Social Security Disability FAQ'S

The process required to institute a Social Security disability claim, or to appeal an unfavorable decision rendered, is plagued with red tape. The social security lawyer team at Michael J. O'Connor & Associates are experienced in the process and have prepared the following list of some commonly asked questions pertaining to social security disability.

Who may receive Social Security Disability Benefits - only adults or children as well?

Both adults and children are eligible to receive Social Security Disability Benefits, applying to three different situations:

A. Disabled Adult Child Benefits - there is a requirement that the child must be disabled prior to turning 22. If that requirement is met, then the benefit goes to the child or children of the person or persons who are deceased, or who are receiving Social Security disability or retirement benefits.

B. Disability Insurance Benefits - you must have worked in five of the last ten years, and be presently disabled to qualify for this type of benefit.

C. Disabled Widow's and Widower's Benefits - there are several requirements to qualify for this type of benefit. First, the deceased spouse must have worked for a sufficient time to be insured under Social Security. Secondly, the individual to whom the benefit is to be paid must be at least fifty years old. Finally, the individual to whom the benefit is to be paid must have become disabled within a certain amount of time following the death of the spouse.

Note: "Disabled" is defined under the Social Security Act as, "an inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death, or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months".

I am currently staying at home to raise my children and have recently become sick, however I previously was part of the work force - can I get Social Security Disability Benefits?

You may be eligible to receive social security disability benefits. The first question to be answered is, within the previous ten years, were you a part of the work force for a minimum of five years? If the answer is yes, then you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits, largely dependent upon whether or not you have sufficient earnings during the time that you did work. If you are under the age of 31, your requirements to qualify may be different as you have not had as much time to work. Whether or not you will qualify is largely based on your past earnings, so even if you are not currently working you may still qualify for SS disability benefits.

In addition, if you are a homemaker with a limited income you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) even if you have never worked in the past.

If I am collecting Social Security Disability benefits, am I still able to work to supplement my income?

Yes, however there is a specified limit as to the amount you can earn per month, ($810.00), and still be qualified to receive Social Security Disability benefits. An exception is made if you are blind, allowing you to earn a maximum amount of $1,350.00 and still be eligible for benefits. If you earn over and above these limits, SSA may consider the difference to be "substantial gainful activity" and consequently disqualify you for disability benefits.

When may I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits - must I consume my entire savings first?

No, you are not required to first consume your entire savings before applying for Social Security benefits. If you are currently disabled and have also worked at least five of the past ten years, you may apply for Social Security disability benefits, Disabled Widow or Widower's benefits, or, Disabled Adult Child Benefits.

After becoming disabled, must I wait any specific time period before filing for Social Security Disability?

No. After becoming disabled, the Social Security Administration does not specify a time period you must wait before filing for disability. In fact, our office recommends that you file as soon as possible as it may take considerable time to process your claim. If you need assistance in filing your claim or have any questions regarding your claim, contact Michael J. O'Connor & Associates. We have experienced social security lawyers on our side.

Are there any differences between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSD)?

Yes, while both programs provide benefits to the disabled, there are several distinct differences between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

First, the programs are not financed the same way. The Social Security Administration administers SSDI, through which benefits are paid via taxes already collected for each individual working. The amount of benefits for which you are eligible upon becoming disabled is determined by assessing the earning history of the individual insured (i.e. the parent, the spouse or the individual).

The Social Security Administration also administers SSI, however, the benefits are derived from general tax revenues. Several factors including the federal base rate you may be able to claim due to your disability are taken into consideration.

I am receiving workers' compensation as I was injured during the course of my employment - am I also eligible to receive Social Security Benefits simultaneously?

Yes, you are eligible to receive both Workers' Compensation Benefits and Social Security Disability benefits simultaneously. However, any workers' compensation benefits you are currently receiving will be taken into consideration by the Social Security Administration to determine the amount of disability benefits for which you are eligible.

I am currently on sick leave from my employment - may I also file for Social Security Disability?

Yes, you may apply for Social Security Disability benefits while you are currently on sick leave from your employment. Any benefits provided by your employer are considered separate from any benefits you would receive from the Social Security Administration. Furthermore, if you think that your time out of work may be substantial, you should file for benefits as soon as possible, as the review process involved in disability claims can be time consuming and lengthy. To expedite the handling of your claim, it is recommended that you file immediately following your disability.

In order to apply for Social Security disability benefits, what must I do?

There are three options offered by the Social Security Administration for filing a disability claim.

First, you may file your claim electronically. You can visit the Social Security Administration website and complete the form on line. Click here to be taken directly to the form.

Second, you may file your claim by making an appointment to meet with a representative at your local Social Security Administration office. The representative will take your information at the meeting and subsequently file your claim. Click here to find a Social Security office near you.

Finally, you may file your claim as a walk-in at your local Social Security office, however, you will be required to wait for an available representative. There is the possibility that it may only take minutes however it could also take several hours in order to meet with the representative, so be prepared to wait if you select this option. Click here to find a Social Security office near you.

After applying for Social Security disability benefits, when can I anticipate a decisions as to whether or not my claim has been accepted and approved?

In 2003, on average it took approximately 97 days to receive notification of your disability claim, as per the Social Security Administration. Dependant upon the nature of your disability, additional medical examinations may be required by the Social Security Administration. This may result in a delay of the decision making process while the Social Security Administration waits for additional physician reports and medical records.

What are my options if my Social Security disability claim is denied?

If your initial social security disability claim is denied and you consider your claim to be legitimate, you should appeal the decision, and request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. If you are considering appealing the decision and have not already secured legal representation, it would be advisable to hire an experienced social security lawyer to assist you with your appeal.

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