1. Not having
"Disability" is strictly defined by the Social Security
Adminsitration, and many people are
surprised when they learn that their condition doesn't meet the
administration's criteria. So what constitutes a
To qualify for social security disability
benefits, you must be unable to perform any substantial work
and have a medical condition that has lasted (or is expected to last) at
least a year, or results in death.
(A lot of people believe they can collect disability
benefits if they are not able to do their regular job as opposed to any
job. This is untrue. Social Security doesn't only take into
consideration the type of work you have previously been doing, but
anything that they believe will suit you and your
2. Waiting too
If you wait too long to start the process, you
are doing yourself a complete disservice. Even if you are approved,
there is approximately a five-month waiting period before your disability checks
will start to arrive. Any delay also means that you are putting off much
needed Medicare coverage, which won't start until 24 months after
being approved for disability.
Waiting too long, or worse, giving up can result in smaller
benefits as a retiree because Social Security factors in your total number
of working years.
3. Not having finances
The disability process is a mental and financial
marathon. It's critical that you use financial-planning basics
to tread water until you are
receiving disability awards and Medicare coverage for
your medical needs.
(Social Security has recently started to fast-track people
who have medical conditions that qualify for a
compassionate allowance. The allowance is reserved
for people with one or more of 50 different disabling conditions, including 25 types of cancer.)
4. Poor preparation
Organization of your application is
critical. To make Social Security take notice of your
application do the following: gather your medical records; make a list
of the doctors you've seen; have documents from your physician's
that support your claims; and a list of the medications you're taking
or have taken.
In other words, submit a comprehensive package that is
You must be
persistent. Don't be discouraged if you get rejected--almost
everyone is rejected the first time. It's very possible that you have to
appeal your case and possibly go before a judge before receiving
There is some good news: Close to two-thirds of cases
that go through one or two appeals will eventually receive benefits.
There is some bad news: Currently, a backlog of
750,000 cases are awaiting decisions at the hearing level. Becuase there
is a shortage of judges to hear these cases, it can take up to two years to
The key is not to give
up. Many people will wonder how long it takes to receive disability benefits. However, if you receive a denial, and have 60 days to appeal, appeal on
the day you receive your denial. Waiting only puts you behind another
million folks waiting for a hearing.
6. Not reaching
out for help
If you're frustrated and having trouble
with the process, contact an experienced social security disability lawyer or
a nonprofit advocacy group.
It's no secret, the Social Security Adminsitration speaks a
secret language, and good social security attorney will understand
7. Not changing inaccurate
Compare your annual Social Security
earnings statements against W-2 tax forms for accuracy. And it's not just
the math you need to worry about; check personal data, too, especially after a
divorce or name change. If you find that an error exists, call the
Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213.
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S. Jack Keller
Keller and Keller
P.O. Box 7
814 Port Street
Joseph, MI 49085
S. Jack Keller is a second generation lawyer stemming from a
family which upholds a proud tradition in helping and assisting people who have
been victimized through the negligence of others. For more than forty years, Mr.
Keller has been protecting the rights of clients who have suffered personal
injury. His successful representation of his clients include victims of
automobile, semi truck, motorcycle, snow mobile and farm accidents, as well as
premise liability cases. He is now the senior partner of Keller and
After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of
Michigan, Attorney Keller graduated for the University of Indiana School of Law.
Martindale-Hubbell has bestowed upon Mr. Keller an AV rating--their highest
award in the legal profession--designated for his legal ability, standards of
conduct, ethics, reliability and diligence. He is also a member of the
prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Past President of the Berrien County
Bar Association, as well as a current member of the Association of Trial Lawyers
of America, Indiana and Michigan Trial Lawyers Association, and the Berrien
County Bar Association. Mr. Keller is also able to practice before the United
States District Court of the Western District of Michigan and the Northern
District of Indiana.
In addition to the personal attention given to
each of his clients, Mr. Keller also lends his efforts and resources to the
community in which he resides. He is a current Rotarian as well as a board
member and past President of Temple B'nai Shalom.
Away from the
office, Attorney Keller enjoys spending time with his wife, Julie, his children,
and seven grandchildren. His hobbies include digital photography, tennis, and
travel with family and friends.
Bachelor of Arts
University of Michigan (1959)
Indiana University, Bloomington (1962)
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