April 2009


When it comes to depression and other diseases of the mind, many people treat for it and anxiety through prescriptions from a family doctor.

This is fine, but Social Security Disability Judges give more weight to psychologists and psychiatrists.

That is why I recommend to my clients that they see a psychologist or psychiatrist if at all possible.

Psychiatrists are specialists in mental health treatment so they can give detailed explanations of your condition, and the resulting limitations.

If you have any questions about depression and anxiety and Social Security, or about mental health providers who may be available to help you please call me, Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

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The main reason I think people represent themselves in a Social Security Disability case is they do not understand the fees a lawyer can charge.

In Social Security Disability cases attorney fees are controlled by federal law. A lawyer can only receive 25% of back benefits or $6,000 whichever is the lower amount. There are no fees on the monthly check you receive. If there are no back benefits there are no fees.

Receiving a monthly check the rest of your life and having access to medical benefits for the rest of your life is certainly worth a small fee.

The problem with representing yourself is that you do not know what the judge is looking for, you do not know what to ask the vocational expert, and you do not know what medical records are important.

Questions about representing yourself, or whether you need a lawyer? Call Attorney Dirk May at 309-4371.

The Central Illinois Hearing Office in Peoria, Illinois has been moving Social Security Disability cases much faster this year. The Peoria office covers Bloomington, Pontiac, Springfield, Decatur and Champaign.

Before this year it would take anywhere from 2 to 3 years from the date you requested your hearing to actually have your hearing before the Administrative Law Judge.

The Hearing Office is now scheduling hearings for cases from the summer and fall of 2007. It looks the wait time has been reduced to 18 months from the date you request a hearing.

The question is whether this will last? Staffing has to continue to keep pace, and the number of new cases filed will have an effect on whether the backlog will be reduced.

I have seen some people report that in the 1970’s it would only take 4 to 8 months to have a hearing. I do not think we will return to that level any time soon.

Questions about how soon you can expect a hearing? Call Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

It is important to know how the Administrative Law Judge thinks because she is going to decide whether or not you are disabled.

The way the Judge looks at your case depends on your age.

If you are under 50 years of age, and the Judge thinks you can work at job at all then you are not disabled.

If you are 50 years of age or older, and the Judge thinks you can only work a sedentary job then you are disabled ( there are certain exceptions to this rule but to make things simple I will not get into them at this time).

A sedentary job means a job where you spend 6 hours out of an 8 hour day sitting. And you only have to lift 10 pounds.

Questions about proving you cannot work? Call Social Security Disability Lawyer Dirk May at 309-827-4371.

Your medical records will decide whether or not you win your social security disability case.

That is why it is so important to get medical treatment in your Social Security case. Of course, this is difficult if you do not have insurance or a medical card. Bloomington, Peoria, Champaign and Springfield, Illinois have some free clinics. There are also some mental health facilities in Central Illinois that provide counselors and psychiatrists.

You should treat on a regular basis. This will show your condition is serious.

You should tell your doctor about all your problems so the doctor will record everything in your records.

The medications you take are important. This will be part of your records also.

What the doctor writes in the records is very persuasive to the Administrative Law Judge who will decide your case. So make sure you are clear in what you tell your doctor.

Need more tips? Call SSDI Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.