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Top Questions
Who is Public Consulting Group?

Public Consulting Group, Inc(PCG) has nearly 25 years experience and is considered a national leader in SSI/SSDI screening, application processing, tracking and post award advocacy services.  PCG is a management consulting firm founded in 1986 and headquartered in Boston, MA. PCG has over 700 professionals in 29 offices in the U.S. and Montreal, Canada.

Can any Trust Member participate in this program?

This program is available to Trust Members, surviving spouses and eligible dependents who have established work credits with the Social Security Administration and that have potential Medicare eligibility. For more information regarding work credits or Medicare eligibility, please contact PCG.

What is the cost to have PCG represent me?

For those Members who meet the program criteria established by the Trust, there will be no charge to the Member.

Will PCG keep my information confidential?

Yes. PCG is HIPAA compliant and will ensure that all of your information is protected and kept confidential. PCG must follow all federal and state regulations when representing you with your disability application and will keep all of your data private. PCG will not release your information without a signed release form or discuss the sensitive nature of your conditions to anyone not previously authorized by you. PCG has in place data privacy and security policies that provide administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to ensure it remains in compliance with all HIPAA standards and regulations.

How long does the typical application process take?

The length of the application process can vary depending on the level of your application. The average length of time for an initial application is between 3-6 months after the application is submitted. As the application process continues, the timeframes get longer. The national average for a hearing to be scheduled can be between 18-24 months from the hearing filing date.

PCG works closely with you and SSA to minimize these timeframes and ensure that your application is processed as timely as possible. We do this by fully developing your application and utilizing all means available to request faster decisions. These include On The Record (OTR) requests, SSA’s Quick Disability Decision (QDD) process and informal remands.

Why would I need a representative to file a Social Security Disability application?

Social Security disability is a very complex and complicated program that requires a lot of paperwork and understanding of the process. PCG assists individuals at all levels of adjudication starting at the initial application. We will be able to walk you through each process and explain all correspondence received from SSA as well assist with completion of all forms required for appeals. Below is a breakout of SSA’s published approval rates compared to that of PCG.  By selecting our team of experts you are getting a knowledge base that significantly increases your chances in achieving the best outcome with relation to your disability application.

SSA    WWW.SSA.gov

29%

69%

PCG

65%

85%

 

What is the Social Security Administration (SSA) definition of disability?

For all individuals applying for disability benefits under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and for adults under the age of 65 applying under Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the definition of disability is the same. The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 month. Please reference the SSA Red Book for more detailed information: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/redbook/eng/overview-disability.htm#5

What kind of disability qualifies?

According to Social Security law, disability is defined as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. This includes both mental and physical disabilities as well as the combination of the two. There are two specific categories of qualifying disabilities that the Social Security Administration (SSA) utilizes and considers highly disabling. These are called Compassionate Allowances and Presumptive Allowances. These include multiple types of cancer and a combination of rare diseases as well as end stage renal failure, blindness in both eyes, certain spinal cord injuries and certain acute syndromes. There are many forms of conditions that could be disabling, and most of them are not listed here. PCG will do a complete review of your medical evidence and conditions in order to develop and complete your application.

What are the differences between SSI and SSDI benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a federal agency that administers the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs. While the medical and functional criteria used to find a person eligible for these programs is the same, there are some basic differences that you should be aware of, which have been outlined for you below:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Provides for payment of disability or retirement benefits to individuals who are eligible due to earning work credits.
  • These credits are earned when an individual’s wages are posted to Social Security Administration records.
  • Provides for payment to certain dependents. This is called auxiliary or survivor’s benefits and can be payable to a spouse or child of a deceased, disabled or retired wage earner’s account.
  • Provides payment to disabled widows who meet specific criteria.
  • Your wages determine the amount of your SSDI benefits.
  • Provides payments to people who are disabled and have limited income/resources in the following categories:
    • Individuals (including children under age 18)
    • Individuals over the age of 65 (disability not required)
  • There are no work credits needed to be eligible for this program
  • The Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) for most individual SSI recipients in 2010 is $674/mo. Your other income may offset these payments.
Is SSDI a welfare program?

No. As outlined above, SSDI is based upon your work history and work credits earned. SSDI is an insurance program for you to use should you become disabled or retire.

Will PCG improve my chances of receiving a favorable decision sooner?

