I do not know how many times people tell me about others they know who are on Social Security Disability and who are not that bad off.

The basic point to their story is that I should be found disabled because I am much worse off than the other people I know.

My response is that all is not as it appears.

In other words, we cannot see the disabled person’s medical records. We do not know what their work background or educational history. Just because you cannot see the disability does not mean it does not exist. Think of pain, fatigue, mental illness.

Another big difference is age. For instance, the other day a younger person told me that he had waited 6 months for a decision and he knew someone who was 52 years old who was found disabled within 2 months. Once you are 50 years old the requirements to be found disabled are much different than if you are under 50 years of age.

The other thing that appears unfair is that different people who review the cases come to different conclusions. That is life. The reviewers are supposed to use the same standards but human bias always enters in.

The bottom line is that the system is messed up. It takes too long for Social Security to make a decision. It is frustrating but we have to adapt to the long waits or change them.

Any ideas about ways to speed up Social Security Disability decisions? Call me, Attorney Dirk May, at 309-827-4371.


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.

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 delays from filing for Social Security Disability to hearing are discouraging, disappointing and the prospects for improvement are dismal.

In Central Illinois, which covers Peoria, Bloomington, Pontiac, Springfield and Champaign, Illinois it takes 2.5 years to 3 years to get to hearing. That is devastating when you cannot work due to your disability.

There is no easy answer.

The Social Security Commissioner recently said that the problem is partially due to Administrative Law Judges who do not do their job and decide enough cases, and partially due to not having enough judges and support staff.

First of all, in my experience the judges in the Peoria region all work hard and hear many cases. The reality is that there are many more people applying for Social Security than there is staff that can keep up with the cases.   

The upcoming election is not going to change funding or staffing to the extent it will make any difference in the delays. Sorry, to be negative.

But that does not mean we should not be contacting federal officials- Congress persons and United States Senators, and reminding them of the about the terrible delays and encouraging them to do all that is possible to bring down the case backlogs. 

Let’s be honest. Not every client and lawyer get along.  When choosing your lawyer it is important to make sure your personalities and expectations match.  Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  •  Does the lawyer return your calls within 24 hours? There really is no excuse for not returning your calls. If the lawyer is in court, then the attorney will have to get you a message and call you when available.
  • Does your lawyer take your input? A Social Security disability case is really a partnership between attorney and client. This does not mean the lawyer will always agree with you, but you should at least be able to discuss your views and understand why the attorney takes certain approaches and positions in your case.
  • Is this more than a business relationship? In other words, it is not just about money. There must be trust and an ability to work together to put your best case before the Administrative Law Judge. A lawyer can never guarantee you will win, but the attorney can promise to give his best effort to present your case.
  • Is the lawyer familiar with the Administrative Law Judges who may decide your case? It is very important to know the judge and what he or she looks for in a disability case. A lawyer from a city or state far from your home will be at a great disadvantage.

Any questions, please call Attorney Dirk May at 309-827-4371.