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What is a Social Security Disability Claim? The Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income programs are the largest of a number of government programs which provide assistance to those with disabilities. If you have suffered a disability which prevents you from working, you may wonder about Social Security Disability benefits, and how to file for disability. Anyone can end up temporarily or permanently disabled. In fact, according to an article in The Motley Fool, Americans in their 20’s have about a 30 percent chance of experiencing a disabling condition which is severe enough to cause at least three months of missed employment. Despite this, few Americans can afford disability insurance.
One option for those who have suffered a disability is to apply for monthly benefits through the Social Security Administration. Qualifying for these benefits can be complex, therefore having SSI lawyers—a Social Security Lawyer Houston—in your corner, can truly make a difference. You should apply for SSDI or SSI as soon as you become disabled and unable to work. This is especially important because SSD benefits do not begin until the sixth full month of disability; the Social Security Disability waiting period begins on the first full month after the date it is determined the disability first began. For Supplemental Security Income, SSI disability benefits are paid for the first full month after the date you filed your claim, or the date you became eligible for SSI if that date is later.
You can apply for disability benefits online or in person, however due to the high number of SSDI applications which are denied, it can be beneficial to have a Social Security Disability lawyer Houston by your side from the very start. In fact, according to federal government statistics, only about one-third of all initial applications for Social Security Disability are approved. Further, a younger disabled person could be given benefits which are extremely low, as he or she would have fewer work credits. Following an initial denial, you can appeal the decision. At a SSDI appeal, the same state agency which initially denied the claim will re-evaluate. At this level, about 15 percent of claims will be approved. If denied during this first appeal, you can move your case forward to be heard in front of an administrative law judge. About half of the disability claims which are heard by an administrative law judge—particularly those argued by experienced SSDI attorneys—are approved.
What is Supplemental Security Income? Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a federal income supplement program which is funded by tax dollars rather than by Social Security taxes. SSI is meant to help the elderly, the blind and the disabled who have little or no income. SSI can provide cash to meet basic monthly expenses for housing, food and clothing. Generally speaking, SSI is for those low-income individuals who have not earned enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability or those who have never worked yet have a significant disability which would keep them from earning a living. Supplemental Security Income is need-based, according to an individual’s assets and income—you must have a very limited amount of regular monthly income and less than $2,000 in assets. Those who are eligible for Supplemental Security Income are usually also eligible for Medicaid and possibly food stamps.
Women are more likely to qualify for Supplemental Security Income as fewer women are eligible for Social Security Disability. Unfortunately, the approval rates for SSI may be even lower than those for SSD because SSD applicants tend to have higher incomes meaning they are more likely to have visited a doctor for their medical issue. Under certain circumstances, some people may be able to receive Supplement Security Income as well as Social Security Disability benefits simultaneously. To be eligible for these concurrent benefits, you must have been approved for SSD, but are receiving extremely low monthly payments. The low monthly payments could be due to a limited work history, low wages during your work history, or becoming disabled at a young age. Since SSD payments count as unearned income under SSI rules, if you are receiving less than $710 per month under Social Security Disability, you could potentially also qualify for Supplemental Security Income.
So, to qualify for Supplemental Security Income, you must have a demonstrated financial need, and have a disability which prevents you from “substantial gainful activity.” Under some circumstances, a person over the age of 65 could qualify for Supplemental Security Income, even though not totally disabled. For a person under the age of 65, it must be established there is a total disability and no other adequate means of financial support. Countable assets which go toward the $2,000 limit include anything of value which you own, other than your home and one vehicle. Assets might include additional vehicle, money in checking or savings accounts, retirement accounts and even cash value in life insurance policies. Children with specific disabilities could also qualify for SSI.
What is Social Security Disability Insurance? Social Security Disability Insurance (also known as SSD and SSDI) is designed to help support those who are too disabled to work and is funded through the Social Security taxes which are taken out of every paycheck. If you qualify for Social Security Disability, your work history and the amount of wages you earned throughout your working career will determine how much income you will receive. This is equivalent to the approach used to calculate Social Security retirement benefits, meaning your average wages over your working life are calculated and put into a formula with the result being the amount of your monthly check.
The formula for Social Security retirement and SSD is somewhat different, however, because a person could conceivably become disabled and unable to work without many years of work history. The SSDI formula subtracts 22 from your current age, takes one-fifth of that number and rounds down to the nearest whole number, then subtracts the second number from the first. If the second number is less than two, then SSA subtracts two, and if it is more than five, SSA subtracts five.
As an example, a 58-year old would subtract 22, resulting in the number 36. One-fifth of 36 is 7, and since 7 is more than five, 22-5=17, meaning 17 years of work history would be considered when determining SSD amounts. Your earnings for that 17 years would be looked at, resulting in your average indexed monthly earnings. That number will determine your monthly SSDI amount. So, if you have earned sufficient work credits and you have a qualifying disability, you could be eligible for Social Security Disability payments. Having experienced disability lawyers in Houston Texas can truly make a difference in the outcome of your Social Security Disability application.
If you do not have sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI, you may qualify based on your spouse’s or parent’s work history. A widow or widower between the ages of 50 and 60 could potentially qualify for disability benefits based on their spouse’s work history, and a person disabled prior to the age of 22 could potentially be eligible for SSDI benefits based on his or her parents’ work history.
How Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability? To qualify for Social Security Disability, the following must be true:
- You must not be engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” This means you must not be earning more than $1,220 per month from working (more if you are blind). The restrictions are in place because the Social Security Administration wants to ensure your disability does, in fact, keep you from working. In short, if you are earning a regular monthly paycheck, then you are probably not sufficiently disabled to be granted SSDI.
- You must meet the disabled “definition.” You must have a serious, long-term medical condition which keeps you from working. It does not matter if your disability was the result of an illness, an accident or any other reason, however you must meet the specific definition of disability as determined by the Social Security Administration.
- You must be unable to perform a job you are qualified to do. Not only must you be unable to perform the job you were doing at the time you became disabled, you must also be unable to perform any other job which you are qualified to do. In other words, the Social Security Administration will look at your “transferrable skills,” to determine if you are able to perform other types of work.
The Social Security Administration will not consider you disabled unless your disability has lasted a year, can reasonably be expected to last a year, or is expected to result in your death. The disability must significantly limit your ability to perform basic activities necessary for employment (walking, standing, sitting and remembering information). Your disability must be included in the Listing of Impairments as determined by the Social Security Administration or be medically equivalent to a listed impairment. Having a listed condition does not, however, automatically qualify you for SSDI benefits—you must exhibit specific symptoms to qualify based on a certain condition.
Getting Help for Your Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income Benefits The most reliable way to receive the benefits you are entitled to is to speak to a Disability Lawyer Houston who can help you determine whether you qualify for SSDI or SSI (or both), then assist you in getting those benefits. The Sullo & Sullo disability lawyers in Houston, Texas know how to file for disability on your behalf for the best chance of success and will help you every step of the way. Social Security Disability benefits can be crucial to your future—don’t wait, contact a Sullo & Sullo disability attorney Houston today.