Money: Social Security Connection - November 2008

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Q: Does a person have a better chance at getting approved for Social Security disability if he or she has a lawyer? My neighbor didn’t have a lawyer, and he was denied twice. Then he got a lawyer the third time around, and he was approved. – B.K., Missouri

A: No, not necessarily. However, if the initial disability decision is denied, many claimants have representation if the claim is appealed to a hearing with an administrative law judge. In those situations, a lawyer is usually more experienced pleading the merits of the claim and applying federal laws, codes and standards.

Q: Does Social Security have direct deposit for people receiving benefits? If so, how difficult is it to sign up for it, so my check can be deposited directly into my checking account? Does this process have to be done in person, or can it be done over the telephone or through the mail? – D.B., Florida

A: Yes, direct deposit is available. It can be set up by calling, visiting or mailing your request to your local (or nearest) Social Security office. Have proof of identity, your bank routing number, and your checking or savings account number ready, as these things are all needed to set up direct deposit.

To contact the Social Security office, call, toll-free, 1 (800) 772-1213, or visit the Web site at www.SocialSecurity.gov.