Social Security Disability FAQ
SSDI is the social security disability insurance benefits program administered by the Social Security Administration. Every worker who has a job who pays into social security can earn eligibility for SSDI and can be covered if he or she develops a qualifying medical problem or impairment.
While SSDI is intended to make sure the disabled can support themselves, applying for and obtaining benefits can be very complex. A Boston social security disability lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC can help you earn the benefits to which you are entitled. You can also get answers to some of the most common questions below.
What are social security disability benefits?
Social security disability benefits are benefits paid by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to the disabled. The Social Security Administration provides these benefits to those who have a long-term condition that has lasted at least a year, that is going to last for a year or that is a fatal condition. Social security disability benefits are different from workers' compensation benefits, veteran's benefits or private disability insurance. It may be possible to obtain benefits from multiple sources, depending upon your situation.
Who is eligible for SSDI benefits?
You can become eligible for SSDI benefits by earning "work credits." One work credit is earned each time you make $1,160 in covered earnings (earnings from which the social security tax is deducted). Your age at the time of your disability determines whether you have enough work credits. For example, someone disabled at age 24 or under only needs six credits earned any time within the three years before developing a disability. There is a chart on the SSA website detailing how many work credits you need based on your age.
How is disability defined when obtaining benefits?
The SSA limits benefits to people who meet a specific definition of "disability." They have prepared a " Blue Book" or listing of impairments that outlines some medical problems and conditions that usually make a person disabled for purposes of applying for benefits. For each listed condition or problem in the blue book, there are a specific set of symptoms that must be exhibited. So, you must not only have a listed condition but you must also exhibit the symptoms required at the frequency required in order to be considered disabled.
If you do not have a listed condition, then you can qualify for benefits only by proving that your condition is medically equivalent to those the SSA has identified. Proving medical equivalence can be an uphill battle and you'll want a Boston social security disability lawyer to help.
How do I apply for benefits?
To apply for disability benefits, you can begin the application process online at the SSA website. You may also visit your local social security office. When you apply, you will need to provide information on your work history and other your personal information. You will also need to release your medical records to the Social Security Administration so it can evaluate the records and determine if you are sufficiently disabled.
What types of medical records do I need to qualify for benefits?
The SSA wants to see that you have been diagnosed with a covered condition and that you exhibit required symptoms for that condition. You must have medical records proving your condition and impairment. These should come from a specialist so, for example, if you have a heart problem the medical records should be prepared by a cardiologist. The medical records should also be provided by the physician(s) who treat you regularly and who provide you with ongoing medical care.
How long will it take to get an answer?
On average, it can take 4-6 months before you get an answer on whether your claim is approved or denied. However, with larger application volumes in recent years, your claim may take even longer to be reviewed. If your application is incomplete or you do not provide required information, then your application can be further delayed. To avoid this delay, it is advisable to have a Boston social security disability lawyer assist in preparing your benefits application.
How much will my benefits pay?
The amount of SSDI benefits that you receive each month will vary depending upon how much you made when you were working. In 2013, the average monthly benefit payout was $1,132. The maximum monthly payout as of 2013 is $2,533.
Am I eligible for Medicare when I have SSDI benefits?
When you are receiving SSDI benefits, you can become eligible for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period. Medicare is a type of insurance offered through the government that offers hospitalization insurance (Medicare Part A); general healthcare coverage (Medicare Part B); and prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D). You do not qualify for Medicare during the 24 month waiting period but you may be able to get insurance through Medicaid if you meet state income limits and have no other source of insurance.
Are there other disability benefits available?
SSDI is not your only option for obtaining disability benefits. Those with low incomes and few resources may also qualify for supplemental security income (SSI) from the Social Security Administration. For individuals who were hurt at work, workers' compensation benefits may be available. In some cases, it is possible to qualify for more than one type of disability benefits although your benefits for each individual program might be reduced if you receive compensation from multiple sources.
Can I work while I am receiving benefits?
When you are applying for SSDI benefits, you may not be earning substantial gainful income (SGA). If you earn more than $1,040 per month (or $1,740 if you are blind), then you are engaged in SGA and cannot qualify.
If you have already been approved and are receiving benefits then you may be able to work through the SSA's Trial Work Period. Under the trial work period rules, you can work for up to nine months over a rolling 60 month period before your benefits are affected. The nine months don't have to be consecutive and you are considered to have worked in any month where you earn more than $750.00 (after expenses) or spend more than 80 hours working on building your own business.
After your nine month trial work period is over, you have another 36 months of extended eligibility wherein you can receive benefits in any month where you do not make $1,040 or more during the month.
How long can my benefits continue?
Your benefits can continue as long as you continue to meet the SSA's definition of disabled and as long as you do not begin earning income. While you may be subject to periodic review to ensure you are still disabled, your benefits can theoretically continue until retirement at which time you will become eligible for SSA retirement benefits.
What if my benefits claim is denied?
If your benefits claim is denied, you should consult with a Boston disability attorney right away. There are four different stages of appeal that are available to those who were denied benefits. The majority of people are denied, and appeal is the best chance you have after a denial to receive benefits. The first stage involves a request for reconsideration, after which you will have a disability benefits hearing, an appeal to a review board and an appeal to a federal court. There are strict time limits for appealing so do not hesitate once your claim is denied.
Should I get help from an attorney?
When you are disabled and cannot work, SSDI may be your best chance to receive benefits to support yourself. Unfortunately, more than half of all applications for SSDI benefits are initially denied. Having a lawyer gives you the best chance of getting approved since your attorney knows and understand the disability benefits system.
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