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Social Security Disability SSI FAQ

Are you SSA?

No. We are an independent company. Our purpose is to help individuals apply for disability benefits through Social Security. We can help you to cut through the red-tape and streamline the application and/or appeals process. If you would like to apply or appeal, simply fill out the short form on the right.

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance is a tax-funded, federal insurance program, designed to provide income to people unable to work because of a disability until their condition improves and guarantees income if they remain unable to work. This is not a welfare program, it is more closely related to an auto or health insurance program, where those who pay in receive the benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is also frequently referred to as “DIB” (Disability Insurance Benefits), and “Title II” or “Title 2″ benefits (named for the chapter title of the governing section of Social Security Act).

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income is generally reserved as a type of welfare benefit for those who have not worked during their lives or those who have not worked for a cumulative 5 out of the last 10 years. Your benefits start from the date of your social security application. In calculating your SSI benefits, Social Security generally considers all of the combined income of every member in your household. We can assist you in your new SSI application.

How do you qualify for SSDI?

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if you have a physical or mental condition that keeps you from engaging in any ‘substantial gainful work’. It must last at least 12 months or be expected to result in death. You also must be under the age of 65 and have worked 5 out of the last 10 years. Your disabilities need to be proven by medical evidence. Regular doctor visits can help your chances of winning a benefit. They must also meet a strict SSA medical listing for their condition. 61% of surveyed wage earners personally know someone who has been disabled and unable to work for 3 months or longer.

What are the specific disability requirements to qualify for SSDI?

You can view a list of Social Security disability impairment criteria, broken down by specific conditions by visiting the Social Security website: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm

How long does an application take & what are the steps?

There is no standard on how long an application takes. Application time varies depending on what level of the process the award is made. Our experience is that it will take around 6 months to get granted or denied your initial application. According to SSA it takes 3-5 months to get the first decision back from Social Security on a disability claim.

Here is a breakdown of average times as of Spring 2006.

Level 1 – Initial Application: 1-12 months Level 2 – Reconsideration Level: 1-12 months Level 3 – Hearing Level: 9-30 months Level 4 – Appeals Council: 1-15 months Level 5 – Federal District Court: 12-36 months

There have been reports of claims taking years, including a case in Pennsylvania that was awarded in early 2006 after 14 years.

Beginning in August 2006 the SSA will implement changes on a trial basis to the application process in the six-state New England region in an attempt to speed up the application process. No other regions will be immediately effected.

What are the benefits of SSDI over Long Term Disability Insurance?

Increased Monthly Income: Social Security provides a regular monthly payment that supplements any current disability benefits already received. It also provides annual cost of living increases. A portion of these benefits may be tax free.

Medical Benefits: Regardless of a person’s age, after receiving SSDI benefits for 24 months, they are eligible for Medicare, including Part A (hospital benefits) and Part B (medical benefits).

Prescription Drug Coverage: Once a person is entitled to Medicare, they are also eligible for Medicare Part D, the new prescription drug plan.

COBRA Extension: If a person receives Social Security disability benefits, any COBRA benefits may also be extended from 18 to 29 months.

Protected Retirement Benefits: Social Security disability entitlement “freezes” Social Security earnings records during a person’s period of disability. Because those years will not be counted when computing future benefits, their Social Security retirement benefits will be higher.

Dependent Benefits: If a person receives Social Security disability benefits and they have a dependent under age 18, he or she may also be eligible for benefits.

Return-to-Work Incentives: Social Security will provide a person opportunities to return to work while still paying them disability benefits.

What is the fee?

We don’t charge a fee unless you win benefits from Social Security. Our fee is taken one time from the back benefits check issued and is 25% of that check. Your ongoing checks are yours to keep.

How long does it take to start receiving benefits?

That depends. If your initial application is accepted it can be several months. If your case goes all the way to the hearing level it will take a couple years. We can represent you all the way.If you win benefits, SSDI payments start the 6th full month after your disability begins (generally the amount of time you have to wait to get approved anyway).

How much money will I get?

The amount of money depends on your claim. Things that can affect it are the number of dependents you have, and the gross monthly income of your household.

How does hiring an attorney help my chances of winning disability benefits?

a. People who hire representation for their disability case are statistically much more likely to win benefits (http://www.social-security-disability-claims.org).
b. Experienced attorneys know what kind of proof you need in order to get approved. (http://www.social-security-disability-claims.org)
c. Although an attorney can’t do everything for you, their knowledge and expertise will save you time and effort.

Can a person be working at all while they apply for social security disability?

a. Yes, as long as they do not earn more than 900 dollars a month before taxes.
b. They also must not work more than 20 hours a week.
c. Working over either of these amounts is referred to as “substantial gainful activity”. As long as a person doesn’t work over these two amounts, they can actually be awarded disability while working part-time if there is a job that they are able to do.

Can I receive unemployment benefits and Social Security Disability Benefits at the same time?

A. The trouble with filing for unemployment and Social Security Disability is that you are essentially saying two different things:

1. First you are saying that you are unable to work for at least a period of 12 months (you are disabled according to Social Security’s rules).

2. Second, you are saying that you cannot find a job (you are unemployed). If you are really disabled, there is no job you can do and therefore no reason for you to look for a job.

B. Unemployment is usually administered through the state that you live in and is in no way connected to Social Security. Social Security is generally more concerned with the amount of income you receive each month than they are with the source of that income, so receiving unemployment and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time is not a huge problem for them. Social Security may, however, count some of the unemployment income against your claim just like any other source of income. Some state unemployment agencies DO care if you get Social Security Disability while you receive unemployment, and in some cases they will make you pay back the unemployment money you got while you were on both Social Security Disability and unemployment benefits.

Author – Brad Myler