John Martin Smith has been representing
clients in Social Security Disability Appeals for over ten (10)
years. He devotes about forty percent of his practice time to this
area of the law. Clients come to John Martin Smith from many counties
in Indiana and several counties in Ohio. He has about one hundred
active cases at any given time. He has a very high success rate
in appeals before Social Security Administration law judges.
IS A LAWYER NECESSARY?
We encourage claimants to file their
claims with their local Social Security office. Many claimants come
to the Auburn office at 1240 South Grandstaff due to its ease of
access in a low traffic area. A claimant can file at any office.
If the claim is approved, a lawyer
is not necessary. If the claimant is denied at the first stage,
it is best to consult counsel for the next two stages.
WHAT ABOUT FEES?
Attorneys representing claimants
may charge a contingent fee from back benefits awarded with a maximum
of $5,300. These fees are deducted from the back benefit award before
a check is sent to the claimant. There is no fee upfront. If the
appeal is not successful, the attorney receives no fee, but may
require reimbursement for out of pocket expenses.
HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY
ASSIST A CLAIMANT?
John Martin Smith is well versed
in the laws, regulations, and cases pertaining to Social Security
Disability. While a claimant may be clearly disabled, it is necessary
to obtain the documentation necessary to satisfy the Social Security
criteria. Mr. Smith also prepares a Brief to submit to the Administrative
Law Judge illustrating and documenting why the claimant's situation
meets the criteria. He will also prepare the claimant and witnesses
for the hearing. He also accompanies the claimant to the hearing
and represents he or she before the judge.
Often there are collateral areas
which must be addressed. For example, there is sometimes an onset
issue. Social Security is like an insurance policy. One obtains
coverage by paying Social Security tax through employment or self-employment.
If a person has not worked for some time, coverage may have been
terminated at an earlier date. Then it becomes necessary to establish
the disability as of the earlier date-not the present date. Mr.
Smith will recognize and address these issues. (NOTE: A claimant
could be eligible for SSI regardless of coverage, but there are
related issues of total assets, spousal income, etc.)
Often there are issues other than
Social Security Disability affecting the claimant. Examples would
include Medicaid coverage and short term or long term disability
insurance coverage through an employer. Also, some disabilities
are a result of workplace injuries which may make a claimant eligible
for workmen's compensation. Smith & Smith generally do not handle
workmen's compensation but co-ordinate with other attorneys as to
such issues. Generally, representation in other areas is not covered
by the Social Security contingent fee but we work with clients as
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
The following steps are usually followed:
- Make an appointment with us.
- Meet with John Martin Smith and
an assistant to gather initial information and to sign various
- We file an "Appointment of
Representative" and "Fee Agreement" with Social
Security Administration. This advises the Social Security Administration
that the claimant is represented by counsel so that all communication
is sent to both the claimant and us.
- We evaluate the issues and frequently
order additional medical or employment records.
- If the claimant is at the reconsideration
stage, we assist in the completion of forms.
- At the Administrative Law Judge
stage, we prepare the claimant and witnesses for the hearing,
write a Brief for the judge, and accompany the claimant to the
Our office is easily accessed. If
you need handicapped access, let us know when you make the appointment.
If you cannot come to our office, we will come to you.
WHAT IS THE CRITERIA?
Very generally a person who is under
fifty (50) years of age, must be unable to perform any "substantial
gainful activity" on a regular eight hour per day five days
per week, regardless of their past employment. For example, if a
person was a truck driver, was unable to continue that employment,
but could work as a janitor, they would probably not be eligible
for Social Security Disability. A difference in pay is irrelevant.
A person who is over fifty years
of age must be unable to perform the duties of their past regular
employment on a regular eight hour per day five days per week basis.
For example, if a person over fifty years of age was a truck driver
but cannot drive a truck due to their disability, they may qualify.
Social Security regulations have
a system of "Grids" which provide that, if a person meets
certain criteria, they are automatically awarded disability. If
a person does not meet the criteria of a "Grid," then
a four step evaluation is made.