Top 10 Questions when Applying For Social Security Disability

1. What is Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability is comprised of two federally funded programs (SSI and SSDI). Both provide financial and medical benefits for individuals who are unable to work because of medical complications.

2. What is the difference between SSI and SSDI?

SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Income. It is an insurance program for individuals who are disabled and have paid sufficient FICA taxes. If you have worked five of the past ten years from the date you became disabled, you have probably paid sufficient FICA taxes to qualify for SSDI. (SSDI is sometimes called "DIB" or "Title 2 Benefits.")

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. It is a federally funded program that is designed to assist disabled individuals with limited financial resources who are not entitled to SSDI. For more information, read about the differences between SSI and SSDI.

3. What is the definition of "disability"?

Generally, you are "disabled" if you have medical problems (mental or physical) that are expected to keep you from working for at least a year (or result in death).

4. How much can I receive?

For SSI, the current maximum monthly benefits for an individual is $674 ($1,011 for a couple). That amount is expected to increase in 2012.

For SSDI, the more FICA taxes you pay, the more benefits you will receive. The current maximum monthly benefits for an individual are around $2,000. Additional monthly benefits may be given to an individual's spouse and children. Currently the maximum family benefits are around $3,400.

5. How long does a decision take?

Some 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 appeal before wining. The whole process can take around 18 months. (4 months at the initial level, 3 months for the first appeal, and 11 months for the second appeal).

6. How can I apply?

There are three ways. (1) Apply online at the government website at (; (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 $1,000 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 or speak wtihour Social Security lawyers at (800) 738-4213. In addition you can visit the government website at

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