if My Claim is Denied?

A person whose claim is initially denied by the VA or disagrees with the rating granted or the effective date of the disability has the right to appeal the decision. It is at this point that the veteran should obtain an attorney. The appeal begins by filing a “Notice of Disagreement” form. As its name implies, the Board of Veterans’ Appeals considers claims decisions by local offices. A claimant can request an appellate hearing before the Board.

In our experience, the VA is frequently wrong in its initial determination as to whether a claimant is disabled or regarding the extent of the disability or its effective date. If you have a well-supported claim, do not give up due to an initial rejection. An appeal is frequently necessary to completely prove your claim.

At Hermann Law Group, PLLC, our veterans disability benefits lawyers are dedicated to helping clients throughout New York State, as well as Connecticut and New Jersey, obtain the maximum amount of benefits to which they are entitled. With more than five decades of combined experience, we have the knowledge, skills, and ability to help veterans navigate the claims process and present their case to the VA in the most clear and convincing manner. Call us at 877-644-9710 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

How Do I Pay My Attorney?

In order to help our clients manage their benefits & simplify fee payments we offer a FREE debit account. For more information contact us!!

Railroad Retirement Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are Railroad Retirement Disability Benefits?

Railroad Retirement Disability BenefitsA. Railroad Retirement Disability Benefits are benefits administered through the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) for any qualifying rail worker who becomes disabled and unable to work. Throughout their work history, rail workers contribute through payroll deductions and taxes to the railroad retirement system, as does the railroad itself. If you qualify, you may draw on these benefits if you become disabled, just as you would when you retire.

Q. How do I know if I am eligible for Railroad Retirement Disability Benefits?

A. The standards are different depending on whether you are applying for Occupational Disability Benefits or Total Disability Benefits, but for both you must have worked for one or more railroad for a specified amount of time, be permanently disabled, and be medically unable to perform either your usual railroad occupation or any work at all.

Q. What is the difference between Occupational Disability Benefits and Total Disability Benefits?

A. There are several differences in requirements and benefits for Occupational Disability Benefits as opposed to Total Disability Benefits. For a detailed analysis of these programs, please click HERE.

Q. How long should I wait before I apply for Railroad Retirement Disability Benefits?

A. You should file a claim for Railroad Retirement Benefits as soon as it becomes apparent that you will not be able to work. Claims can take many months to process, and the sooner you apply, the sooner you will begin receiving benefits.

Q. Do I need an attorney to apply for Railroad Retirement Disability Benefits?

A. No. You can apply on your own. However, claimants who are represented by an experienced attorney are far more likely to succeed than those who are not.

At Hermann Law Group, we have over a 95% success rate in the Railroad Disability Claims we handle. We have the knowledge and experience to help win your claim and maximize your benefits, and we can offer you the support that you need during this stressful, difficult time.

Q. What will an attorney do for me?

A. At Hermann Law Group, we will review or help you to complete all necessary forms. We will contact your doctors and other health care providers in order to collect all the necessary medical information required to prove your case. We will deal with the Railroad Board on your behalf, and make sure that your case moves through the system as quickly as possible. If your case is appealed to a hearing, we will develop your claims file and make sure that you are fully prepared to testify. We will always be available to answer your questions and provide advice regarding various benefits to which you may be entitled. We will also review your benefits once they are awarded, and make sure that you continue to receive your benefits so long as you are unable to work.

Different attorneys will provide you with different levels of service. The basic job of your attorney is to prove to the Railroad Retirement Board, based on medical evidence, why you cannot work, and to advocate for you to receive the benefits to which you are entitled.

Q. How do I pay my attorney?

A. You and your attorney will agree on a fee which you pay directly. While, under the Railroad Retirement Act, the Board does not set attorney fees, after a fee is agreed upon by a claimant and attorney, that fee must be submitted to the Railroad Retirement Board for approval.

At Hermann Law Group, we take a fee only if you win your claim.

In order to help our clients manage their benefits & simplify fee payments we offer a FREE debit account. For more information contact us!!

Q. How long will my benefits last?

A. Your benefits will last until you reach full retirement age and your Railroad age–and–service annuity begins, or until you are no longer disabled. If you return to work and are able to hold a job, the Railroad Retirement Board will consider your disability to have ended whether or not there has been a substantial improvement in your medical condition.

Q. Can I receive Railroad Retirement Disability Benefits along with other benefits, such as Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability?

A. Absolutely. While the Railroad Retirement Board is separate from the Social Security Administration, the two systems coordinate earnings records, payments of benefits, and taxes paid. Often the Railroad Retirement benefits are greater than those that can be obtained under Social Security.

