Social Security Disability Benefits or Supplemental Security Income FAQs
When you’re struggling with a physical disability or mental health condition, you may be unable to work and make ends meet. The Social Security system can provide some much-needed relief through two programs – Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These systems are complex, so the attorneys at Baker & Backer have compiled a list of the most common questions about SSDI and SSI.
General Benefit and Eligibility Information
What are Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits?
Social Security Disability benefits (also referred to as Social Security Disability Insurance) provides disability payments to disabled workers and their families. You’ll often see the acronyms SSD or SSDI used to refer to this program. Benefit payments depend on whether you qualify and your according to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) rules.
What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
People who haven’t paid into the Social Security system enough or who haven’t worked at all may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These benefits also depend on whether you medically qualify and your financial situation.
Who is eligible for SSDI vs. SSI benefits?
You can apply for benefits if you are disabled and unable to work full-time and if your medical condition has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more, or if your condition is life-threatening. If you have sufficient work credits, you can apply for SSDI. Otherwise, SSI benefits may be available.
What disabilities qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits?
There are many types of physical and mental disabilities that the SSA lists as being eligible for SSDI and SSI benefits. But simply having a listed medical condition isn’t sufficient to get claim approval. You must also be able to prove that your limitations prevent you from working at substantial gainful employment (SGA), meaning you can’t do productive enough work to earn a certain amount of income as defined by the SSA.
How will the Social Security Administration (SSA) determine whether I am disabled?
The SSA determines whether or not you are disabled based on your medical condition and your inability to work. The agency will review medical and other documentation to figure out if you can do your normal work or, if not, some other type of work based on your current earnings, age, education, skills, and background.
How long can I receive SSDI or SSI benefits?
If you are approved for SSDI or SSI, you can collect the benefits indefinitely. However, your benefits could be terminated if the agency feels that your condition has improved, determines that you are engaged in SGA, or you become incarcerated.
Receiving Other Benefits With SSDI and SSI
Can I receive SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time?
Some people are eligible for SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time. The SSA refers to this as “concurrent” when a person can draw from both programs simultaneously.
Can I receive SSDI or SSI benefits along with other benefits?
You can receive other benefits like workers’ compensation, unemployment, and other public disability plans along with SSDI or SSI benefits. However, it’s likely that your Social Security payments will be reduced due to this combination.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
How do I apply for SSDI or SSI benefits?
Where is my local SSA office?
If you live in the Tallahassee or Panama City area, your local SSA district office is in Tallahassee. The phone number is 1-866-248-2088.
Who can help me apply for Social Security Disability benefits?
The experienced disability attorneys at Baker & Baker can help you apply for SSDI and SSI benefits. Our legal team will ensure that your application is as complete as possible before it is submitted to the SSA for consideration.
What Happens When a Disability Claim is Denied?
What can I do if my Social Security claim was denied?
Unfortunately, more than half (60%) of initial disability claims are denied by the SSA. Even if your claim was denied, you can file an appeal. Be aware the appeal must be filed within 60 days from the date the denial is received or one can show good reason why the appeal is filed untimely. In some instances you may have to file a new claim.
What’s the process for filing an SSDI or SSI appeal?
There are several levels of Social Security disability appeals. The first is a request for reconsideration, where a different caseworker will review your application. If you are denied again, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Next, you have the option to move to an Appeals Council, which can take up to 24 months. Finally, the last option is to file a lawsuit in Federal District Court.
How long do I have to file an appeal with the SSA?
You have just 60 days to file an appeal if your application for benefits was denied.
Questions About Hiring a Disability Attorney
Do I need a lawyer to help with my Social Security disability claim?
You don’t have to have a lawyer to pursue SSDI or SSI benefits. But, having one has been shown to increase an applicant’s chances of getting approved for benefits. Not only can having an attorney make the difference between a claim denial and getting the benefits you deserve, but it can also ensure that you receive the maximum benefits possible. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that people who hired an attorney to help with their disability claims were three times more likely to be successful than those who didn’t.
Why should I hire a disability attorney?
An experienced disability attorney can help streamline your SSDI or SSI claim in a variety of ways. They can gather evidence to support your claim, ensure your application is thorough before submission, prepare you for appeals hearings, and ensure you are being treated fairly by the SSA.
How are legal fees paid?
You pay no legal fees to Baker & Baker upfront. If your attorney is successful in securing your disability benefits, your lawyer is paid a fee set by the SSA that is generally based on a percentage of your retroactive benefits.
Getting approved for SSDI or SSI benefits can be challenging without help. At Baker & Baker, our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys specialize in guiding clients through the application and appeals process. If you’re interested in learning more or would like to schedule a free case review, contact our North Florida office online or call us today at (850) 433-0888.