There are two federally administered disability programs-Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). To receive SSDI a person must be disabled while insured through payroll deduction. A person’s assets do not determine if you are eligible for SSDI. SSI is available to those with little or no work history who have few assets.
Insured status is based upon payroll deductions, FICA. A person may be insured for years into the future. If a person can show that they are disabled on, or before the date last insured, the person would be eligible for SSDI.
Disabled is defined as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental impairment which is expected to last 12 months or more or result in death. Substantial gainful activity is generally defined as the inability to earn a certain amount of money per month, which currently is $900 gross per month.
Generally, the Social Security Administration determines if the person’s physical abilities meet the physical demands of jobs within the economy. If one’s physical abilities fall short of meeting the physical demands of jobs within the economy one is disabled. If one does have the physical ability to meet the physical demands of the job market one is not disabled. It does not matter that no one will hire you, nor does it matter that the job does not exist. The standard changes, as one gets older.
Doctors do not find a person disabled. This is a legal question, not a medical one. Doctors offer an opinion about what a person can do physically because of physical impairments. The judge, or adjudicator, then applies the law to determine if the person, given these physical restrictions, is disabled or not.
For almost all of those who apply there are three stages with two denials. The initial application is usually denied. A reconsideråation is then filed. Generally, this is also denied. Lastly, one applies for a hearing before an administrative law judge. It is at this stage that the claim is tried.
An attorney can counsel an applicant for social security disability about the law and the process, gather the necessary evidence and present the evidence before the Administrative Law Judge.
Attorney’s fees are 25% of one’s back benefits, not to exceed $6,000.00.
An SSDI applicant may be entitled to back benefits up to one year prior to the date of the initial application. SSI applicants maybe entitled to back benefits to the date of the initial application.
The process can vary greatly in how long it will take from the initial application to resolution. Generally it is about one year.
You do not need to be off work for an entire year before you apply for Social Security Disability. You do need to have a disability that is likely to last a year.