Answering Your FAQ About Social Security Disability And SSI
Garner & Arnic, LLP are nationally recognized SSDI attorneys. One of our attorneys, Kenna Garner, spent years of her legal career working for the Social Security Administration (SSA) as a decision-maker. We have in-depth knowledge about the process and help
What is Social Security Disability?
The Social Security Disability program 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.
What is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 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.
Will SSD/SSI replace all my lost income?
SSD/SSI won’t replace all your lost income, but it is a safety net.
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.
What is SSDI?
Social Security Disability Income is a tax-funded, federal insurance program. Its purpose is to provide income to people unable to work because of disability.
How do you qualify for SSDI?
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.
What is Social Security’s definition of disability?
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 12 months.
Is it difficult to get SSDI benefits?
Yes. SSA denies about 60 percent of the people filing initial applications.
How often is Garner & Arnic, successful?
Our overall award rate is about 80 to 90 percent.
Do I need a representative?
No. However, our representatives will dramatically improve your chances of receiving disability benefits.
How long does it take to receive SSD/SSI benefits?
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 filed. 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 benefit payment.
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?
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 hospital clinics.
My doctor thinks I can work, but I don’t feel that I can because of my problems. Should I switch doctors?
You 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.
What should I do if the Social Security Administration denies my application for the first time?
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.
I got a denial notice three months ago, but I was in the hospital for the last two months. Is it too late to appeal?
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 a good cause, you can still file a new application and request a 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.
Can I receive benefits if I have a lot of money in the bank?
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.
Can I earn income while I am receiving Social Security Disability?
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.
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 the Social Security Administration’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.
I am receiving Social Security Disability. If I take a lump sum settlement from workers’ compensation, how will my Social Security benefit be affected?
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 time expires.
If you are in the process of structuring a workers’ compensation lump-sum settlement and you are also applying for SSD benefits, consult your attorney about your situation before deciding on the terms of your workers’ compensation settlement.e
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 off?
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.