1. What is Social Security Disability?
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program provide assistance to people with disabilities.
2. What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an insurance program for individuals who are disabled and have paid sufficient FICA taxes. Eligibility is determined by two measures; recent work which is based on your age at the time of your disability and duration of work or how long you worked and paid social security taxes on your wages. (SSDI is sometimes called "DIB" or "Title 2 Benefits.")
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a different program because it is not based on prior work contributions. It is however, funded from personal and corporate income taxes, but separate from the Social Security Trust Fund. Generally, benefits are available to adults and children who have limited income and resources.
3. What is the definition of "disability"?
The Social Security Administration requires strict definitions of disabilities. For an adult, disability is the inability to do any Substantial Gainful Activity because of a condition that is expected to last at least 12months; or result in death. For a child, disability is considered if child has “marked and severe limitations” that are expected to last at least 12 months; or result in death.
4. How much can I receive?
For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the current maximum monthly benefits for an individual is $733 and the max for a couple is $1,100.
For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the maximum amount of benefits will depend on your average lifetime wages prior to your disability. The current (2016) maximum monthly benefits for an individual are around $2,639. Family members may also receive benefits. Additional monthly benefits may be given to an individual's spouse and children. The largest dependent benefit amount is usually 50%-80% of the disabled worker’s rate.
5. How long does a decision take?
Applicants can win a few months after they apply. For most people, however, getting their Social Security disability benefits is a lengthy process. Most people will go through two levels of appeals before a decision is made. The first stage of the process is the initial claims stage. This stage can take 4-6 months. If you are denied at the initial claim stage, an appeal it made for reconsideration, this process can take 4-5 months. If you receive an unfavorable decision at this stage, you may request for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. It can take 16-20 months for a hearing to be scheduled. A decision is mailed approximately 2-3 months after the hearing date. The whole process can take up to 3 years.
6. How can I apply?
There are three ways to apply for benefits:
(1) Apply online at the government website at http://www.ssagov/disability
(2) Call Social Security's toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 to set up a phone appointment; or
(3) Go down to your local Social Security office to apply in person.
Some people feel overwhelmed when trying to apply for benefits. The Packard Law Firm helps people apply for free. We will give you the forms and contact information you need to start your application immediately. We also help people understand how to avoid common pitfalls when applying for benefits.
7. What should I do if I get denied?
If you have been denied, do not give up! The government's own studies show that over 60 percent of all applicants are denied at the initial level. The same studies show that over 60 percent of the people who appealed their denial went on to win their case.
Bottom line: If you appeal, your chances of receiving benefits are twice as good. You have 60 days to file an appeal after receiving a denial notice.
8. Can I try to work while receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?
Yes, you may work and receive social security benefits as long as you are still disabled and earn less than $1,130 a month. In addition, there are federally funded programs and organizations that are designed to help people transition back to work. For example, the Ticket to Work program allows you to work and earn any amount of money for nine months within a sixty-month period without losing your benefits.
9. How much does it cost to hire an attorney?
The government regulates attorney fees. As a result, most attorneys charge 25% of your past due benefits (but not to exceed $6,000). Most attorneys do not charge anything up front and will not charge anything unless you win.
10. Where can I get more free information?Visit our website at www.PackardFirm.com or speak with our Social Security lawyers in San Antonio, Texas at (210)340-8877. In addition, you can visit the government website at www.ssa.gov.