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Social Security Disability (SSDI) Questions

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How do I qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits?

The Social Security Administration follows strict medical and work-history guidelines to determine eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. You must have paid into the Social Security system through FICA taxes and have a recent-enough work history. You also must have a disabling medical condition that is expected to prevent you from working for 12 months and earning above the level of Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). The 2010 SGA income level is $1,000 per month and $1,640 per month for the blind and vision impaired.

How long must I be unable to work to qualify for Social Security benefits?

Your medical condition must have kept you from working for at least 12 months. If you have been unable to work for at least a year, or believe your condition will prevent you from working that long, you should consider applying for disability benefits.

How does the Social Security Administration decide if I am disabled?

SSA follows a five-step disability determination process. Your medical condition must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability. SSA will also review your current work history, skills, age, education, and ability to adapt to different work.

What if they decide I’m not disabled, but I still feel I deserve benefits?

If SSA denies your first-time SSDI application because they feel you do not meet their disability criteria, you can appeal that decision. You have 60 days from the date of your denial letter to request an appeal. The Appeals process can be long and complicated. However, it does provide you with your best opportunity to prove eligibility of disability benefits, especially at the hearing level. It is highly recommended that you find a attorney to help you.

What type of benefits will I receive?

Once you have been approved for Social Security Disability Insurance, you receive:

  1. Cash Benefits
    You will begin receiving cash benefits approximately six months after becoming disabled. Payments are made monthly. SSA prefers to direct-deposit payments so, if you do not have a bank account, SSA will strongly recommend that you establish one. The amount you receive is based on your earnings history and will continue for as long as you are uable to work and your medical condition has not improved. SSA conducts periodic reviews of all SSDI cases to determine continued eligibility of disability benefits.
  2. Medicare
    You will be eligible for Medicare 24 months after receiving SSDI benefits. However, if you have a serious illness such as kidney failure and you require dialysis, you may qualify immediately.
  3. Social Security Retirement Benefits Insurance (Protection of Social Security Cash Benefits)
    Social Security Disability Insurance benefits automatically converts into retirement benefits when you reach retirement age. By establishing that your absence from the work force is due to a disability, you are assured that the Social Security Administration will not reduce your future retirement benefits.

If my medical condition gets worse can I receive more benefits?

No. The cash benefits you receive are based on your average lifetime earnings before your disability began, not the severity of your medical condition.

Can I work and receive benefits at the same time?

You can work while receiving SSDI during a Trial Work Period (TWP). You can work for nine non-consecutive months within the first 60 months and earn a monthly income of up to $720 (2010 amount) and still receive SSDI benefits. When the trial work period has ended, and you are working, you will no longer receive disability benefits for any month in which you earn more than substantial gainful allowance (SGA). For 2010 that amount is $1,000. However, if your income drops below SGA or if your disability causes you to stop working within five years, you may receive benefits again. After that, you will have to reapply, but you may get temporary disability and Medicare benefits up to six months while your case is being reviewed. You also get to keep your Medicare benefits for at least eight and one-half years after returning to work.

What is a Trial Work Period?

A Trial Work Period (TWP) allows beneficiares to ease back into working again. The TWP is for nine non-consecutive months within the first 60 months in which you are able to work. During the TWP beneficiaries are allowed a monthly income of up to $720 while still receiving disability benefits.

How do I apply for Social Security benefits?

You can apply directly with the Social Security Administration or seek the help of qualified attorney. Our attorneys know how to prepare a high-quality application for you that details very specific information about you, your family, your work history and your medical history. Applying on your own is difficult. And, if your application is incomplete in any way, you risk the high probability of getting denied. SSA denies about 63 percent of first-time applications. Get expert help in filing your claim.

How long does the application process take?

The SSDI initial application process typically takes three to five months. Appeals of denied claims may take significantly longer. Due to the extensive backlog of claimants waiting for appeals hearings with an Administrative Law Judge, it could take a year to get approved. Getting started Hopping Law Group,PC Advocate could save significant time in getting the disablity benefits you need.

How long after I am approved will I begin receiving benefits?

Your entitlement date for monthly benefits is set after a mandatory waiting period of five full months after SSA determines the date of your disability. SSA also compensates you for the period of time it takes to approve your application. You receive a one-time-only lump sum that represents the number of months you were entitled to benefits.

How much will I receive if I am approved for Social Security benefits?

Your monthly payments are based on your lifetime earnings in addition to other adjusting factors including whether or not you are receiving other types of disability insurance such as Workers’ Compensation payments, or Public Disability payments.

Are there medical conditions that are pre-approved for Social Security benefits?

Yes. These medical conditions are included in SSA’s Compassionate Allowance initiative that quickly identifies applicants who clearly meet SSA’s definition of a disability. Claims are processed within days instead of months. Confirmation of the medical diagnosis with supporting medical information is often all that is needed to get approved.

Can people with terminal illnesses be approved for Social Security benefits?

Yes. If you have a terminal illness that meets SSA’s definition of a disability, you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. SSA provides a list of impairments and includes 88 conditions that meet SSA’s Compassionate Allowance initiative to expedite applications within days of filing for benefits.

Why should I work with The Hopping Law Group,PC?

Our trained attorneys know how to prepare high-quality first-time applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Insurance Income (SSI) benefits. We win over 90 percent of claims through Appeals. We are professional, compassionate and responsive to each and every person who chooses us to advocate for them to get the disability benefits they deserve. There are no upfront fees required and we cover extra costs to support your claim, such as medical records, if necessary. Hopping Law Group,PC receives a one-time-only percentage fee determined by SSA only if we win your case.