Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Social Security Disability Law and Benefits
Q: Do I qualify for disability benefits?
A: There are 5 steps to determine eligibility:
- You do not earn more than $1,000 per month
- You have a serious medical condition supported by medical records
- Your records may prove you meet a listing based on your condition, or if not,
- You are unable to perform the work you did during the 15 years prior to your disability, which may qualify you for benefits based on your age, work history and educational background, and if not,
- You are not able to engage in any work within the national economy
Q: How do I apply?
A: Contact your nearest local Social Security Administration to apply in person, over the phone, or apply online at: www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. You can call 1-800-772-1213 to find out where your local office is and schedule and appointment to apply by mail, phone or in person. (Deaf services # is 1-800-325-0778)
Q: Can I work and collect Social Security Disability?
A: Yes, if you earn less than $1,000 per month and you collect SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). If you collect SSI (Supplemental Security Income) your income will be deducted from any benefits.
Q: What is the difference between SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)?
A: SSDI is for people that paid enough taxes into the system to qualify for this disability benefit. Your assets or living arrangements have no bearing on this benefit. SSI is for people that are disabled, but did not pay taxes into the system to qualify and they meet financial requirements. They must have assets valued at less than $1,000 in assets per individual.
Q: Does my medical condition qualify me for benefits?
A: Many medical conditions, properly documented, may qualify you for benefits by themselves but usually your age, education and work history are also taken into account.
Q: What do lawyers charge?
A: All lawyers must comply with federal law that requires all fees to be approved by a judge and are limited to 25% of back due benefits awarded with a maximum fee of $6,000.00.
Q: What if the Social Security Administration denies my claim?
A: You have 60 days to file an appeal of any unfavorable decisions from the SSA. If you fail to file an appeal in a timely fashion, you might lose valuable benefits.
Q: If my doctor says I can’t work, do I automatically get benefits?
A: No. Your doctor may feel you can’t work but doctors can only give opinions about the patient’s impairments or what the patient is unable to do as a result of their medical condition, symptoms and treatment.
Q: Can people with psychiatric problems qualify for benefits?
A: Yes, if the condition is documented and severe enough to prevent the person from being able to function well enough to work.
Q: What if I have two or more serious medical problems?
A: The Social Security Administration is required to consider the combined effect of all your impairments.
Q: What if I try to get back to work but fail?
A: The Social Security Administration will allow disabled persons to engage in a 3-month “trial work period” to see if they can work. Your benefits do not change unless you continue to work past the 3 months.