Social Security Disability Insurance FAQ


Q: Can a child receive disability benefits?

  • A: Yes a child can receive either SSI or SSD is they're disabled. There's a set of criteria for children. They can get SSD based on their parents earning record, or SSI if no earning record or a combination up to the maximum SSI amount.


Q: Can child support be taken from my SSDI payment?

  • A: Yes it can. But, if you have dependent children they may be entitled to a child's benefit based on your benefit. You should have given them the names, social security number, ages and address of all children when you applied. If you didn't, you can add it later. It just delays their receipt of the benefits.


Q: Can I get SSDI while I'm receiving workers' compensation?

  • A: Yes.


Q: Can I work and earn "any" income while on SSDI?

  • A: Substantial gainful employment is defined as $720.00 per month. If you have nominal earnings that don't exceed that amount, you can earn the money. But if you're able to maintain substantial gainful employment, you're no longer eligible.


Q: Do I need to have an attorney to receive the benefits I'm entitled to?

  • A: Depends. For your initial application, an attorney or non-attorney representative is most likely not necessary. If you're denied, you may want to seek representation to assist in presenting your case for your appeal. It would be highly recommended to have an attorney prepare for your hearing before the administrative law judge or appeals council and would almost always be needed for a court appeal.


Q: How does Social Security define a disability?

  • A: To be eligible for benefits, a person must be unable to do any kind of substantial gainful work because of a physical or mental impairment (or a combination of impairments), which is expected either:
    • to last at least 12 months, or
    • to end in death.


Q: How long do I have to wait before benefits start?

  • A: Benefits begin the month following the fifth full month of disability for SSD and the date of application or the date of onset of disability for SSI.


Q: How much would I have to pay an attorney to help me get benefits? (Is there a set amount or percentage?)

  • A: In the standard social security disability case, the attorney is entitled to 25% of the back pay up to a maximum, which right now is just over $5,000.00. In an extraordinary case the attorney can file a fee petition to be awarded additional fees.


Q: I am disabled. Can I apply for, and receive SSDI, even if I have money in the bank?

  • A: Yes.


Q: I received a notice from Social Security saying it over paid me. Do I have to return the money? It was their error.

  • A: No, if you appeal their decision and win the appeal. Also, if the mistake was theirs and it would be a hardship for you to repay the amount, you can apply for and receive a waiver of the overpayment.


Q: Is there a list of diseases or illnesses that Social Security automatically covers?

  • A: Social Security has a listing of impairments that, if you meet ALL of the specifications and the condition prevents you from doing substantial gainful employment, you can be found eligible based on your condition.


Q: Is there more than one definition for "disabled?" WC has determined I am NOT disabled but Social Security has approved my SSDI application. How can that be?

  • A: Yes, there's often a different definition of "Disabled" among various programs and policies. The Veterans Administration has probably the most liberal definition of disability and Social Security the strictest. Various workers compensation programs and private disability insurance programs have their own definition.


Q: I've not been able to work for over a year. If I apply for social security now, will they pay me for the year I was not able to work?

  • A: Depends. First of all, SSI pays only from the date of application. SSDI can pay for up to 12 months prior to the application but, in determining eligibility for SSDI, they don't pay for the first 5 full calendar months of the disability period.


Q: My claim was turned down. Now what?

  • A: In most cases, you'll be turned down automatically the first time you apply for benefits. When this happens, you should appeal the decision. The instructions on how to appeal should be on the notice turning you down.


Q: My condition has gotten worse. Can my monthly benefit amount be increased?

  • A: No, the benefit is a set amount based on your earnings record, and it's for full disability for SSD. For SSI, it's a set amount for all recipients and also can't be increased (although it's supplemented in a few states.)


Q: Social Security stopped my benefits, now what should I do?

  • A: On the notice should be the reason they have stopped the benefits and your appeal rights. If you disagree with their decision, you can appeal and should do so.


Q: What are all the possible steps I could go through before I win approval to receive Social Security Disability Insurance?

  • A: You begin by applying for benefits. Your application will be either approved, or denied. If approved, it might go through a "Quality Control" review, and could potentially be denied. If approved, you should start receiving benefits eventually.

    If denied you would then apply for reconsideration with the state agency that handles disability on behalf of the Social Security Adminstration. That agency could approve your application, which might then be subject to Quality Control review, and possibly denied. The agency could also deny your application again. Some states skip the reconsideration stage.

    If you're still denied, you would then apply for a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ could approve your application, again with the possibility of Quality Control review, or deny your application.

    If the ALJ denies your application, you can then appeal to the Social Security Administration Appeals Council. If denied again, you can then appeal to United States District Court.


Q: What does "offset" mean?

  • A: Ordinarily, disability payments from other sources don't affect your Social Security disability benefits. But, if the disability payment is workers' compensation or another public disability payment, your and your family's Social Security benefits may be reduced.

    Your Social Security disability benefit will be reduced so that the combined amount of the Social Security benefit you and your family receive plus your workers' compensation payment and/or public disability payment doesn't exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings.


Q: What if I'm not permanently disabled? Can I still receive SSDI?

  • A: Depends upon the nature of your disability. If your disability will not last 12 months, then you're not eligible. If your disability doesn't prevent you from doing any kind of substantial gainful employment, then you're not eligible.


Q: What's a "trial work" period?

  • A: A trial work period is an opportunity to try and go back to work to see if you can do it without jeopardizing your benefits. A trial work period last for 7 months and must be reported to SSA. If you're unable to maintain substantial gainful employment, your benefits won't be terminated because you tried to go back to work.


Q: What's the difference between SSI and SSDI?

  • A: Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a program financed through general tax revenues-not through Social Security trust funds. SSI disability benefits are paid to people who have a disability and who don't own much or have a lot of income.

    Social Security disability insurance is a program that workers, employers and the self-employed pay for with their Social Security taxes. You qualify for these benefits based on your work history, and the amount of your benefit is based on your earnings.


Q: When should I, or can I, apply for SSDI?

  • A: When you believe you qualify or will qualify under the definition. You don't have to wait until you have been disabled 12 months, it must only be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.


Q: Who's an Administrative Law Judge and what does he do?

  • A: An Administrative Law Judge is an attorney employed by the Social Security Administration as a Judge to hold non-adversarial hearings on social security matters that haven't been resolved through the agencies own process.


Q: Will my SSDI be reviewed? When? Could I lose my benefits?

  • A: All SSDI and SSI cases are periodically reviewed for medical improvement. The shortest time between reviews is 3 years the longest can be 10 years (for someone, such as a quadriplegic, who is not expected to improve). If your medical records and examination show that there has been substantial medical improvement so that you could return to substantial gainful employment, your benefits will be stopped. If you disagree, you can appeal this decision, just as in the application process. If you file your appeal within ten (10) days and request continuation of benefits, your benefits can continue through the appeal process through the Administrative Law Judge hearing. But, if you lose your appeal you'll be expected to repay the benefits.



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