Social Security Disability Benefit Frequently Asked Questions

What is Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability is a government program that aims to help financially support those who are physically restricted in their ability to be employed because of a notable disability.

In this way, the program covers both those who formerly worked and those who have never had the opportunity to work due to a disability. If you can't sustain and regularly attend full-time work, you should qualify for disability.

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What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

The main difference between SSDI and SSI is the revenue source through which they are funded. SSDI is funded through FICA and Social Security taxes. SSI is not financed through Social Security, but rather through general tax revenues. The qualifications for SSDI and SSI also differ.

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough – and recently enough - and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.

How do I qualify for SSD?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines “Disability” as any injury or disease that prevents you from doing the work you did before or from adjusting to any other sort of work. Your disability should be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

Your disability should prevent you from earning a $1000 average monthly salary. Your condition must be severe enough that it prevents you from performing basic work-related tasks in order for your Social Security Disability claim to be considered. In order to determine if your disability is severe, the SSA has a list of Medical Conditions for each of the major body systems. However, even if your condition is not found on the list, you may still qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

Should I apply for SSDI or SSI?

To qualify for SSDI benefits, the Social Security Administration states that you must have earned 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the last five years. However, younger workers can qualify with fewer credits. Usually, if you are working full-time, you can earn up to four credits per year. Thus, you must have worked at least five of the last ten years in some kind of full-time work, unless you are under age 31.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) offers benefits based on financial need and does not have any employment requirements. SSI benefits are paid not only to disabled people who do not have much income but also to blind and disabled children. To qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet the criteria outlined by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

How long does it take to apply and qualify for Social Security Disability?

Initial claims usually take 30 to 90 days to process. If you are one of the lucky people who gets approval on their initial claim, it will take you 90 days or less for Social Security Disability approval. If, however, your claim is not approved then at this point you will have to go through the disability appeal process, and that means it will take longer to get your Social Security Disability benefits.

Another factor that will impact how quickly your Social Security Disability application is approved or denied is what medical records are needed to process your claim, and how long it takes your doctors to send in the records that have been requested. If enough medical evidence isn't presented in your records, the Social Security Administration may require you meet with one of their doctors for further review.

Tips for getting approved fast:

  • Provide ALL medical evidence
  • Add all your doctors to your application
  • Collect letter's from your doctors
  • Monitor your claim's progress
  • Consider working with an attorney

Do I have to pay taxes on my Social Security Benefits?

For the most part, these benefits are tax-free, as to qualify to receive benefits you must not be able to work for a year or more as well as meet their income eligibility requirements. While most benefit recipients will not pay taxes, there are situations where you may need to pay federal income taxes on your Social Security benefits.

If your total benefits exceed the below limits, you will need to pay taxes on a portion of your benefits.

  • If you file taxes Single – You will need to pay taxes if your combined income is more than $25,000
  • If you file taxes as Married filing Jointly – You will need to pay taxes if your combined income is more than $32,000

What are the recognized disability conditions by the Social Security Association?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) awards Social Security Disability benefits based on the type of disabling condition the claimant is suffering from. These are conditions that affect an individual’s ability to gain substantial employment. The SSA's impairment listing manual, also known as the "Blue Book," contains a list of these conditions.

  • Cardiovascular System
  • Digestive System
  • Endocrine System
  • Genitourinary Impairments
  • Hematological Disorders
  • Immune System Disorder
  • Malignant Neoplastic Diseases
  • Mental Disorders
  • Multiple Body System Impairments
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Neurological Problems
  • Respiratory System
  • Skin Disorders
  • Special Senses and Speech

Why was my SSDI claim denied?

Most times, a social security disability claim is denied for the following reasons:

  • The claim is not backed up by enough medical documentation
  • The medical evidence does not meet the disability requirements to make the claim
  • Errors in the application

Many social security disability claims are denied at first, and there are a few options of how to move forward if your claim was denied. The best way to move forward is to appeal your case, instead of re-applying. This prevents you from having to file claims one after the other, when you are unsure of the reason your claim was denied. With the help of an attorney, the appeal process can be simple.

What is the Social Security Blue Book?

The Blue Book covers both physical and mental impairments, and it discusses many serious diseases that can be disabling. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the Blue Book to determine whether someone has a disability that prevents them from working.

At step three of the five-part disability evaluation process, the SSA reviews an applicant's medical records to decide whether his or her medical condition (called an “impairment”) meets the requirements of a disability listing found in the Blue Book (also known as the Listing of Impairments). If so, the applicant will be found disabled.

How can I prepare for my disability interview with the Social Security Administration?

If you are applying for Social Security disability benefits, it is important to be prepared for a multi-phase, intensive review process that is conducted by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”).

One of the primary reasons you have to participate in an interview with a representative from the SSA is because the SSA wants to ensure you have a disability that qualifies for benefits.

To prepare, you should:

  • Review medical records before the interview
  • Be direct and provide sufficient detail that addresses the specific question
  • Proper preparation is important
  • You should consider contacting an experienced disability benefits lawyer

What is Social Security Disability Reconsideration?

Once an initial claim is denied, reconsideration is the second step in the overall application process and while redundant, it is still a necessary step to take. Claimants cannot request a hearing before a judge (the third step) without going through reconsideration first.

Upon initial denial, the Disability Determination Service will send a letter explaining why your disability claim was denied along with a request form for reconsideration. This form must be filled out and returned within sixty (60) days of the initial denial. During this time, additional information can also be gathered and added to the particular claim that is under review.

Can I receive Social Security Disability benefits if I am working?

For SSI, you can begin to work and continue to receive benefits as long as your wages and other resources do not exceed the SSA’s income limit for SSI; however, your monthly benefit amount will be reduced in proportion to your income.

For SSDI, generally speaking, an individual must be unable to work as a result of their disability for them to be eligible to receive disability benefits as financial support. While that is the case for many recipients, there are some situations where an individual may be able to perform some work in order to earn an income as they wait for their benefits application to be processed.

Can I receive worker’s compensation and SSD benefits at the same time?

The short answer is yes, you can receive both Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if you qualify for both disability benefits and workers' compensation.

They are separate programs. SSDI, which is run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), is a federal program. Workers Compensation programs are run by your home state.

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