SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY / SSI
Questions & Answers
About Social Security Disability & SSI
Q. What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability is a federal program that pays cash benefits
to people who, because of physical, emotional or mental disability,
are unable to work for at least a full year.
Q. What is SSI?
SSI - Supplemental Security Income - is a federal benefit program available
to those who are totally disabled and whose income and assets fall within
certain limits. No previous work history is required for SSI.
In some cases, children can obtain SSI benefits.
Q. Will SSD/SSI replace all my lost income?
A. SSD/SSI won't replace all your lost income, but it is a safety
Q. What are your fees?
The Social Security Administration governs our fees. Our typical
fee is 25 percent of the retroactive (back) award, not to exceed $5,300.
We do not charge a fee unless we are successful in obtaining your benefits.
Q. What is SSDI?
A. Social Security Disability Income is a
tax-funded, federal insurance program. Its purpose is to provide
income to people to work because of disability.
Q. How do you qualify for SSDI?
A. You must be insured. That
means you must have worked and paid into the program (mandatory payroll
taxes) for five of the last 10 years. You must also meet Social
Security's definition of disability.
Q. What is Social Security's definition of disability?
A. Generally, it is being unable to
work because of a verifiable mental or physical impairment expected
to result in death, or has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least
Q. Is it difficult to get SSDI benefits?
A. Yes. SSA denies about 60 percent
of the people filing initial applications.
Q. How often is Garner & Arnic, Attorneys At
A. Our overall award rate is about
80 to 90 percent.
Q. Do I need a representative?
A. No. However, our representatives
will dramatically improve your chances of receiving disability benefits.
Q. Why should I choose Garner & Arnic, LLP, Attorneys
At Law to help me get SSDI?
- Our hassle-free service minimizes
your contact with SSA
- You stay at home, we do the
work. We complete applications and develop medical documents
over the phone.
- If it becomes necessary for
you to appear before an administrative law judge, we will thoroughly
prepare you and appear with you at the hearing.
Time Frame for Getting Benefits
Q. How long does it take to receive SSD/SSI
A. The length of time varies widely. 38% of claims
get approved at the initial application level. For those clients, benefits
can start as early as a few months from the time the application was
However, most claims go to the hearing stage before they are approved.
At this stage, 62% of those that appeal are approved and it takes, on
average, 18 to 24 months from the initial filing to receipt of the first
Q. I don't have a family doctor that I see regularly. How
will the Social Security Administration (SSA) get the medical reports
they need for my claim?
A. It is important to see a doctor so that your
medical problems can be documented for the Social Security Administration.
The more the doctor treats you for your disability-related problems,
the better your chances of winning your claim. If you have limited financial
resources, you may be able to obtain treatment through one of your local
Q. My doctor thinks I can work, but I don't
feel that I can because of my problems. Should I switch doctors?
should consider at least consulting with another doctor. It is extremely
important for your claim to have your doctor's support. However, you
also have to consider what is best for you medically. You must weigh
the possible benefit of switching doctors against any medical risk you
might be taking.
Q. What should I do if the Social Security
Administration denies my application for the first time?
A. For many claimants, receiving a denial is a major setback. Although
they have been told to initially expect the worst, it can come as a
shock and be very discouraging. Simply the long process of obtaining
SSD/SSI benefits can wear even those who are otherwise emotionally healthy
down. It is very important not to get discouraged. You should file a
request for a hearing as soon as possible.
Q. I got a denial notice three months ago,
but I was in the hospital for the last two months. Is it too late to
You generally have 60 days to submit an appeal after receiving a denial
notice. However, under certain circumstances the Social Security Administration
will accept a late appeal. Some reasons the Social Security Administration
might consider a "good cause" for filing a late appeal are:
having a serious illness or being hospitalized during the 60-day appeal
time; having limited mental capacity to understand the appeal process;
and not having received written notice of the denial.
If your reason for appealing late is not accepted as good cause, you
can still file a new application and request reopening of the prior
application. Unfortunately you will be starting the process over, but
the good news is that if your claim is approved and the reopening is
granted, your back benefits may extend as far back as they would have
with the original application.
Assets/Earned Income-Effect on SSD Benefit
Q. Can I receive benefits if I have a lot of
money in the bank?
A. Social Security Disability benefits are not based on financial need
and therefore do not require you to fall within income/asset limits
(except where the income is earned by working). If you meet the work
history requirements and SSA determines that you are totally disabled,
you will receive SSD benefits regardless of how much money you have
in the bank.
Q. Can I earn income while I am receiving Social
A. This is very tricky. Technically, you are allowed
to earn income as long as it is under $830 per month. However, any ability
to earn money by working could possibly be used against you. The closer
the amount is to $830 per month, the greater the risks that SSA will
decide you are capable of working.
While your claim is still pending, any employment is extremely risky.
Again, you must weigh your need for additional money against the risk
of losing your claim.
Workers' Compensation-Effect On SSD
Q. I was awarded Workers' Compensation benefits.
Will the Compensation Board's decision improve my chances of winning
Social Security Disability benefits?
Winning Workers' Compensation benefits will have little or no impact
on Social Security's decision to award or deny you disability benefits.
However, if your SSD claim is approved, the amount you receive could
be affected by the amount of your Workers' Compensation benefit.
Q. I am receiving Social Security Disability.
If I take a lump sum settlement from Workers' Compensation, how will
my Social Security benefit be affected?
A. Depending on how the Workers' Compensation
Board structures your lump sum settlement, the Social Security Administration
may prorate the amount of your settlement over a specified length of
time. Your SSD benefit would then be adjusted as if you were still receiving
weekly Workers' Compensation benefits until the specified length of
If you are in the process of structuring a Workers' Compensation lump-sum
settlement and you are also applying for SSD, consult your attorney
about your situation before deciding on the terms of your Workers' Compensation
SSD/SSI Benefits-Temporary vs. Indefinite
Q. What if I was out of work due to disability,
but I've since returned to work? Can I get benefits for the time I was
A. Social Security requires that you be disabled
from working for at least a full year in order to collect benefits (this
doesn't mean you can't apply before the year is up; but if you do, your
doctor has to support your claim that you will be out of work for at
least a year due to disability).
If you later return to work, you may still qualify for benefits at least
for the period you were off due to disability (minus the five-month
waiting period for SSD). This is called a "closed period of benefits."
You might even be able to collect while you are attempting to return
to work, depending on circumstances.