We provide comprehensive assistance and representation to potential beneficiaries of the Social Security Disability process.
Social Security Disability
We provide comprehensive assistance and representation to potential beneficiaries of the Social Security Disability process. This includes assistance in the application process as well as representation throughout the appeal process. The requirements for obtaining Social Security benefits are very technical.
Most people who initially apply have difficulty understanding the complex forms, and historically, a large majority (approximately 70%) of applications are initially denied. If this has happened to you, don’t be discouraged, because claims are often granted in the later appeal stages of this process, although this process takes a relatively substantial amount of time.
Every year hundreds of thousands of American taxpayers become unable to work because of illness or injury. There are several safety net programs within the Social Security Administration (SSA). The most common programs being the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI) under Title II of the Social Security Act and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program under Title XVI of the Act.
Within the disability programs set up by the SSA, are rules and procedures governing what constitutes being declared disabled and thus eligible for disability benefits. However, common sense does not always tell you what qualifies an applicant for disability; resulting in the low application acceptance rate. Most do not get relief until they have an appeal hearing, which can be well over a year from the date of denial of the claim.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a benefit available to disabled individuals under age 65. The applicant must have contributed to the SSDI insurance system through his or her earnings. Generally this ranges from 6 to 40 Quarter Credits (QCs) (in 2015 one QC requires earnings of $1,220 in a year) of employment, varying by age; as follows:
If you became disabled when you were 23 years old or younger, you may qualify if you earned at least 6 quarters of coverage during the 3 years before your disability started.
If you became disabled when you were 24 through 30 years old, you will need
to have earned credit for at least half of the available quarters between the
time you turned 21 and the time you became disabled.
If you became disabled at 31 years old or older, you must satisfy two requirements. You must have earned one quarter of coverage (whenever acquired) for each year after the year in which you turned 21 and at least 20 of those quarters must have been earned during the 40 quarters (10 years) immediately before you became disabled.
Age at Which You Became Disabled
Number of Credits Needed to Qualify
62 or older
To be defined as disabled by the SSA you must show both a medical and a vocational element. The Social Security Act defines the term disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which has had a duration of at least 5 months and can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. This is the medical component of the statutory definition of disability.
There is also a requirement that the impairment(s) be of such severity that the insured is not only unable to do his or her previous work but cannot, considering age, education and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work that exists in the national economy. This requirement exists regardless of whether such work exists in the insured’s proximity, whether a specific job vacancy exists, or whether he or she would be hired.
If the insured is approved for SSDI he or she may receive benefits up to 12 months retroactive. The first 5 months, from onset of disability (referred by the SSA as the date of entitlement) are not compensable. The monthly benefit amount payable is a complex calculation based off the insured’s earnings (and resulting contributions to the fund). The average amount of benefits is approximately $1,200 per month. There may be an offset or reduction if the insured is receiving other government benefits such as workers compensation.
There are also limited “auxiliary benefits” payable to family members of insured workers.
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a federal welfare program for the disabled, blind and those over 65. In contrast to SSDI, benefits are paid out of general revenues, not out of the social security trust fund. There is no earnings requirement to qualify for benefits, as there is for SSDI. There are, however, income and asset limits to collecting SSI. Generally, one cannot have income of more than the federal benefit rate ($733 individual or $1,100 married in 2015) and must have limited assets ($2,000 individual and $3,000 married). There are numerous exclusions and exceptions to these numbers however.