Depending on your years of Railroad service, if you have earnings subject to Social Security Disability withholding, the Railroad Retirement Board will credit those earnings when calculating your total annuity. If you do not have sufficient years of service to be eligible for Railroad Retirement benefits, your railroad earnings will be applied towards Social Security eligibility.

By contrast, Railroad Retirement benefits and Long Term Disability are mutually exclusive, and you can receive full benefits from both at the same time, though subject to any offsets imposed by your LTD carrier.

Q. Am I allowed to do any work while I receive Railroad Retirement Disability Benefits?

A. Any work activity may make your disability subject to scrutiny. Whether or not your medical condition substantially improves, if you do return to work then regardless of your earnings the Railroad Retirement Board may consider you to be “medically recovered,” and therefore no longer eligible for benefits.

At Hermann Law Group, we urge our clients to tell us when they are considering returning to work, so that we can discuss the implications with them, and help them plan accordingly.

Q. What is the “waiting period” for Railroad Retirement Benefits?

A. From the onset date of your disability, you must wait 5 months until your disability annuity payments may begin. This is known as the “waiting period,” and it is extremely important to make sure that all dates are calculated accurately in your claim, so that you can begin to collect payment as soon as possible.

At Hermann Law Group, we carefully review all documentation from your treating physicians and other medical sources, in order to make sure that your onset date is correct, and to start the “clock” ticking as early as possible.

Q. What is a “spouse annuity”?

A. If you receive disability benefits through the Railroad Retirement Board, your spouse may also be eligible for benefit payments, especially if he or she is caring for your child. Similarly, your children might be eligible for increased benefits based on your specific circumstances. The qualifications for “spouse annuity” can be quite complicated, so it is best to consult with your attorney to see if your situation satisfies the eligibility requirements.

New York Railroad Retirement Attorney Answers Questions About Railroad Retirement

What Is Railroad Retirement?

Railroad retirement Disability FAQsRailroad retirement is a federal retirement and disability system that is similar to Social Security but provides different and to a certain extent greater benefits. A New York railroad retirement attorney emphasizes that the two systems are separate and that the railroad employee taxes are administered by the Railroad Retirement Board, or RRB.

How Are Railroad Retirement Benefits Different Than Social Security?

Unlike Social Security, railroad retirement benefits are divided into two tiers. According to a New York railroad retirement attorney, tier one benefits are similar to Social Security benefits and the tier two benefits more resemble a private pension.

How Does the Tier One System Work?

Tier one benefits are calculated using Social Security formulas but with different eligibility based on age and service. For instance, a New York railroad retirement lawyer reports that to be eligible for retirement benefits a worker must have:

  • Worked for the railroad for at least five years if hired after 1995; or
  • Worked for at least 10 years.

Full annuities are available for those employees with 30 years of service.

When Can a Worker Take Tier One Benefit?

A worker with 30 years of service is eligible at 60. Similarly to Social Security, a worker with less than 30 years can take early retirement at 62 or full retirement at 65, 66 or 67 depending on the year of the individual’s birth.

Do Tier One Benefits Include Disability?

The RRB uses the same definition of disability as Social Security:

  • The worker’s disability must be severe enough to prevent any substantial gainful activity; and
  • It is expected to last for at least one year.

To receive full benefits, the worker must have 10 years of railroad employment. In addition, the RRB provides benefits for what is called an occupational disability. An occupational disability is not a total disability but one that precludes the worker from performing their previous railroad job.

Are Any Other Benefits Available Under Tier One?

Yes. Tier one also includes unemployment benefits, sickness benefits, spousal benefits and survivor benefits. A separate tax is paid to fund unemployment and sickness benefits, and there is a dollar limit payable per day, currently $61, as well as a maximum number of days, 130, in a benefit period, which runs from July 1 through June 30. Spousal benefits are generally payable at approximately 50 percent of the railroad worker’s tier one benefit amount but may be less if the worker applied for early benefits. Survivor benefits are generally equivalent to those available under Social Security under similar circumstances.

What Benefits Are Available Under Tier Two?

Tier two benefits are like private pensions. The calculation is based on the average income of the worker’s five highest salaried years of employment.

What If a Worker Is Eligible for Both Railroad Benefits and Social Security?

Generally, tier one benefits are offset by amounts due under Social Security. There is an exception for workers who qualified before 1975. Those workers may receive an additional annuity payment to replace the offset under what is known as vested dual benefit payment. The tier two portions of benefits is based on railroad service only and is not reduced for any entitlement the worker may have for Social Security.

Contact a New York Railroad Retirement Attorney for Legal Advice

The calculation and awarding of railroad benefits can be a complicated process, especially for those workers who have paid into the Social Security system as well. Be certain you are receiving all you are entitled to. Hermann Law Group, PLLC offer a free case evaluation. Call their expert New York railroad retirement attorneys at their office today at 1-877-773-3030.