Atticus offers free, high-quality disability advice for Americans who can't work. Our team of Stanford and Harvard trained lawyers has a combined 15+ years of legal experience, and have helped over 10,000 Americans apply for disability benefits.
One in ten San Franciscans report having a disability, with mobility challenges being the most common type. If you live in the Golden Gate City and an injury or illness keeps you out of work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), more than 600,000 Californians receive Social Security disability benefits. A disability lawyer in San Francisco can help ease the process of applying for benefits and triple your chances of winning your claim.
SSDI and SSI benefit claims
If you have a medical condition or impairment that will impact your ability to work for more than a year, you should apply for Social Security disability benefits. The SSA administers two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Social Security Disability Insurance, SSDI for short, provides monthly benefits and Medicare coverage. To qualify, you must have a qualifying medical condition expected to last more than 12 months and prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). You must have a certain number of work credits, generally 40, to qualify for benefits.
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is an income-dependent program. Like SSDI, you must have a long-term qualifying medical condition. Instead of your work history, eligibility depends on your income and assets. You must make less than $1,000 per month and have less than $2,000, or $3,000 if you are married, in assets.
Suppose you have a short-term disability and expect to return to work in less than 12 months. In that case, you can apply for partial-wage replacement benefits through the California State Disability Insurance program. You may qualify for workers' compensation benefits if you have a work-related injury or illness.
Do I need a disability lawyer in San Francisco?
For most applicants, having a Social Security disability lawyer is highly advantageous. A disability attorney can help gather your medical records, fill out paperwork, communicate with the SSA, file appeals, and represent you in court for a disability hearing.
You should apply for benefits without legal representation if you have a severe medical condition on the SSA’s compassionate allowance list. The SSA recognizes these conditions as automatic qualifiers and will fast-track your application.
When do I need a disability lawyer?
If you are applying for SSDI, working with a lawyer at the start of your application process can be helpful. A lawyer can help you determine the medical evidence from your doctors specific to your condition and help you complete the application with the answers the SSA is looking for.
It’s generally easier for SSI applicants to get a lawyer in an appeal stage. If you are technically eligible for SSI, a lawyer can help appeal the SSA’s decision about your disability claim and get your application back on track.
The SSA denies about 70% of all initial disability applications and more than 90% of reconsiderations. Whether you’re applying for SSDI or SSI (or both), the appeal stage is where a lawyer is beneficial. A disability lawyer can help you appeal the SSA’s wrongful decision about your case, gather additional medical evidence, and even represent you at a disability hearing in front of an administrative judge.
How much are disability benefits in California?
The amount you can receive in disability benefits depends on the program you qualify for. Consider the following average payment amounts in California:
DI benefits: State disability insurance typically pays 60-70% of your former wages for up to 52 weeks. The maximum amount you can receive is $1,620 per week.
SSI benefits: SSI recipients can receive a maximum of $943 monthly. In California, the average payment amount is $578.62 per month.
SSDI benefits: The maximum payment amount for SSDI is $3,822. The average payment for Californians is $1,524.99 per month.
Match with a trusted disability lawyer in California
What is the most a disability lawyer can charge?
There are no upfront costs to partner with a disability attorney. Generally, you only pay if your lawyer wins your case and the SSA grants you benefits. The standard arrangement is for the disability lawyer to receive 25% of your initial benefit check, with a legal cap set at $7,200.
Get help with your disability application
Atticus is a public-interest law firm working to help disability applicants get the benefits they deserve. Take our 2-minute disability quiz to determine your eligibility. If you're interested, a team member will reach out to learn more about your situation and connect you with a lawyer serving the San Francisco Bay Area.
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SSA offices in San Francisco
If you want to apply for benefits in person or check on the status of your application, there are three SSA field offices in San Francisco:
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