Social Security Disability FAQs

Franklin, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Attorney

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability

1. What are Social Security Disability benefits?

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are available to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability, paid under a federal "insurance program" as part of the Federal Social Security Act.

2. What is Supplemental Security Income?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a benefit that is available to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability and would otherwise be approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits but are not eligible for those benefits because they have not sufficiently paid into the Social Security system. If you are approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits you may also be entitled to the additional Supplemental Security Income benefit. To qualify for these benefits you must not only prove that you are disabled but must also meet certain income and asset requirements.

3. How do I Apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

An application for Social Security Disability benefits can be filled out at a local office of the Social Security Administration. You can also apply online on the SSA website at www.ssa.gov . Also, see Procedure for Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits to learn more about the application process.

4. Do I have to be disabled for a certain period of time in order to file for Social Security Disability benefits?

In order to be found entitled to Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits you must be able to prove that you have a disability that is expected to last at least one year. Because it typically takes a long time to be approved for these benefits, it is usually wise to file your application sooner rather than later.

5. If I am unable to work at my job due to my disability but am not totally disabled, can I still be approved for Social Security Disability benefits?

In order to collect SSD benefits, you must be able to prove that your impairments prevent you from engaging in any substantial employment, not just that you are unable to perform the duties of the job where you have been working.

6. Do I have to be found permanently disabled to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

No. As stated above, it is the expectation that your disability will last for at least one year which is necessary in order to be found eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, even if you may improve in the future. An approved claim for benefits can be reviewed in the future by the Social Security Administration to determine if the individual has improved to the point of no longer being entitled to benefits.

7. Do I need to have a lawyer to file for Social Security Disability benefits?

You are not required to have a lawyer when applying for Social Security Disability benefits. However, as is the case with other matters dealing with complex regulations and procedures, you stand a much better chance of succeeding on your claim if you have an experienced attorney who understands both how the process works and the documentation needed to prove your case.

8. How Can I Afford to Hire an Attorney?

You do not pay any legal fees to an attorney unless the attorney is successful on getting your claim for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits approved. Even then, the fees are paid to the attorney out of the retroactive benefits (what is owed to you from the date you first become eligible for benefits through the date your claim is approved) with the fee amount regulated by the Social Security Administration.

9. If I am on Workers' Compensation, can I also receive Social Security Disability benefits?

Anyone who is receiving workers' compensation benefits, which is a state run program, may also receive Social Security Disability benefits. However, the requirements on being found entitled to workers' compensation and Social Security Disability benefits differ, as do the procedures for pursuing those benefits, so being on one does not necessarily guarantee that you will qualify for the other.

10. If I am on Workers' Compensation, does the amount I am getting on workers' compensation affect what I may get for Social Security Disability benefits?

Typically, if you are on workers' compensation and are found eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, your Social Security Disability benefits will be offset, meaning that they will be reduced. The amount they will be reduced will depend on how much you are receiving on workers' compensation benefits and what your earnings were prior to your becoming disabled. Your workers' compensation benefits, on the other hand, are not reduced due to your also collecting Social Security Disability benefits.

11. What should I do if my application for Social Security Disability benefits is denied?

When a claim for Social Security Disability benefits is denied, you have 60 days to appeal that determination. You can submit additional medical evidence with the appeal to support your claim. See Procedure for Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits to learn more about the appeal process.

12. What health problems will Social Security consider in determining if I can get Social Security Disability benefits?

All of your medical conditions, both physical and mental, should be considered in determining whether you have an impairment or combination of impairments that prevents you from being able to work. Often, any one health problem alone will not sufficiently disable you but two or more conditions, in combination, can result in your being found eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

13. Are there any factors other than my health problems that are considered in determining if I can get Social Security Disability benefits?

Yes. Other factors to be considered in determining your being found entitled to Social Security Disability benefits include your age, your education, your work history and transferrable skills, if any.

14. Am I allowed to work at all if I am approved for Social Security Disability benefits?

A person who is receiving Social Security Disability benefits can earn an unlimited amount of income on a nine month return to work trial period, so long as he or she remains disabled. After the nine month trial period, the recipient of Social Security Disability benefits can continue to receive those benefits for an additional three years so long as he or she remains disabled and earns no more than $1,040 for any one month.

15. Do you also get Medicare if you are on Social Security Disability?

Anyone who has been entitled to Social Security Disability benefits for two years also becomes entitled to Medicare. The two year waiting period goes back to the onset date of your disability, meaning that you become eligible to receive Medicare two years from the date you first became disabled, not from the date of the approval of your Social Security Disability benefits.