If you cannot work because of a physical or mental condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death, you may be eligible for cash disability benefits (and perhaps Medicare or Medicaid) under two programs administered by the federal Social Security Administration (SSA)–Social Security disability insurance and/or Supplemental Security Income.
The Social Security disability insurance program (often referred to as “SSDI” or “DIB” for short) pays benefits to you and certain family members if you are 1) disabled and 2) meet the program’s insured status requirement. To be insured, you must have enough Social Security “credits,” which you accrue as you work and pay Social Security taxes. Most people need 40 credits to qualify for benefits, but younger people may qualify with fewer.
In contrast, the Supplemental Security Income program (“SSI” for short) does not require that you have enough “credits.” Instead, SSI pays benefits to adults and children who are 1) disabled and 2) have limited income and resources. Income is money you receive such as wages, Social Security benefits (e.g. SSDI) and pensions; income also includes such things as food and shelter. The amount of income you can receive each month and still get SSI depends partly on where you live.
Resources are things you own such as real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds. You cannot get SSI if your resources are worth more than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. Some resources like your home and car, however, do not count towards these limits.
Determining whether you are disabled
To decide whether you are disabled for purposes of either SSDI or SSI, the SSA generally uses a step-by-step process involving the following five questions:
Are you working? If you are working and your earnings average more than $980 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled. If you are not working, your claim goes to question 2.
Is your condition “severe?” Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, the SSA will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, your claim goes to question 3.
Does your condition “meet or equal a listing?” For each of the major body systems, the SSA maintains a list of medical conditions that could constitute a disability if the required medical findings and symptoms as identified in the list are met or equaled. If your medical condition and its accompanying symptoms meet or equal the listed requirements, then the SSA will find you are disabled. If they do not, then your claim goes to question 4.
Can you do the work your “past relevant work?” If your condition is severe but does not meet or equal a listing, then the SSA must determine if your condition interferes with your ability to do your “past relevant work,” i.e. the work you performed before you became too ill. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, your claim goes to question 5.
Can you do any other type of work? The SSA will consider whether you can perform any other work given any exertional and nonexertional limitations imposed by your medical conditions, your age, your education, your past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have. If the SSA concludes that you cannot, then your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.
How we can help you win disability benefits
Applying for SSDI and/or SSI can be a time consuming and lengthy process. Hire us to take the work out of it for you and make sure the SSA has the right evidence to make a fully favorable decision on your claim. Here are some of the things we can do for you:
file thorough, persuasive applications;
obtain and submit medical records and special evidence to support your claim;
accompany you or go on your behalf to any interview, conference, or hearing you have with the SSA;
file timely appeals should you be denied;
prepare you and your witnesses for a hearing before a judge;
expedite your claim by requesting an “on-the-record decision” and/or “dire needs” request when appropriate;
make sure you are receiving all the disability benefits due to you and your family;
Don’t delay; contact us immediately for time is of the essence.
Other practice areas –
Plaintiff’s Personal Injury: Civil Defense : Special Education/American’s With Disabilities Act.