Yes. Having PCG represent you will help your chances of receiving a favorable decision sooner.  PCG represents individuals at all levels of adjudication with a strong focus at the initial level.  We strive to get all our cases allowed faster by working closely with SSA and the Disability Determinations Services (DDS) to ensure your claim is being reviewed timely and appropriately. PCG has been extremely successful at the initial level with an overall allowance rate of 65 % compared to SSA’s 29%. Even with this focus however, some cases will end up at the hearing level. PCG’s success rate at the hearing level is 85% compared to SSA’s success rate of 69%. 

What can I expect the hearing to be like?

These hearings are fairly informal. You will go to the Office of Adjudication and Review (ODAR) on the date of your hearing. The only people in the room with you will be your representative, the Administrative Law Judge, the Judge’s clerk and sometimes a medical and/or vocational expert.  Social Security does not have an attorney there working to oppose your claim.  PCG has over 20 years of experience representing clients at the hearing level.   PCG’s representatives and development staff will work with you to ensure you are prepared for the hearing. 

Will someone be at the hearing with me?

Yes! PCG will have an experienced representative at the hearing with you who is thoroughly knowledgeable of your individual claim.

What happens if I receive an unfavorable decision after my hearing?

PCG will conduct a thorough post hearing decision review to decide if there was an error of law in the decision issued. Once the review process is complete, PCG will discuss the outcome with you and, if an appeal is warranted, file the SSA 520 form on your behalf to ensure a timely appeal is receive at SSA and the Appeals Council.  If the Appeals Council agrees that there was an error in law in your hearing decision they will remand your claim back to the Administrative Law Judge and you will potentially have the opportunity to present your case at another hearing.

Can I earn income while I’m applying?

Yes.  However, there are some specific criteria you need to follow.  Social Security puts a limit on the amount of money you can earn from Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).  The SGA amount for individuals with disabilities other than blindness is $1000.00 in 2010.  The SGA amount for individuals who are blind is $1640.00 in 2010.   SSA also has programs in place for a person who is already receiving disability called Trial Work Programs.  These programs allow individuals to test out their ability to work without a cap on earnings.  These are very specific to each individual and can be discussed further with your representative after a favorable decision has been issued.

How soon will I be eligible for Medicare?

SSA will automatically enroll you in Medicare after you receive disability benefits for two years.  SSA starts counting the 24 months from the month you were entitled to receive Disability, not the month when you received your first check.

The exception to this rule is for individuals with permanent Kidney failure or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  These individuals will receive Medicare beginning with the month they become entitled to disability benefits. 

Is it necessary for my representative and I to be located in the same state or location?

No. PCG currently represents individuals all across the United States from one central processing center.  Because the application process is filed on-line and documentation is typically mailed or sent through an Electronic Records Express (ERE), all communication with our clients can easily be done over the phone. At PCG our clients are the priority.  We remain in close contact with our clients on a regular basis giving them access to their own personal advocate

The exception to this rule is if it is necessary to attend a hearing.  In the event that your claim proceeds to a hearing, PCG will always provide a Hearings Representative to attend the hearing with you as your advocate.

What are the different levels of the SSA Adjudication process?

The Social Security application process has four levels of adjudication. You can be allowed for disability benefits at any level. The levels are the initial application, reconsideration, hearing and appeals council. The reconsideration level is not available in all states. PCG is able to assist you at all levels of your application process.

What is the average length of time from when my hearing is filed to when my hearing is actually scheduled, and what can I expect from PCG during that time?

This depends on which ODAR you are assigned to based on your geographical location. On average somewhere between 18-24 months. There is a large backlog within Social Security right now. It is not uncommon to wait the full 18-24 months before having a hearing scheduled. PCG will contact you every 3 months at a minimum to verify your doctors and medications and to update the medical records in your file. We continue to gather all the medical records needed to fully develop your case right up through the date of your hearing.  In addition we ask our clients to update us with any changes or additions to their medical conditions.

Where can I find more information about the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust?

For more information on the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, please visit their Web site at: www.uawtrust.org

How do I find out how much I will receive in monthly benefits from SSA disability and/or retirement benefits?

If you currently have enough Social Security Credits to qualify for benefits, you can use the Retirement Estimator for a retirement estimate based on current law and real time access to your earnings record.

The process to get started is easy: By completing a few simple questions we can assist you in determining what your next steps should be. Get Started

 



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Public Consulting Group
Address
: 200 Fair Street, Ste 2 Clarkston, WA 99403
Telephone: 1-888-690-1008
FAX: 1-888-290-2512
E-mail: pcguaw@publicconsultinggroup.com