Social Security and Disability Attorney

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information about the SSDI and SSI

These benefits are disability payments given to any person qualified for either the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program which is managed by the Social Security Administration. The main beneficiaries of the SSDI are disabled workers who have earned enough work credits and have paid their FICA taxes, while the SSI caters to people with disabilities who have low income and resources.

Your benefit application will be checked against strict eligibility criteria. For SSDI applicants, the SSA shall evaluate if you have enough proof of the following: a severe disability that will last for at least 12 months or lead to death and is included in the SSA’s List of Adult and Child Impairments; enough number of work credits, and functional limitation in performing any type of work or gainful activity. SSI applicants on the other hand must prove that they have a severe disability, and have income and resources worth below their state’s limitation for social security beneficiaries. 

If your medical condition is not listed under any of the 15 categories for Adult and Child List of Disabilities, you may still be eligible to receive disability pay if you can show enough evidence to the SSA that your condition is medically comparable to one of the impairments included in their list. 

The Social Security Office defines a disabled person as someone who has a physical, psychological, or medical condition severe enough to prevent him or her from making any substantial gainful activity (SGA), in which the condition is expected to last for a minimum of one year, or possibly lead to death. Moreover, the SSA provides a comprehensive list of common disorders warranting benefit claims.

Although the SSDI and SSI are primarily intended for people with disabilities such as injured workers, disabled adult children, blind people, disabled widow and widowers, it is possible for a non-disabled individual to enjoy the same benefits if they belong to any of the following categories: the child or spouse of a disabled worker who is qualified for SSDI, a person age 65 or above with limited income and resources, a resident in an emergency shelter or institution of care. You may ask a disability lawyer for more details if you belong to any of these.

The money received by Social Security Disability Insurance beneficiaries comes from payroll taxes known as the FICA tax or Federal Insurance Contributions Act, while the funds used for recipients of the Supplemental Security Income Program come from the U.S. Treasury’s general funds

There are two separate programs providing benefits for disabled people: Social Security Disability Insurance, and Supplemental Security Income. To qualify for the former, you must have a severe or long-term disability hindering you from work and must have earned enough work credit points. 

The Social Security Administration is the principal agency handling the two federal disability programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance, and the Supplemental Security Income. To qualify for the latter, you must be someone with a severe or long-term disability with a limited amount of income and few resources.

There are 15 categories of impairment that may be considered for disability pay. This includes low birth weight and failure to thrive (for children), disorders of the musculoskeletal system, special senses and speech, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, genitourinary tract, endocrine, blood (hematology), skin disorders, congenital disorders affecting multiple systems, neurological disorders, mental disorders, cancer, and immune system disorder. For more details about qualifying conditions, read our resource on Adult and Child Listing of Impairments.

A lot of aspiring disability benefit claimants face more than one health problem. When Social Security determines disability, it will consider the combination of your impairments, the combined effects, and how these affect your functional capacity to perform work. This means you can still file a claim so long as you have the medical evidence to prove the existence of multiple conditions.

If you have waited more than 5 months before your social security claim was approved, you are entitled to receive a back pay on top of the benefits you enjoy. The back pay covers previous month benefits you would have received if your application has been filed earlier.

Application for Social Security Benefits

If applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, it would be best to start applying for social security within 6-9 months after your employment has ended. But if you intend to apply for Supplemental Security Income, you should start your application as soon as you learn that you match the SSA’s target beneficiary profile: a person with a disability who has limited income and resources. Doing so will give you the highest probability to start getting those monthly payments at the earliest time possible. The payouts will be able to cover for your food, clothing, shelter, and other personal necessities. 

Application for disability benefits can be done online, through the Social Security Administration’s website, or by calling the SSA. However, this assumes that you already have the information and documents needed to file for social security benefits. You may wish to consult with a disability attorney prior to filing your claim to ensure that your application is complete and all supporting documentation has been reviewed.

Although the majority of applicants are adults with little to no income, the SSI also caters to children with disabilities whose parents have limited earnings and resources. Read more about the SSI’s target sectors.

Children of disabled employees who are awarded Social Security Disability monthly payments are entitled to receive similar benefits. In addition, disabled adult children (DAC), children who are blind; or those in emergency shelters suffering from a severe disability can also receive payouts from the SSA so long as they meet the target profiles for both programs.

If you are considered by the SSA to be in dire need, defined as being in a situation with no ability to obtain any food, medicine, clothing, or shelter, then, the provision for an expedited process shall apply to you.

You may choose to file a claim on your own, but working with a lawyer gives you numerous advantages. A social security disability attorney can give you a free case evaluation to assess your chances of getting a claim approved, give assistance in preparing the needed paperwork, and even assist you if your initial claim or even if your second or third application has been rejected.

