Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability | Monthly Disability Benefits | SSD | SSDI | SSI

The process of applying for Social Security benefits can mystify an applicant, and can also be very time consuming. To help applicants understand how one applies for Social Security disability benefits, we have gathered a list of frequently asked questions. It is our sincere hope that these questions and answers will help clarify what Social Security disability benefits are and how you can apply for them and win your claim. We can also put your in touch with an experienced Social Security attorney who can answer any lingering questions you may have about Social Security disability and help you file your application.

What is Social Security?

An act of Congress created Social Security in 1935. This federal program is meant as a Social Safety net to protect injured and ailing workers as well as poor people. Social Security pays both retirement benefits to the general working population and benefits to the disabled. Two different kids of Social Security disability benefit programs exist: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is available to workers who have paid FICA taxes, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is available to low-income disabled Americans.

If you have both mental and physical illnesses can you apply for Social Security disability?

Yes, in fact a large percentage of Social Security disability applicants put both physical and mental illnesses on their applications for SSDI and SSI. For example, an applicant who has fibromyalgia may also list depression or anxiety disorders as a complaint that keeps them from working. Those who only claim a mental disability should know that mental and physical disabilities are given equal weight by the SSA. Disability Determination Services evaluates both mental and physical claims to make a determination of a person’s status.

If my case is approved, when will I begin receiving disability benefits?

Payments cannot be made until five months after the disability set in. If the Social Security Administration finds a claimant was disabled before their application date, that person may be able to receive up to 12 months of retroactive payments. The average monthly SSDI benefit check for an individual in 2011 was $1,067.

If I hire a Social Security lawyer, how will he or she be paid?

Most Social Security lawyers work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. Most Social Security lawyers charge a fee of up to 25 percent of the back pay you receive from the Social Security Administration. The SSA caps the amount a Social Security lawyer can be paid to $6,000. Because Social Security lawyers work on contingency, you do not need to worry about whether or not you can afford to hire legal representation. Hiring a lawyer can also increase your chances of winning your case by 33 percent!

This list of frequently asked questions is by no means exhaustive. We can help put you in touch with a Social Security lawyer who is well versed in all the peculiarities of Social Security law who can answer any specific questions you may have about your case. Social Security disability lawyers tend to work on contingency, meaning you will pay nothing unless you win your case! A Social Security lawyer can help you file for Social Security disability benefits, check the status of your disability claim, or appeal a disability denial.

Can I receive disability benefits while working?

Yes, depending on the type of work. Social Security rules detail a "work incentives" program that allows people to test their ability to work while not losing their rights to cash benefits and Medicare or Medicare. Vocational training may even be available.

How long can I receive Social Security disability benefits?

There is no set time limit for receiving Social Security Disability benefits, as you are eligible to receive disability payments as long as your condition persists and keeps you from working. The Social Security Administration will review your case periodically to see if there has been any change in your condition to determine your continued eligibility. If you are still disabled at age 64, you will begin to receive retirement benefits instead of disability benefits.

How is the disability determination made?

Many people may ask themselves “how can I get disability benefits?” The SSA uses something called the “sequential evaluation process” to determine whether a person can be classified as disabled and begin receiving Social Security disability benefits. For adults, this process requires a thorough review of your current work activity, the gravity of your impairment, your ability to work with the condition and weighs those factors against your age, education and work experience. These criteria are all weighed in the disability determination process.

What if the SSA finds that I am not disabled?

If the Social Security Administration finds you are not disabled, you can appeal this initial determination. This is called filing a “Social Security benefits appeal.” Your first appeal is to a Federal Reviewing Official. If that official denies your case, you can request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The next step, if denied, is filing a civil lawsuit in federal district court.

Are Social Security disability benefits available for disabled children?

Yes. Around 1 million American children currently receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. There are three different programs through which a child might qualify for disability benefits: 1) Children under 18 of parents who receive SSDI benefits may be eligible for “dependents or survivors” benefits. A child is eligible for Social Security benefits if he or she is a dependent of someone receiving disability benefits or if he or she is a surviving child of someone who died while receiving such benefits. In such instances, a child would be able to receive benefits until he or she turns 18. 2) Children under the age of 18 with disabilities can be eligible for Supplemental Security Income payments. 3) Adults who have been disabled since childhood can be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. When children apply for SSI, the Social Security Administration looks at the severity of the child's impairment and tries to assess whether that impairment causes marked and severe functional limitations.