Monthly Disability Benefits| Frequently Asked Questions about Social Security Disability | SSD | SSDI | SSI

It can be very frustrating and confusing to apply for Social Security disability benefits, and can even take years. To help smooth the process out for you, we have compiled the following list of frequently asked questions to try to demystify the process of applying for disability benefits. We hope these questions can help provide some much-needed clarity about Social Security Disability benefits and what it will take to win your claim. We can also help connect you with a Social Security lawyer who will be able to use his or her expertise to provide you with more answers.

What is Social Security?

Social Security is a federal program established by Congress in 1935 with the Social Security Act. Social Security pays both retirement benefits and benefits to the disabled. There are two different kids of Social Security disability benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It is possible to file a concurrent claim for both SSDI and SSI benefits.

How is the disability determination made?

Many people may ask themselves “how can I get disability benefits?” The SSA uses something called the “sequential evaluation process” to determine whether a person can be classified as disabled and begin receiving Social Security disability benefits. For adults, this process requires a thorough review of your current work activity, the gravity of your impairment, your ability to work with the condition and weighs those factors against your age, education and work experience.

Can you apply for Social Security if you suffer from both mental and physical ailments?

Yes. A large percentage of applicants for disability list both mental and physical disabilities on their applications. For example, applicants who claim to have cancer may also list depression or anxiety disorders as among their chronic ailments. Those people who only claim a mental disability should know that mental and physical disabilities are given equal weight by the SSA. Disability Determination Services evaluates both mental and physical claims to make a determination of a person’s status.

If my case is approved, when will I begin receiving disability benefits?

Payments cannot be made until five months after the disability set in. If the Social Security Administration finds a claimant was disabled before their application date, that person may be able to receive up to 12 months of retroactive payments.

Is there a time limit on Social Security disability benefits?

No, you are eligible to receive disability payments as long as your condition persists and keeps you from working. The Social Security Administration will review your case periodically to see if there has been any change in your condition to determine your continued eligibility. If you are still disabled at age 64, you will begin to receive retirement benefits instead of disability benefits.

What if the SSA finds that I am not disabled?

If the Social Security Administration finds you are not disabled, you can appeal this initial determination. This is called filing a “Social Security benefits appeal.” Your first appeal is to a Federal Reviewing Official. If that official denies your case, you can request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The next step, if denied, is filing a civil lawsuit in federal district court.

Can I work and receive disability benefits?

Yes, depending on the type of work. Social Security rules detail a "work incentives" program that allows people to test their ability to work while not losing their rights to cash benefits and Medicare or Medicare. Vocational training may even be available.

Can disabled children receive Social Security disability benefits?

Yes. Around 1 million American children currently receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. There are three different programs through which a child might qualify for disability benefits: 1) Children under 18 of parents who receive SSDI benefits may be eligible for “dependents or survivors” benefits. A child is eligible for Social Security benefits if he or she is a dependent of someone receiving disability benefits or if he or she is a surviving child of someone who died while receiving such benefits. In such instances, a child would be able to receive benefits until he or she turns 18. 2) Children under the age of 18 with disabilities can be eligible for Supplemental Security Income payments. 3) Adults who have been disabled since childhood can be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. When children apply for SSI, the Social Security Administration looks at the severity of the child's impairment and tries to assess whether that impairment causes marked and severe functional limitations.

How is my Social Security attorney paid?

Most Social Security lawyers work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. Most Social Security lawyers charge a fee of up to 25 percent of the back pay you receive from the Social Security Administration. The SSA caps the amount a social security lawyer can be paid to $6,000. Because Social Security lawyers work on contingency, you do not need to worry about whether or not you can afford to hire legal representation. Hiring a lawyer can also increase your chances of winning your case by 33 percent!

This list of frequently asked questions is by no means exhaustive. We can help put you in touch with a Social Security lawyer who is well versed in all the peculiarities of Social Security law who can answer any specific questions you may have about your case. Social Security disability lawyers tend to work on contingency, meaning you will pay nothing unless you win your case! A Social Security lawyer can help you file for Social Security disability benefits, check the status of your disability claim, or appeal a disability denial.