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Frequently Asked Questions About Disability Benefits

(Click on a question to see the answer.)

1. What are disability benefits?

Social Security Administration Disability Benefits are monthly payments issued to you because you have one or more impairments that prevent you from working. SSA determines your right to receive these monthly payments based on several issues that can include the severity of your impairment, the length of time your disability is expected to last, your inability to work, your work history, your age, your education and your income and resources.

2. What is SSA's definition of "disability"?

"Disability" is "the inability to do any substantial gainful activity [work] by reason of a 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".

3. How does the disability process work?

There are two programs for SSA disability benefits:

1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
SSDI, referred to as Title 2, provides benefits for any disabled person who is unable to work, due to the severity of their impairment(s), but has a previous work history. You are entitled to this benefit because you paid Social Security or self-employment tax when you were able to work.

and

2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
SSI, referred to as Title 16, provides benefits for any blind, disabled or elderly person (65 years of age or older) who meets certain resource and income rules. Your work history is not a factor. Your financial need for benefits becomes the SSA guideline. This benefit is available to American citizens and qualified applicants you are entitled to these benefits and should employ any and all resources to collect what rightfully is yours.

4. Do I quality for SSDI or SSI benefits?

If you have suffered one or more impairments that prevent you from working (SSDI) and/or you meet certain financial need qualifications (SSI), you can receive SSA disability benefits until age 65. When you reach age 65, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but they amount remains the same.

5. How do I obtain SSDI or SSI benefits?

You have two options to pursue:

1. If you have recently become disabled, there is very helpful information available to help you understand the SSA disability benefit application process. It would be helpful for you to become familiar with the process by reviewing "How To Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits" on the SSA website. When you are confident that you can pursue your own claim, then apply in person at any local Social Security office.

2. You may retain our disability consulting services and allow us to take the burden off of your shoulders and provide you with the technical assistance that you need to achieve the best and quickest award possible.

6. What is my entitlement to back benefits?

In the event that you are filing a claim some time after you became disabled, you may be entitled to receive back benefits from the date you became disabled, however, they are limited to one year prior to the actual date you filed for benefits.

7. What should I do to begin the process of applying for benefits?

Disability claims generally take much longer to process than other types of Social Security claims, usually from 90 to 120 days or longer. If you decide to apply on your own, you can help shorten the process by taking certain documents with you to your local SSA office.

The Disability Report Form Guide on the SSA web site is an extremely helpful tool to educate you on the information that is required to begin your disability claim. The Adult Disability Report is the most important document used in your application for disability benefits and should be completed with great care and detail.

8. What should I be aware of during the application process?

The following are the most common mistakes that you can make to reduce the percentage of chance that you will receive SSA disability benefits:

It is best not to depend upon the Social Security Administration to help you obtain necessary evidence that they need to evaluate your claim.
It is important for you to know that Social Security will not seek out additional information that might help your claim, unless they are specifically made aware of it. If you allege only one impairment, SSA will only evaluate the impairment that you identified. If you suffer from multiple impairments that contribute to your inability to work, then you, or your representative, must identify all of the impairments and provide the pertinent evidence to SSA so that you will have a better percentage of chance for a favorable award.

Do not provide more information then is absolutely necessary to the Social Security Administration.
Social Security will seek pertinent information about your claim which you must reveal. However, you are not required to volunteer information that may be harmful to your case. For example, if you are claiming that you are unable to work and at the same time, you reveal that you are able to do gardening in your yard or go roller skating, then these comments could be used by SSA to deny your claim.

It is important to collect all pertinent evidence prior to submitting your application.
If you collect all pertinent medical and/or vocational evidence to show that you are unable to work because of your impairments, you will expedite the processing of your claim and improve your chance of receiving an award of benefits. You will also expedite your claim by providing all of the information at the beginning of the claim process, thereby allowing SSA to make a quick and informed decision. If you provide SSA with the pertinent evidence at the beginning of your application process, you will be taking the proper steps to reduce the time it will take them to reach an informed determination.

Do not give up after you have received your first denial from SSA.
A denial is not a final determination. Unfortunately, people who receive a denial letter from SSA believe that it is final. While it may appear to be an uphill battle to reach your goal of receiving an award of benefits, it need not be. It is best not to be intimidated or frustrated by the receipt of a denial and take the next step toward reaching your goal of benefits.

It is best to seek representation at the first application level.
It is not required that you hire a representative when applying for Social Security disability benefits, however, given the complexities involved in this process, it makes good sense to seek help as soon as possible. Early utilization of my advocacy representation will help you to begin the process on the right foot and help you avoid the common mistakes that can result in a denial of benefits and to avoid lengthy delays of your claim.

9. What should I do if I receive a denial?

Initial Denial

If the Social Security Administration initially denies your request for benefits, they will send you a letter to notify you of this denial, with an explanation as to why. SSA will also advise you how many days that you have to file an appeal of the denial.

(Many states provide you with 60 days to file for reconsideration. Review the SSA website section entitled: The Appeals Process to determine the time period for the filing of a denial in your state. )

Second Denial

If SSA denies you at the second stage of the claims process, and you are convinced that you are entitled to receive benefits, then you should contact a professional disability consultant to help you properly present your case before an Administrative Law Judge.

 

 

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