Social Security Disability FAQ

Q. Am I eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?

A. If you have worked long enough (usually 10 years) and have become disabled, you may be eligible to receive SSD. Each year, just before your birth date, Social Security sends you a statement of your history of earnings.

In some instances, younger workers need fewer years to qualify.

Q. What or how is the disability I have determined?

A. The general rule is the medical reports submitted by your treating doctors must demonstrate you are unable to perform gainful employment and the disability is expected to last for more than one year or result in death.

Medical reports may indicate all physical and mental conditions which contribute to your disability, not just a work-related injury.

Q. What other benefits are available?

A. In many cases, Social Security pays additional monthly amounts for each child under the age of 18 years. Two years after you are found eligible for benefits by the Social Security Administration, you will be enrolled in Medicare.

Q. When should I file for SSD?

A. Since the process may take more than a year, the sooner you apply the sooner you may receive your benefits.

By filing as early as possible, for example by the ninth month of your disability, you will have an opportunity to ensure the proper medical reports are submitted.

Q. How do I apply?

A. You can apply by calling SSA at 800-708-8917 or by visiting your local SSA office.

Q. I applied but was denied. What should I do?

A. Appeal the denial in writing as instructed in the letter of denial. You must do so within the deadline indicated in the denial letter.

You have the right to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and this must be requested within 60 days of the denial letter.

Q. Can I appeal or appear at a hearing without a lawyer?

A. Yes. However, statistics show the assistance of an experienced SSD lawyer increases your likelihood of success.

Q. Can I receive SSD and Workers' Compensation benefits at the same time?

A. Yes. However, in some cases SSD benefits may be reduced. An experienced attorney can assist you in ensuring you receive the maximum from both programs.

Q. How do I pay for a lawyer?

A. Social Security must approve any fee to be paid to an attorney who represents you, and the fee is deducted from your past due benefit award and paid directly to the attorney. Before retaining an attorney, a fee agreement must be completed. There is no charge for a consultation.

Q. Who decides whether I am disabled?

A. In order to receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a physical and/or a mental disability severe enough to prevent you from working, which is supported by acceptable medical findings. Initially, at the application phase, the determination is made by the responsible state agency.

Q. Am I entitled to any other benefits?

A. If you are covered by a pension plan or your disability is the result of a work-related injury, you may also be eligible to receive your pension and/or workers' compensation benefits. An experienced attorney can advise you on these benefits.

WHEN YOU KNOW YOUR RIGHTS, YOU WILL BE HELPFUL TO YOUR DOCTOR AND YOUR LAWYER IN PRESENTING YOUR CLAIM AND SECURING BENEFITS.