1. What is SSDI?
    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a monthly benefit for people who have worked in the past and paid Social Security taxes. SSDI benefits are paid to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of their disability.
  1. What are the qualifications for SSDI?
    To qualify for benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. Then you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. In general, we pay monthly cash benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability.
  1. What is the Definition of ‘disability’ according to Social Security?
    Disability is when you have a documented mental or physical impairment that is expected to result in death or has lasted or expected to last for at least 12 months.
  1. Is it hard to get Social Security Disability Benefits?
    On average the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies about 65 percent of people who file initial disability application without using professional representation such as SSAD. Receiving SSDI benefits can be a difficult and confusing process without the help of a qualified Social Security advocate.
  1. Do I really need a professional disability advocate or representation to receive SSDI?
    You are not required to have representation, but Social Security Administration (SSA) denies about 65 percent of people who file initial disability application without using professional representation. SSAD can greatly improve your chances and shorten the time of receiving disability benefits. SSAD has a 97 percent success rate in winning our clients benefits.
  1. Why should I use Social Security Advocates for the Disabled to assist me in getting SSDI?
    Social Security Advocates for the Disabled success rate is 97 percent for getting benefits awarded to their clients.

    • People who use Social Security Advocates for the Disabled will usually get their benefits awarded faster than if done on their own.
    • We will represent you and assist you from beginning to end and answer any questions that you may have.
    • Social Security Advocates for the Disabled will do all of the paperwork, gather all medical records and prepare you for any hearings and speak with the SSA for you on your behalf.
    • You will never have to worry about what is going on. Social Security Advocates for the Disabled will keep you informed during the whole process.
  1. What are SSAD’s fees?
    The SSA governs the fees of representatives. Our typical fee is 25 percent of the retroactive (back) award, not to exceed $6,000. We do not charge a fee unless we are successful in obtaining your benefits. And there are no add-on fees for travel, collecting medical records, etc.
  1. How long does it take to get a decision for my benefits?
    Unfortunately, it’s not a quick process. Generally, it takes about three to five months for the initial decision. Reconsideration (first appeal) will take another three to five months. The second appeal is before an administrative law judge in Social Security’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. The average time to receive a decision at this level in 2010 was 426 days.
  1. How much will I receive?
    It’s a complicated formula largely determined by the amount of your past earnings that have been subjected to FICA taxes. http://www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/benefitcalculators.htm
  1. Do I get additional benefits for my children or dependents?
    Children up to age 18 or who have not graduated from high school are entitled to benefits if a parent is deceased, retired or disabled. Generally, dependent children of a disabled parent will receive about 50 percent of the disabled parent’s monthly benefit. The 50 percent is divided equally among all eligible dependents.
  1. What does Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits provide?
    SSDI provides income until your condition improves, offers assistance to help you return to work, and provides ongoing income if your condition does not improve.  You are entitled to it based on payroll taxes you have paid and your employer has matched. Also, when you receive SSDI, you qualify for other important programs like Medicare and prescription drug assistance, and protect your future Social Security retirement benefits.
  1. Can Social Security take away my SSDI benefits?
    It doesn’t happen often, but you can lose your disability benefits if your condition improves to the point that you no longer meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled.” SSA must show there has been medical improvement related to your ability to work before they can cease your SSDI benefits.
  1. Why is it so hard to get benefits?
    The number of initial SSDI applications being filed is at an all-time high, making it more difficult than ever to receive benefits. Contributing factors include:

    • In a difficult economy more individuals file for SSDI benefits
    • Baby Boomers entering their most disability prone years
    • Strapped federal and state budgets
    • A high denial rate—65% of all claims are initially denied, creating a backlog of appeals
  1. Can I get unemployment benefits while waiting for SSDI benefits?
    The receipt of unemployment benefits does not necessarily preclude you from receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. It is, however, a factor examiners consider when determining whether or not you qualify for SSDI benefits. Some administrative law judges (ALJs) may not award SSDI benefits if someone is receiving or has applied for unemployment. Disability onset dates (the date the disabling condition began or the date your condition required you to seek SSDI / affected your ability to be employed) may have to be amended to the day after someone received their last unemployment check.

    The issue with unemployment versus SSDI benefits is the difference in why someone receives these benefits. When you receive SSDI, you are unable to do your past work or any other work. Unemployment benefits generally indicate you are ready, willing and able to work, but haven’t found employment yet. ALJs typically look at your individual circumstances when determining the significance of your application for unemployment benefits and related efforts to obtain employment when determining if you qualify for SSDI.