Social Security disability benefits can be complex and confusing. Whether you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, the experienced attorneys at Dayes Law Firm PC have the answers you need.
Listed below are a collection of questions that our attorneys are asked by many of our clients along with the answers to those questions.
If you or someone that you love is having difficulty applying or re-applying for disability benefits, we're here to help.
Social Security Disability Insurance & Supplemental Security Income
What is SSDI?
Who is eligible for SSDI?
What does it mean to be disabled according to the SSA?
Am I eligible for SSDI benefits if I have never worked?
Additionally, if you are disabled and you have no work history, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, a separate government program which provides cash benefits to disabled adults and children with limited incomes, as well as person over 65 without disabilities.
How long can I receive SSDI benefits?
What is the difference between SSDI and SSI benefits?
Supplement Security Income (SSI) benefits provide monthly payments to people who are 65 and older, as well as low-income children and adults who are disabled from birth or are disabled with little or no work history.
Who is eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits?
What are the income requirements for SSI?
The Social Security Administration will take into account your entire family's income, as well as your assets. You are allowed to make some income while receiving SSI benefits, and allowances are made in these calculations. However, your countable income must be less than your federal benefit rate, or you will not qualify.
An experienced SSI attorney like those at Dayes Law Firm PC can help you determine if your income fits within the SSA's guidelines.
Does my state offer extra help or benefits?
The following states do not provide additional supplements: Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.
Questions About The Application Process?
How do I apply for SSDI or SSI benefits?
Usually, you will also need to meet with a SSA representative to complete your application.
Does it cost anything to apply for benefits?
What kind of information will I need before I apply?
• A copy of your birth certificate
• A copy of your military discharge paperwork
• W2s and income tax returns from the last year
• Direct deposit information for your benefit payments
• Any workers compensation claim information you may have
• Information about your medical condition, including dates of treatments and the contact information for anyone who treated you
• Medical test information, including dates and the provider who performed them
• Medication records
• Copies of any other medical records
• A list of your last five jobs and the dates you have worked over the past 15 years.
This information is necessary to complete your disability benefits forms and will speed along your application meeting with the social security administration.
Will I be charged for copies of my medical records?
How does the approval process work?
During the application process, you will be asked to sign a release which allows the SSA to contact your medical providers. If the SSA needs more information regarding your claim, they may contact you or your doctors.
While your application is being reviewed, you may check the status of your application online. When the SSA has made a decision about your claim, it will send you a letter advising you of the outcome.
How long will it take to get a decision?
Do I need a lawyer to apply for benefits?
Many people only retain an attorney if their disability application has been denied.
Has Your Disability Claim Been Denied?
My claim has been denied. What are my options?
If your initial claim has been denied, the first step of the appeals process is to ask for a reconsideration. During a reconsideration, a new SSA employee will review your information for a second time to determine if your initial reviewer made a mistake.
If you do not receive a favorable decision after your reconsideration, you can appeal your claim to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ will hold a hearing, where you and your attorney will argue your case.
If the ALJ denies your appeal, you can also have your claim reviewed by the Appeals Council, which will review the ALJ's decision.
If you not agree with the Appeals Council's decision, or if the Appeals Council declines to hear your case, your only recourse would be to either re-file your initial claim with new evidence, or file a lawsuit in a federal district court.
What is a reconsideration determination?
You will need to fill out a reconsideration request form within 60 days of your claim decision. You will be able to submit any new or additional medical evidence to support your claim with your reconsideration request.
Once your request is received, a new claim representative will review your information again and make a new decision.
How long will it take to get a hearing after initial denial?
You must request a hearing within 60 days of receiving your denied reconsideration claim. If you miss the 60 day deadline, your claim may be permanently denied and you may have to begin the process again.
Once you have filed a request for a hearing, it generally takes at least a year for a hearing to be scheduled. In some parts of the country, it may take up to two years.
Will I have to attend the hearing in person?
What happens at a hearing in front of the ALJ?
Your attorney can also ask you questions to solicit relevant testimony about your case. You may bring your doctor to the hearing to provide additional evidence, or expert medical witnesses may be called to explain your disability at greater length. You can also request that your spouse, former employer, friend, or other person testify about the effect your medical condition has had on your life.
It is unlikely that your ALJ will make a decision about your claim immediately. Usually, he or she will take some additional time to review evidence and testimony before making a decision about your claim.
Can I present new evidence or bring witnesses to a hearing?
How long will it take the ALJ to make a decision about my claim?
However, it is more likely that you will receive a decision about 6 weeks after your hearing.
Can I appeal the decision of the Administrative Law Judge?
You must send your request in writing to the Appeals Council within 60 days of receiving the ALJ's decision.
What is the Appeals Council?
Members of the Council review over a hundred thousand appeals from individual ALJs every year (Appeals Council panels considered 172,000 cases in 2013).
