1) How does the Social Security Administration define disability?
Disability is the 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 which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
2) What are the differences between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
In both SSDI and SSI claims, the claimant must meet the medical requirements for disability. However, in SSDI cases the claimant must also be “insured”. A person becomes “fully insured” when he has worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes. SSDI is not need based, you can have resources (income and assets) and still be eligible for SSDI.
SSI, however, is need based. You do not have to be “insured” to receive benefits, but you are very limited in the resources (income or assets) you can have and still be eligible for benefits.
3) Are the children of a person receiving SSDI benefits eligible for any benefits?
Yes, minor children (under age 18 or 19 if the child is a full-time elementary or secondary school student) are entitled to what are called auxiliary benefits. Also, an adult child of a retired, disabled or deceased wage earner may also be entitled to benefits on the account of a parent.
4) How do I apply for Social Security Benefits?
The best way is to go to your local Social Security office and apply. You may also call and apply by phone or apply online.
5) Can an attorney help me with my claim?
Yes, an attorney can help you at any stage in the process. He or she can help complete the multitude of applications and forms, order all the necessary medical records from your medical providers and submit those records to the Social Security Administration to assure your file is complete. Your attorney can also help by obtaining letters from your treating physicians supporting your claim, which may be very helpful in proving your case.
If a hearing before an administrative law judge is necessary, your attorney will help prepare you for the hearing and accompany you to the hearing.
6) How does an attorney get paid for representing claimants in disability cases?
Typically, an attorney charges 25% of your past due benefits or $6,000.00, whichever is less. If you do not win your case or you do not receive any past due benefits, you do not have to pay your attorney anything.
7) What is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid?
In general, SSDI recipients receive Medicare coverage 24 months after their entitlement to benefits begins. SSI recipients receive Medicaid coverage upon becoming eligible for SSI benefits.
8) How are the amounts of my benefits determined?
Your SSDI benefits are based on your earning and contributions to the Social Security program. You can request a statement from the Social Security Administration showing this information. SSI benefits are based on your income and resources. There is a cap that is adjusted annually.
9) If my claim is denied at the hearing level can I appeal?
Yes, you can ask that your case be reviewed by the Appeals Council.
10) If I am only partially disabled, can I get partial SSDI or SSI benefits?
No, you must be totally disabled to receive either SSDI or SSI benefits. There are no partial benefits.