FAQ

What if I am declined for SSDI?

You have the right to appeal the decision. Always appeal the decision if your claim is denied through the framework provided by the government. Appeals escalate your case through different stages of examination, with the final appeal taking place before an Administrative Law Judge, where you are able to directly speak with the Judge about your medical condition. It is important to note that appeals are time sensitive. You have 60 days from the date of the rejection, as stipulated on the notice supplied by the Social Security Administration, to appeal the decision.

Who determines if I am disabled?

A state disability determination agency employs claims examiners to determine if an applicant is medically eligible to receive SSDI, SSI, or both. There is a persistent myth that one's doctor plays a significant role in determination and they really do not. The information they provide is supplied to the state disability determination agency where it is analyzed.

How long does SSDI approval take?

The application and appeal process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. It is best that you apply as soon as possible to get the whole process started and moving forward. Any back award you are entitled to will be based off of the date of your application. The sooner you apply, the sooner you will receive benefits if you are found to be disabled.

Do I qualify for Social Security Disability?

The determination for SSDI is handled on a case-by-case basis. Not everyone with a specific medical condition will meet the criteria, as the condition needs to prevent Substantial Gainful Activity. You will need to prove to the Social Security Administration that your condition prevents SGA through providing necessary testimony through paperwork, which will be compared with medical records and personal history by a claims examiner. There are some medical conditions that can result in automatic approval.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for SSDI?

No. In fact, many Social Security attorneys will not take on a case until the person has applied for themselves and faced at least one rejection. There are exceptions. You can electronically apply for Social Security Benefits through the www.ssa.gov website. If you require assistance with the application, you can contact your local Social Security office and they will help you. Though you do not need one, an attorney can be helpful asset for winning your case. The Social Security Administration is a government agency where bureaucracy and red tape are common. Representation that is experienced with that bureaucracy, who can advocate on your behalf if you can't advocate for yourself, can help you get approved for SSDI.  

How much do you receive for SSDI?

The amount paid out for SSDI differs from person to person. The Social Security Administration uses a formula based on the amount of income that you've paid Social Security taxes on. A majority of SSDI recipients average $1,100 per month with a range of about $700 to $1,700. The maximum award for SSDI is $2,687.

Do I have to be permanently disabled to qualify for SSDI?

No. You may qualify if your medical condition would limit SGA in addition to persisting for at least 12 months. Furthermore, simply having a specific medical condition does not necessarily mean you qualify for SSDI, though there are certain medical conditions that result in expedited, automatic approval. The medical condition must impact your everyday life and prevent Substantial Gainful Activity. The Social Security Administration does require periodic disability reviews (such as every 4 years) to ensure the recipient is still eligible, depending on the person's medical condition. There are Federal and State programs that will help a recipient get back to work if their medical condition improves.  

What is considered “Disabled” by the Social Security Administration?

A disability is defined as a physical, psychological, or psychiatric condition that would impair a person's ability to conduct Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) for at least 12 months in the past, or is expected to prevent that person's ability to conduct SGA for at least 12 months in the future. The criteria for Substantial Gainful Activity changes year by year. In 2017, SGA is defined as earning at least $1,107 per month.

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

Social Security is responsible for two safety net programs that offer monthly payments to people that cannot earn a living or work. These two programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI serves people who have worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system before becoming disabled. An individual who is judged disabled can receive SSDI benefits, regardless of their family income or individual assets, though there are later limitations that are applied. SSDI is a fixed amount that is only reduced if the recipient goes over an earned income limit that changes year by year. SSI is a needs-based program that pays benefits to the qualified disabled person regardless of their work history or taxes paid into Social Security. The applicant's assets and earnings must be under certain thresholds to qualify for SSI. SSI awards are a bit more complicated, scaling down if the recipient has an income, depending on the amount.