Social Security Disability FAQ
What is Social Security Disability (SSD)?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal assistance program administered by the Social Security Administration (title II of the Social Security Act (the Act)). Only individuals who have a disability and meet certain medical criteria may qualify for benefits under the program.
The program pays monthly cash benefits to individuals who have become disabled and cannot work. To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, the applicant must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of ‘disabled’, and have worked enough, and recently enough, paying into the Social Security system to qualify.
For more information, access the federal website for SSD at http://www.ssa.gov/disability/.
What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
SSI is a federal program, administered by the Social Security Administration, that provides financial assistance to people who have low income and few resources. Eligibility is limited to individuals who are aged, blind, or disabled. SSI offers cash benefits to meet the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. The basic SSI amount is the same nationwide. However, many states add money to the basic benefit.
SSI pays benefits based on financial need, unlike Social Security Disability which is partly based on your work history and amount of taxes you paid in to the Social Security system.
Qualifying for Social Security Income (SSI) does not exclude a disabled individual from other assistance, including Social Security Disability, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and other available programs.
Who qualifies for Social Security Disability?
Both Social Security Disability and Social Security Income programs require medical evidence for the determination of disability. The Social Security Administration has representatives / case workers that will help you to get medical reports from your treating physician(s). Social Security also requests copies of medical evidence from hospitals, clinics, or other health facilities where a claimant has been treated. All medical reports received are considered during the disability determination process.
Other information and records can be submitted on a claimant’s behalf, including information provided by social workers, public and private welfare agencies, employers, and other professionals.
A Social Security Disability attorney can play an important role in helping guide the applicant through the sometimes complex process of applying for benefits. A lawyer can advise you of the records you will need, and what evidence and information can be submitted throughout the review process. Contact an experienced Social Security Disability attorney at Brown & Crouppen today.
To qualify for benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. Then you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.
Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly income. You can earn up to four credits each year. The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. For example, you earn one credit for each $970 of wages. When you’ve earned $3,880, you’ve earned your four credits for the year.
The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled.
Who does the Social Security Administration consider “disabled”?
The definition of disability under Social Security is different than other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
For a complete list of impairments automatically considered “disabilities” by the Social Security Disability program, visit: http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/listing-impairments.htm
Social Security Disability benefits are based solely on your inability to work. Your injury/illness must be ‘long term’, or be expected to keep you from work for at least 1 year.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will conduct a continuing disability review on a periodic basis to determine whether the applicant is still eligible for disability benefits. The applicant is notified in writing of the impending review and its requirements. The applicant may be required to undergo a medical examination and may submit other relevant evidence for SSA consideration.
Am I eligible for Social Security Disability while collecting Workers’ Compensation?
Yes. Workers’ Compensation is an assistance program for injured workers that is managed by state statutes. Social Security Disability is a federal program. Participation in one program does not exclude you from receiving benefits from the other. However, the total benefits amount that you are eligible for under Social Security Disability may change if you are receiving Workers’ Compensation.
Consult with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney at Brown & Crouppen for assistance in understanding the laws as they apply in your state.
If I have been denied Social Security benefits, what can I do?
The Social Security Administration has a built in appeals process for reviewing denied claims.
It is important that you understand that you are not alone. A significant number of applicants are frequently denied benefits the first time they apply. If you have not already contacted an attorney, you should obtain counsel to make a “Request for Reconsideration” within 60 days from the date of your denial letter.
Generally, there are four levels of appeal available:
A reconsideration entails a complete review by the SSA of its initial decision. A social security representative who was not involved in the original application or decision conducts the review. The representative may also review any new evidence submitted by the claimant.
Hearing by an administrative law judge
An administrative law judge conducts a hearing. The claimant may appear in person at the hearing but is not required to do so.
Review by the Appeals Council
The Appeals Council of the SSA does not review all hearing decisions. For decisions it does review, the Council will either render a decision or return it to the administrative law judge for further review.
Federal Court Review
A claimant who is dissatisfied with the final appeal decision may bring suit in federal court within 60 days of the decision.
There are specific deadlines that need to be met throughout the Social Security application and appeals process. It is very important that all forms and records be submitted as requested by the Social Security Administration, or the claimant could face a denial of benefits.
Often, the injured / disabled individual is overwhelmed with his or her medical problems. There are medical bills to pay, appointments to keep, paperwork and phone calls that need to be made. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney at Brown & Crouppen can help by providing advice, managing the application / appeals process, and representing your interests throughout the process.
How is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefit calculated?
Social Security Disability Insurance monthly benefit amounts are based on your lifetime average earnings. The Social Security Statement that you receive each year displays your lifetime earnings and provides an estimate of your disability benefit. If you do not have your Social Security Statement and would like an estimate of your disability benefit, you can call toll-free, 1-800-772-1213, to request a copy of your statement.
If you are getting other government benefits, the amount of your Social Security disability benefits may be affected. This includes Workers’ Compensation payments and / or other public disability benefits payments, such as State Disability Insurance.
What is the benefit of a legal consultation and representation?
The Social Security Disability application process can be a very challenging experience. While many individuals do handle the process themselves, statistics show that claimants that are represented by an attorney are more likely to be approved for benefits.
Why? An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer is familiar with the SSD application and appeals process. They understand what types of records and paperwork are needed for each step of the process, and what deadlines apply along the way. Your attorney’s experience will allow them to submit the needed information in such a way to strengthen your claim. Often, applicants submit too much, irrelevant information which can hamper their case.
An attorney can sometimes speed up the review and appeals process, making certain that no representative has filed paperwork incorrectly, or made a typographical error, or other mistake to jeopardize your claim.
Contact the Attorneys of Brown & Crouppen
Call us toll free at 877-448-5415. Or contact us online. Either way, the consultation is free. An experienced lawyer from Brown & Crouppen will promptly contact you and give you the help you need.