Frequently Asked Social Security Disability Questions

Struggling to work or being unable to work because of a medical condition is extremely frustrating. Disabled workers need to understand their rights to collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You may have a lot of questions about applying and/or appealing for SSDI because the process is long and complicated. Below are answers to some of the most common questions our attorneys receive.



What are Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income?

Both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are disability plans regulated by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

SSDI is a benefit for those who had a relatively steady work history for a period of time prior to becoming disabled. SSI is a benefit for those who may have only worked for a brief period of time, or not worked at all, prior to becoming disabled. To be eligible for SSI, you must meet financial guidelines for Public Assistance.

Find out what the financial guidelines for SSI are and learn more about Social Security Disability Insurance here at Disability Justice.


What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

The key difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the fact that SSDI is available to workers who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits, while SSI disability benefits are available to low-income individuals who have either never worked before or who haven't earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.

SSDI is a benefit program that is based on your work history before becoming disabled, while SSI is a needs-based benefit program for those that have only worked for a brief period of time, or never at all, prior to becoming disabled. You must meet financial guidelines for Public Assistance to receive SSI.

To learn more about the financial guidelines that must be met and find more information on SSDI and SSI, visit Disability Justice.


Who is eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance?

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must demonstrate that you are unable to perform any work which you have previously performed. You must also be able to prove that there is no work available for which you could reasonably be trained given your age, education level and degree of physical and mental fitness.

In general, you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance if you:

  • Suffer from an injury or illness that prevents you from working for at least 12 months
  • Have worked for the last 5 of 10 years
  • Are unable to perform any regular job or work-like activity
  • Are under 66 years old
  • Have paid taxes
  • Have a diagnosis from a doctor that supports your claim

To learn more about SSDI eligibility, contact the Social Security Disability attorneys at Disability Justice.


What are the requirements for SSDI benefits?

In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must not be working, or if working, earning less than $1,130 a month. Your condition must be so severe that it prevents you from performing your job. Your condition meets the Social Security Administration’s requirements. You are unable to do the work you did before you were disabled, and you are not able to perform other types of work that your background prepared you to do.

To learn more about the requirements for SSDI, click here to speak with an attorney from Disability Justice.


What are the requirements for SSI benefits?

The requirements for SSI benefits are different for an individual than for a married couple. As a single individual, you must have less than $2,000 in resources, own only one car and own only one home. If married, you must have less than $3,000 in resources, only own one car and only own one home, which must be your primary residence.

The SSI program has strict limits on the amount of income and assets you can have and still be eligible for SSI.

To learn more about the requirements for SSI benefits, consult our attorneys at Disability Justice.


What is the SSDI process for determining whether you are disabled?

The Social Security definition of disability is based on your inability to work for a long period of time. You are considered disabled and eligible for SSDI benefits if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are not working at all or earning less than $1,130 per month
  • Your condition is so severe that it interferes with work-related activities you must perform to do your job
  • You are unable to do the work you did prior to becoming disabled
  • You are not able to perform other types of work that your background may have prepared you to perform

It is vital to note that this is a simple explanation that does not take into account special situations that may make you eligible for disability benefits even if you have not fulfilled all the above conditions.

If you think you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, do not hesitate to contact us. Disability attorneys at Disability Justice can advise you regarding your eligibility and help you apply.


How long do you have to be disabled before applying?

In order to be approved for SSDI, you will need to demonstrate that your disability is expected to last at least one year or that it is expected to be life ending. You will also need to demonstrate that you are unable to perform any work which would be categorized as substantial gainful activity, meaning that you cannot work eight hours per day, five days per week on a consistent basis.

However, you should apply as soon as you believe you may have a long-term disability because there are delays between applying and actually receiving benefits. There are certain requirements regarding the expected length of disability and certain waiting periods during which benefits are not payable.

Our attorneys at Disability Justice can explain these to you.


Will my workers' compensation benefits be affected if I receive Social Security Disability?

It depends on your circumstance. In some cases, there are offsets (reductions) against your Social Security Disability benefits because of workers’ compensation benefits you may have received during the same period of disability.

This is something that must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and the appropriate attorneys can advise you on an individual basis. Generally speaking, Veterans Administration benefits and private pension benefits do not offset (reduce) the Social Security Administration disability benefits.

To learn more about your combined benefits, visit Disability Justice and receive the answers you deserve.


How can you afford to pay a lawyer to help with SSDI when you are applying for SSDI because of financial problems?

There is no fee unless our Social Security Disability lawyers are successful in obtaining benefits for you.

If successful, the lawyers are paid directly by the Social Security Administration and the fee is based on a percentage of your lump sum benefits, which is dictated by the Social Security Act. So there is not out-of-pocket cost to you.

To learn more about your rights to SSDI, visit Disability Justice.


How do I pay for my student loans if I’m found disabled?

If you have suffered an injury or medical condition that prevents you from working for an indefinite period of time, you may be eligible to cancel any student loans you have. If you have a student loan that you took out before July 1, 1993, you may be able to defer loan payments for up to three years if you can show that you, your spouse or a dependent has suffered from a temporary total disability.

Under new U.S. Department of Education guidelines, those who have borrowed federal loans may be eligible to have their Title IV federal loans forgiven.

To learn more about whether you qualify for student loan forgiveness, visit Disability Justice.


What is a trial work period?

The Social Security Administration allows you nine trial work months during any five-year period. Generally, you will not be entitled to another trial work period once you have used these nine months.

However, there are a few exceptions to keep in mind. Did your disability benefits end due to working? Did you later qualify for benefits again? Have five years or more passed since a given trial month?

Visit Disability Justice to learn more about these trial work period exceptions.


How long does it take for you to start collecting benefits?

The process of obtaining disability benefits from the Social Security Administration can be a long, confusing and tedious process, and it typically takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months to get an award of benefits.

At Disability Justice, however, you will be guided through the process as quickly and effectively as possible.

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