The laws governing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are often confusing. Far too many people don’t realize how complex the claims process is until they have been denied benefits.
Jones Law Group is a legal practice based in Columbus, Ohio that helps clients obtain Social Security disability benefits. Read our FAQs below to learn more about the Social Security disability program and application process. If you have specific questions that aren’t answered here, call (614) 545-9998 or contact Jones Law Group online (link to contact page) to set up a free initial consultation.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, a disabled worker must have worked long enough and paid sufficient Social Security taxes to be considered insured. Benefits can be paid to a disabled worker and his family or his surviving dependents, which may include spouses, ex-spouses, children, adopted children, and even the grandparents and parents of the insured worker in rare cases.
You must have worked for at least 10 years to qualify for disability benefits through the SSDI program. Moreover, you must have worked for at least 5 out of the last 10 years before becoming disabled. If you become disabled before turning 31 years old, these requirements are reduced. Request a copy of your earnings record from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to check whether you qualify for benefits under the SSDI program.
The SSDI program is for disabled workers with a recent work record who have paid enough Social Security taxes. The SSDI program also offers benefits to disabled widows and widowers between the ages of 50 and 60 whose deceased spouse worked and paid Social Security taxes. The SSI program is for individuals who meet low-income requirements and haven’t worked a sufficient amount of time to qualify for SSDI benefits. The SSI program is funded by general taxes, whereas the SSDI program is funded by the Social Security taxes paid by workers.
Apply for disability benefits as soon as you determine that your disability is going to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. You will not be eligible for disability benefits if your condition isn’t expected to last for at least a full year.
The strongest cases are those backed by strong medical evidence. You can improve your chances of being approved for Social Security disability benefits by getting your doctor to provide a thorough narrative of your medical condition. Your chances of winning also increase if you hire a lawyer to represent you. Furthermore, honesty is important – exaggerating your disability could lead your claim to be denied.
If your claim is denied, file a request for reconsideration within 60 days of the date you received the denial notice. If you are denied again, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) within 60 days. While you don’t need to have legal representation to file an appeal, statistics from the SSA show that claimants represented by an attorney fare significantly better.
You can work and still receive SSDI benefits, but your income must fall below the substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount. In 2014, the monthly SGA amount is $1070. If you apply for SSDI benefits while working and your gross income exceeds the SGA amount, your claim will be denied.
After you submit your initial application, it can take three to five months for a decision to be made regarding your case. If your application is denied and you file a request for reconsideration, it could take another three to four months for a decision to be made. If your claim is denied at the reconsideration stage, you could request a hearing before an ALJ, which usually takes six months or longer. However, your case could be decided much sooner or much later. There is simply no way to predict how long a case will take. If you have a severe illness with a clear diagnosis, you may be able to get an expedited decision through Social Security’s expedited disability benefit programs.
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Eric Jones is very patient and down to earth and unlike any attorney I have ever met.