Here are some frequently asked questions about the Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income process.
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Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) are cash or insurance benefits paid to disabled individuals under the Social Security Act who meet certain criteria. Unlike Supplemental Security Income, individuals who qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits must have earned disability insurance coverage through either their own work or the work of an eligible parent or spouse.
Supplemental Security Income benefits are a means-based program that awards a minimal level of income to only the poorest or the aged, blind, and disabled. Supplemental Security Income benefits represent approximately nine-percent of the benefits paid under the Social Security Act.
Both Disability Insurance Benefit and Supplemental Security Income cases are decided under the disability determination process that consists of five sequential steps. In Disability Insurance Benefit cases, a candidate must additionally be considered eligible or “insured”, meaning he or she has worked sufficient quarters and has contributed to the Social Security system.
- Step One: Substantial Gainful Activity – A claimant cannot be engaged in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) and be entitled to benefits. If is not employed, they do not meet the SGA requirements. If a claimant is still employed during the application for benefits, a determination will need to be made about whether the income derived from this employment exceeds the requirements.
- Step Two: Severe Impairment – The next step considers whether the claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that are severe.
- Step Three: The Listings – The third step considers whether the claimant’s impairment or combination or impairments meets the severity of an impairment listed in the Social Security Regulations. If the listings are met, the claimant is deemed disabled and no additional steps are necessary. If they are not, however, the process continues to the next step.
- Step Four: Past Relevant Work – The fourth step considers whether the claimant can do past relevant work in light of his residual function capacity. (“RFC”) If the claimant can continue to perform past relevant work, the claimant is deemed not disabled. If they cannot do past relevant work, the process continues to the final step.
- Step Five: Other Work – The fifth and final step considers whether the claimant can perform other work in light of her RFC and the vocational factors o age, education and work experience. If the other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant is deemed capable of performing, they are deemed not disabled. If the work does not exist in significant numbers, they are deemed disabled.
The initial application takes just a visit to your local Social Security field office. The field office will make a decision on your initial application usually within three to five months. If you are denied, the appeals process can take significantly longer and usually involves several successive determinations. Hiring a lawyer can expedite the case while also ensuring that the process is navigated correctly and efficiently.
You will start receiving monthly benefits after five full months after the date of disability, as determined by the Social Security Administration. You also receive compensation in the form of a lump sump payment for the period of time you should have been receiving benefits while you were contesting your case.
We handle Social Security cases on a contingent basis, meaning we do not charge a fee unless we are successful and you receive benefits. Our contingent fee must be approved by the Social Security Administration and is either 25 percent of the past due benefits or $6,000, whichever is less.