The Appeals Council will review your case, and will decide on one of three options:
• Your claim may be scheduled for a hearing in front of the Council,
• Your claim should be sent back to your original ALJ for reconsideration, or
• Your claim will be denied and the decision of the original ALJ will stand.
What happens if I disagree with the Appeals Council's decision?
Most people faced with a denial at the Appeals Council stage choose to re-file their claim, adding additional information which may increase its chances of being approved.
Miscellaneous Questions About Your Benefits
How much money will I receive in disability benefits?
If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, your monthly payments will depend on how much your paychecks were before you became disabled. If you are applying for Supplemental Security Income, your payments will depend on your household income and your personal assets.
Both programs have maximum limits set by Congress. Your payments cannot exceed these maximums. For SSDI, the maximum disability benefit in 2014 is $2,642 per month, with the average amount being $1,148 per month.
For SSI benefits, the standard base rate is $721 per month, which may fluctuate based on the state where you live, your family's income, and your marital status.
How does my attorney get paid, and how much money will he or she receive?
Occasionally, your attorney may apply to the SSA for his or her fees to be calculated in a different way. Always make sure you understand what you will be charged for legal representation before you hire your attorney.
What do I do for money while I wait for a decision on my benefits?
While you are waiting, you will have to find a way to continue living without your benefits, whether it be with the assistance of your family and friends, or through limited part-time work.
Once your benefits are approved, you will receive the back payments you missed while you were waiting for a decision.
When will I receive my benefits once my claim is approved?
For SSDI, there is a statutory waiting period of five months after your injury. So, for example, if you were injured on January 1st, you could not receive your SSDI payments until May 1st. However, by the time your benefits are approved, most people have past this waiting period.
The date of your SSDI payments depends on your birthday. If you were born on the 1st through the 10th of a month, then you will receive your payment on the second Wednesday of the month. If you were born on the 11th through the 20th, then you will receive your payments on the third Wednesday. If you were born on the 21st through the 31st, then your payments will arrive on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
For SSI benefits, there is no five-month waiting period. Your SSI benefits are paid on the first day of the month (if it is a weekend or holiday, then you will be paid on the banking day prior to the 1st.)
Can my spouse or child receive payments based on my SSDI benefits?
In general, a child who is under the age of 18, and unmarried is entitled to an average of 50% of his or her disabled parent's SSDI payments.
A spouse may receive SSDI payments as well if he or she either cares for minor children who are eligible for SSDI benefits, or is over the age of 62.
Is my child eligible for Social Security benefits if he or she is disabled?
Will I keep my benefits if my disabled spouse passes away?
If you are caring for a child under the age of 16 who receives SSDI benefits from your deceased spouse, then you can keep your spouse's benefits.
Or, if you are at least 60 years old (or at least 50 years old and disabled yourself) then you may also keep receiving your spouse's SSDI benefits.
Will my family's income or assets affect my Social Security benefits?
Social Security Disability Insurance, however, is based on your work history and not your family's income and assets.
Can I work while I am collecting SSDI or SSI benefits?
However, you can both work and receive SSDI benefits as long as you earn less than the monthly income limit (usually $1,220 per month in income with a few exceptions).
Can I work while my benefits application is pending?
While technically you are allowed to work part-time (as long as you make less than $1,220 per month), the person evaluating your claim might be more likely to deny your benefits if he or she believes that you could do full-time work. The closer you are to the upper income limit, the more likely it is that your work may affect the application process.
I would like to try working again full-time, but I don't want to lose my benefits.
If you and your doctor determine that you are not able to work full-time, you will be able to resume receiving your benefits without having to re-apply, assuming you stay within the required time frame.
If I am receiving Workers' Compensation, am I automatically eligible for SSDI?
For example, you could receive Workers' Compensation and still be able to work full-time within a year, which would make you ineligible for SSDI.
Unfortunately, you will need to apply for SSDI benefits separately even if you have already been approved for Workers' Compensation benefits.
Can I get both SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time?
Can I get both SSDI and Workers' Compensation benefits?
Can I get both Social Security disability benefits and veterans' benefits?
If you do not have enough work history for SSDI, and have a low income and few assets, then you may be able to collect both VA benefits and SSI payments, as long as you are still under the SSI program's income limits after accounting for your veterans' benefits.
How does SSDI affect my Social Security retirement income?
Am I eligible for Medicare or Medicaid if I receive Social Security benefits?
If you receive SSI, your eligibility for Medicaid benefits may depend on your state. In most states, an application for SSI acts as an application for Medicaid, while in others, you may need to apply for Medicaid through a separate agency.
Do you have questions? Contact us today
Was your SSDI or SSI claim denied? Do you have additional questions about what you should do? At Dayes Law Firm PC, our experienced Social Security attorneys have years of experience helping people just like you get the benefits you deserve.