Most lawyers offer free case evaluations or free initial consultations to their clients. For the majority of cases, the attorney receives one-quarter of the back benefits awarded to you once you win, and charges no fees if the case is lost. Contact us to know more about attorney fees.

In general, social security benefits are cash payments given every month. The amount you will receive will depend on which program you applied for, whether or not your state provides additional cash benefits, and may even have deductions if you have unsettled loans or unpaid taxes (applicable only to SSDI beneficiaries). Under SSDI, you may receive medical insurance once you’ve received 2 years’ worth of payouts, while for SSI you may get food stamps, medicare premiums, social services programs, and other help for disabled people.

Your monthly payments will only start after the Social Security Office has approved your claim based on its evaluation of your eligibility and submitted documents. You will receive a written notice from their office stating the date you can expect to get the disability pay, how much back pay you’re entitled to (if any), and the amount you’ll receive.

You have a higher possibility of getting your claim approved if you have enough documentation proving that your disability is severe and long-term. This will include a complete medical history, hospital records, medically acceptable imaging tests (CAT scan, X-ray, MRI, etc.), laboratory test results, doctor’s sworn statement or testimony, no record of crime or felony, and detailed personal information. You also boost your chances at approval when you have a disability lawyer who can guide you along the way and knows the in and outs of social security filings. If you want to consult with one of Orum Young Law’s attorneys, contact us today.

Knowing the SSA’s decision on your initial application may take between 5 to 9 months. You may check your application status by logging in to your Social Security online account or getting in touch with the SSA. Once the decision has been made, you will receive a letter in your mail indicating whether your claim was approved or denied. If denied, you are given 60 days to submit an appeal. If you filed an appeal, you will have to wait longer for the decision. Read more about the appeals process. 

When applying for the first time, it is advisable to have the following documents ready for a higher chance of approval: birth certificate or baptismal certificate, 

proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status, U.S. military discharge papers (if in the military before 1968), Wage and Tax Settlement (W-2) Form (for self-employed), tax returns, proof of compensation or any form of benefits received, medical evidence, and contact details of your medical doctors, therapists, nurses and health institutions.

As long as you qualify for both programs, you may concurrently apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and receive SSDI benefits while receiving SSI payments.

Appealing Denied Claims

Some common reasons behind denied claims include insufficient evidence of having a severe disability, not meeting the eligibility criteria of the program applied for, not enough work credits or work history (for SSDI claims), high income, and resources (for SSI claims), misinformation in your initial application. However, even if you got rejected the first time, you may still be able to receive benefits eventually if you win your case in an appeal. Contact an appeals lawyer to discuss how you can file a request for reconsideration, request for a hearing, or review by the Appeals Council.

If your claim was denied, you will receive a written notice informing you how the SSA arrived at the discussion and the deadline for any appeals.  The SSA has established a four-stage appeals process for any individual who disagrees with their initial decision:

STAGE 1: Request for Reconsideration

STAGE 2: Hearing

STAGE 3: Appeals Council Review

STAGE 4: Federal Court

Because the procedure is a long and complex battle, it is important to contact an experienced lawyer who can guide you throughout the process.

Learn more about appeals by visiting the File An Appeal section.

Each social security potential beneficiary who gets rejected during an initial application is given a chance in filing an appeal, called a request for reconsideration, within 60 days upon receipt of the written notice of decision sent by the Social Security Office.

In a request for reconsideration (stage 1 appeal), the chances of winning are low since the majority of requests get rejected by the SSA. However, your chances improve in a hearing (stage 2 appeal) with as high as half of all applicants getting approved. Beyond this, however (stages 3 and 4), chances for winning are very low and may only be possible with the help of an experienced disability lawyer.

A hearing is the next level in the appeals process when your request for reconsideration has been denied. Hearings are conducted before an administrative law judge (ALJ) who can either award you with disability benefits, send you back to the SSA for a review, or deny your claim. Claimants will be evaluated by the ALJ with the assistance of a  vocational expert or a medical expert. If you reach this stage but do not want to personally appear at any hearing, your lawyer may represent you. In addition, your social security attorney may draft a letter to the ALJ requesting the release of a decision based on all available evidence in your file.

When you disagree with the SSA’s decision on your claim, you will have to submit an appeal and provide additional information or new evidence to support your initial claim. You need to follow the SSA’s process for appeals where you normally go to different stages until you’ve reached a satisfactory decision. These stages include requesting for reconsideration, requesting a hearing, requesting the Appeals Council to review your case, or filing a civil action at the federal court.

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