Social Security Disability FAQs: Benefits & Application Basics
If you or someone you know is facing financial stress due to disability, the topic of filing for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits has most likely come up. The application process often results in more questions than answers – which ultimately leaves the person needing these benefits confused and unsure how to proceed. Our attorneys have compiled the questions we hear the most in helping our clients navigate the complicated legal process.
Read on for a breakdown of SSD questions, answers, and important tips on understanding how to qualify and even more so: apply.
What To Know Before Applying For Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration is who decides if you are disabled and qualify for benefits. Working with an experienced SSD attorney can help clarify your case prior to filing to ensure you have the best chance possible of getting what’s rightfully yours.
Before starting your application, keep these questions in mind to make the process as simple as humanly possible.
What Are The Different Types Of Social Security Disability Benefits?
There are two types of Social Security disability benefits: SSD and Social Security Income (SSI). Both types of benefits require you to be disabled from ANY work activity for a minimum of 12 months. However, before Social Security considers your medical conditions, you must first meet additional requirements for each program.
In order to be eligible to file for SSD benefits, you must have worked and earned enough credits to be “insured.” In short, you must have worked and paid Social Security taxes for five of the last 10 years to be insured.
- Don’t know if you’re insured for SSD? A great way to find out is by setting up a myssa.gov account. These accounts are easy to set up and will provide you with all types of Social Security information – including your monthly benefit rate when you retire (both the early retirement and full retirement age amounts) and your complete wage history. Additionally, you can determine if you are insured for SSD, how much monthly SSD benefits would be (based on your earnings), and even the status of your disability application. The myssa.gov account is, quite simply, an electronic copy of the paper letters Social Security used to mail out every couple of years. We highly encourage everyone to set up an account – it is very simple to do and much easier than calling the Social Security office. You can set up an account any time here.
If you are not insured for SSD benefits based on your own wages, you may be able to collect under your parents or your spouse/ex-spouse. See the below links for information regarding Disabled Adult Child benefits and Disabled Widow(er)’s Benefits:
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is another option if you are not insured for SSD. Eligibility for the SSI program is asset and income related – your household income/asset level must be below certain criteria to qualify. Determine your SSI eligibility here.
How Do I File For Social Security Disability?
If you wish to file a disability application, you can do so over the phone or online. Filing online is the easiest and quickest way to apply. You will need a lot of information when filing the application. Make sure to double check you have all the information required ahead of time to make things easier on yourself.
If you are not comfortable filing an online application, you can call your local Social Security office and schedule a phone appointment. You can find the number for your local Social Security office here. Please be aware that most Social Security offices are backed up and are scheduling phone application appointments several weeks to several months out from the date of initial contact.
How Long Will It Take Social Security To Make A Decision On My Application?
After submitting your initial application, it usually takes 4-5 months to hear back from the Social Security Administration.
If they deny your application, you have 60 days to file an appeal, called a Request for Reconsideration. Social Security will then update your records again and issue another decision in approximately 4 months. They may also send you out for a physical or mental evaluation at the initial or Reconsideration stage and they will likely send you forms to complete about your work history and activities of daily living.
If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, you will have 60 days to file an appeal, called a Request for Hearing. At this level, you will be scheduled for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge, where you will testify, along with a vocational expert, and possibly a medical expert. Currently, Administrative Law Judges are holding hearings by phone, video, and occasionally in person. The wait for a hearing to be scheduled could range anywhere from approximately 6-12 months (currently) from the time that you file the Request for Hearing.
What Evidence Does Social Security Consider When Evaluating My Disability Application?
The most important information Social Security reviews is your medical records. This includes:
- Doctor appointment notes
- Emergency/hospital records
- Objective testing (x-rays, MRIs, etc.)
Social Security will also consider forms from you describing your daily activities and symptoms, as well as forms completed by your physicians indicating your limitations in work-related activities, such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, focusing and concentrating, remembering tasks, dealing with coworkers, etc. Support from your medical providers is very important and can make the difference in an approval or denial of benefits.
Can I Work And Apply For Social Security Benefits?
Most people who file for SSD or SSI benefits have stopped working completely prior to filing a disability application. However, it is possible to work a small amount while an application is pending, but you must be earning less than Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), which is set at $1,350 for 2022. You can continue earning under SGA while your claim is pending, but it is important that you are not working many hours or doing heavy, physical work.
Learn everything you need to know about working while disabled.
Agee Clymer Can Help Simplify The SSD Filing Process
Our attorneys have seen just about every SSD case from children to adults. We understand how frustrating the filing process can be. Let us take out the guesswork for you and clear up any SSD and/or SSI benefit questions you may have. Call 614-221-3318 and ask to speak with Stacy Meloun today!