What Most People Want To Know About Social Security Disability and SSI
- Am I disabled enough to get disability?
- How do I apply for Disability?
- What if my application is denied?
- How long does the process take?
- Can I work and still get disability?
- How Much Money Can I Get?
- How much will it cost for your help?
- How much of the time do you win?
- How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?
- What are the financial qualifications for SSI?
- What if I am homeless?
Am I disabled enough to get disability?
This answer depends a bit on your age. If you are younger than 50 you must be so disabled that you cannot do any kind of job for at least a year. It is not enough just to be disabled from your usual job if you could still do an easier job. You are expected to change jobs if you could do another job. But, if you cannot do any job for at least a year you can get temporary benefits even if you can return to work after that. Of course, if you can never return to work your benefits would continue until you reach retirement age.
If you are over 50 it is a little easier. In most cases you only have to show that you cannot do your old job for at least a year. (That includes any full time jobs you've had in the last 15 years.) You are not expected to change to an easier job if you would have to learn one.
How do I apply for Disability?
You have three options:
- Apply online at http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm.
- Apply in person at your local Social Security Office. (Find yours if you don't know where it is at: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/fo001.jsp.
- Call me and let me apply for you with information that you provide to me.
What if my application is denied?
It is very likely that your application will be denied. 70% of all applications are. That doesn't mean that you are not disabled nor entitled to benefits. That just means we must appeal that decision, usually until we get to the hearing where I win most of the time.
How long does the process take?
It usually takes about 4-5 months for a decision on your initial application, then another 3-4 months for a decision on your request for reconsideration, then about 10-14 months before you get to your hearing.
Can I work and still get disability?
Yes, within limits that we can discuss. For more information see (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10095.html)
How Much Money Can I Get?
That depends on which disability program you qualify for and how much you have earned prior to becoming disabled. As a general rule, if you have worked full time for at least 5 of the last 10 years your benefits will be based upon your past income and you can get an estimate of the amount at: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/isss/main.html. If you have not worked that much recently, your benefit will be a flat amount if you are poor enough to need the help. If you are not poor enough, you won't get anything. You can read more on those rules at: http://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-income-ussi.htm. Effective January 1, 2010, the Federal benefit rate for the "needs based" disability is $674.00 for an individual and $1,011.00 for a couple. You can read more about that at: http://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-benefits-ussi.htm.
How much will it cost for your help?
My attorney's fees are contingent on winning. That means that if we don't win (which is extremely rare) I don't get paid any attorney's fees. If we do win, my attorney's fees are 25% of your back benefits accrued up until the time they are awarded and only up to a maximum of $6,000.00. That's the most I can be paid. I do not get any percentage of your ongoing benefits paid to you for the months after we win.
How much of the time do you win?
I have kept track of this for several years now and my records indicate that I win over 95% of the time. So, what that means is that if I take your case you have at least a 95% chance of winning. Those odds are a whole lot better than if you try to do it alone and much better than most of the "big firms." To read about recent victories click here.
How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?
They use a step-be-step process involving five questions. They are:
- Are you working?
If you are working in 2010 and your earnings average more than $1,000 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled. That amount can be increased by certain employment related expenses such as medication you must take to be able to work.
If you are not working, then go to Step 2.
- Is your condition "severe"?
Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, they will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, they go to Step 3.
- Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
For each of the major body systems, they maintain a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled (see list at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/
AdultListings.htm). If your condition is not on the list, they have to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, they will find that you are disabled. If it is not, they then go to Step 4.
- Can you do the work you did previously?
If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then they must determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, they proceed to Step 5.
- Can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, they see if you are able to adjust to other work. They consider your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.
What are the financial qualifications for SSI?
See the SSI Spotlight on Plans to Achieve Self-Support;
See the SSI Spotlight on Student Earned Income Exclusion;
See the SSI Spotlight on Impairment-Related Work Expenses;
See the SSI Spotlight on Special SSI Rule for Blind People Who Work;
What if I am Homeless?
Please visit the web site: Service to the Homeless