Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions When Applying For Social Security Disability

1. What is the definition of “disability” and “Social Security 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).  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?

SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. It is a federally funded program that is designed to assist disabled individuals with limited financial resources.

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.")

3. How much can I receive?

For SSI, the current maximum monthly benefits for an individual is $733 ($1,100 for a couple).    

For SSDI, the more FICA taxes you pay, the more benefits you will receive. The current maximum monthly benefits for an individual is $2,639 (2016). Additional monthly benefits may be given to an individual's spouse and dependents. The amount of benefits that can be paid out to dependents depends on a number of variables. In general, benefits paid to dependents can be between 50% and 80% of the disabled worker’s benefit amount.

4. 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 winning. The whole process can take around 24 months. (4 months at the initial level, 4 months for the first appeal, and 16 months for the second appeal).

5. How can I apply?

There are four ways. (1) Apply online at the government website at (ssa.gov/applyfordisability); (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; (4) Hire a law firm.

6. 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.

7.  Will my unearned income affect my disability?

For SSI, yes. If the resources are too high, it may prevent you from being qualified. For SSDI, no, unearned income has no impact on your disability.

8. What should I do if I get denied?

If you have been denied, do not give up! The government's own studies show that the vast majority of all applicants are denied at the initial level. Many of those that appealed their decision went on to ultimately win their case.

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 at (210) 340-8877. In addition, you can visit the government website at www.ssa.gov.

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