1. How does the SSA define “disability?”
Social Security has a very strict definition of “disability.” To be considered disabled under the guidelines set forth by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you must meet the following criteria:
- You cannot perform your previous occupation.
- You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).
- Your medical condition(s) must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
2. What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is awarded to disabled people who have worked five of the past ten years and have paid a Social Security tax on their income. The work requirement can be waived for applicants under age 22.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are made on the basis of financial need to adults and children who are disabled, blind, or have limited income and resources. Whereas Social Security Disability (SSDI) is funded from the Social Security tax, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is financed by general tax revenues.
3. How do Military Retirement or VA Disability benefits affect eligibility for SSDI?
Because the Social Security Administration (SSA) is an entirely separate entity from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), it is possible to receive benefits from both organizations concurrently. In many cases, however, even veterans receiving 100% disability benefits from the VA are denied by Social Security. It is always advisable to seek representation before proceeding with an application.
Unlike SSI (Supplemental Security Income), Social Security Disability Insurance is not need-based, but instead it is based upon an individual’s capacity for gainful employment. Therefore, receiving military retirement benefits will not affect a candidate’s eligibility for SSDI.
If you are a disabled veteran receiving military retirement or VA disability benefits and you are considering applying for SSDI, contact a qualified Social Security Representative now.
4. How long should I wait after becoming disabled before I file for Social Security disability?
You are not required to wait. You can file as soon as your condition prevents you from working a full-time job. Many individuals make the mistake of waiting months or years to file a claim, resulting in the loss of thousands in earned benefits.
5. I am on sick leave from my current job. Can I file for Social Security disability now?
Yes. You may file now if you are expected to be out of work for at least one year.
6. I was injured on the job. Can I file for Social Security disability benefits if I have a pending worker’s compensation claim?
You do not have to wait until your worker’s compensation claim is complete. The sooner you file for benefits, the quicker you will be able to collect benefits.
7. Do you have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security disability benefits?
No. You can file a claim if you have a condition that will prevent you from holding a full-time job for a minimum of one year.
8. Why does Social Security consider my age in determining whether I am disabled?
You will have to prove your conditions will prevent you from working any job if you are an adult between the ages of 18-49. At age 50, there are special rules that may only require you to prove your condition prevents you from performing the work you have done in the past 15 years. It is advisable to hire a professional that understands how to apply those special rules if you are over the age of 50.
9. What can I do to improve my chances of winning my claim for Social Security benefits?
- Submit a thorough and complete application. A large number of claimants are denied because they do not complete the application correctly. There are over 20 pages of questions to complete that are often confusing if you have not seen one before. You can also hire a professional to complete the application correctly and avoid a denial due to issues with your application.
- Continue seeing a Doctor. It is hard to prove your condition will continue to keep you from working if you are not seeing a Doctor on a regular basis. We recommend seeing a Doctor at least once every three months.
- Hire a professional to accompany you if you have to appear before an Administrative Law Judge. There may be a vocational expert present to testify about your ability to perform work. A skilled professional is recommended to cross-examine the vocational expert.
10. If I am approved for Social Security disability benefits, how much will I get?
If your claim is for SSDI, it will depend on your earnings while you were employed. To get the exact amount, you may request a detailed earnings statement. If your claim is for SSI, the benefits will be based on the current federal benefit rate (FBR) and any other income or benefits you receive. In either type of claim, you can also get an estimated monthly amount if you have hired a representative to file your claim. An experienced representative will have the ability to calculate an estimated monthly amount.