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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

It may seem simple to apply online for Social Security disability benefits—the tricky part is getting approved. An SSA Annual Report revealed that, on average, a slim 36 percent of claims filed from 2004 through 2013 were successful.

Follow some guidelines in order to increase your chances of approval:

  • Apply as soon as you become disabled.
  • Stay on top of your application. Most of the responsibility for meeting deadlines and requirements falls on you.
  • Be meticulous in your medical, personal, and work-related documentation.
  • Know the rules about income collection during the application process.
  • Be aware that your Social Security disability benefits may affect any other benefits you may be receiving, such as workers’ compensation or unemployment.
  • In the likely event that your claim is denied, request an appeal quickly.

Successfully applying for Social Security disability benefits is not as easy as it sounds. Do not hesitate to contact Morgan & Morgan if you need assistance navigating the process.

I haven’t worked for years and have been staying home taking care of my children. Now that I am ill, can I file a claim for Social Security disability benefits?

If you have worked in a Social Security-covered job for at least five of the last 10 years, you should be eligible for SSD benefits. If you cannot pass the work requirement tests, have not held an eligible job, or have not worked at all, you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Am I required to wait a certain amount of time before I’m allowed to file for Social Security disability benefits?

You can file for Social Security disability benefits immediately after becoming disabled. If you are suffering from a serious illness or injury and predict you will be out of work for at least a year, do not hesitate to file a claim. You should not file a claim if you are suffering from a minor illness or a condition which is not expected to last more than a year.

If my disability is not permanent, can I still qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

It depends. To qualify, you must have been disabled for no less than a year, expect to be disabled for at least a year, or have knowledge of a condition which will prove fatal within a year.

I was injured at work and am receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Should I file a Social Security disability benefits claim now or hold off until my workers’ compensation case is settled?

You should file your Social Security claim as soon as possible to avoid any gap in benefits.

Can I receive workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits at the same time?

Yes, but the amount of Social Security you receive may be lowered to offset your workers’ compensation benefits. If you receive Social Security disability benefits first, your workers’ compensation benefits may be reduced to offset the money you are already receiving in SSD benefits.

I am disabled, but I have money in a savings account. Should I wait until I’ve emptied this account before applying for Social Security disability benefits?

The amount of money in your savings account is irrelevant if you’ve worked sometime during the past few years, or if you are applying for Disabled Widow’s or Widower’s benefits, or Disabled Adult Child benefits. Income and assets (or “resources”) are taken into account only in connection with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits.

How much can I expect to receive after approval for Social Security disability benefits?

Disability insurance benefits are based on past wages and the amount of time worked. Monthly SSI disability benefits are set by federal law and are increased each January to account for a rise in the cost-of-living. Benefit calculators can help applicants estimate their potential benefit amounts. Many states supplement these amounts. Benefits generally range from $500 to $2,000 per month, and the average monthly payment is over $1,100.

I was injured in a car accident, but I will be returning to work after recovering. Does it make sense to file for Social Security disability benefits?

You should only do so if you anticipate being out of work for more than a year.

How long can I expect to wait until my Social Security benefits are approved?

It depends on whether you are approved on the date of your initial filing or if you will have to undergo the two-step appeals process. If the initial filing goes through, you only have to wait one to three months; an appeal can last anywhere from two to three years.

If my claim is approved, when will I receive benefits?

If your application is approved, you will receive your first Social Security benefit check for the sixth full month following the date the Social Security Administration determines your disability began. For example, if your disability began on June 15, 2013, you would begin receiving payment in December 2013, the sixth full month of disability.

Applicants may be eligible to receive retroactive payments for the 12 months prior to the application date, minus a five-month waiting period. Since claims may take time to be reviewed and approved, back pay is often awarded to applicants for the time period between application and approval. This is usually paid in a lump sum, unless the payments are significant.

Can mental illness be considered a disability?

Yes. In fact, many claimants receive Social Security disability benefits due to mental illness. The Social Security Administration will determine whether you are entitled to benefits based on your specific mental condition.

Can I receive Social Security disability benefits and still work?

Possibly, though it’s very unlikely. To be eligible for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration must determine that you are incapable of working. In a few limited circumstances, individuals may work highly-reduced schedules and still receive Social Security disability benefits.

How long will my Social Security disability benefits last?

Your Social Security disability benefits will last as long as you are disabled and unable to return to work. Social Security will periodically monitor your condition, and you are required to notify the SSA if your condition improves.

Do I need to have representation to win my disability case?

You are not required to have representation when applying for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income; however, it is highly recommended. Claimants who do not hire an attorney may be at risk for filing incomplete applications or missing important deadlines. Retaining a Social Security attorney may increase your chances of filing a successful claim.

Can I receive both Social Security Benefits and SSI?

If you are receiving a small amount in Social Security benefits, you may also qualify for SSI. The maximum federal SSI payment for an individual is $710 per month and for a couple is $1,066 per month; however, some states will supplement the federal SSI payment. In general, the amount of SSI benefits you receive will be based on the amount of income you earn. If your countable income is over the allowable limit, you cannot receive SSI benefits; however, some of your income may not be considered “countable income” for the SSI program.

I’ve filed an appeal for review. Will my benefits continue?

You are permitted to ask the Social Security Administration to continue payments while your claim is being reviewed on appeal if:

  • You are appealing the administration’s decision to stop payment of benefits because your medical condition is not disabling;.
  • You are appealing the administration’s determination that you are no longer eligible for SSI or that your compensation should be reduced.

All requests for continuation of benefits during the appeals process must be made within 10 days of receipt of the letter from the administration.