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Bailey Law Office, PLLC
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
If you are physically or mentally disabled and cannot work, then you should apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. This can be done at your local field office (find a local field office: http://secure.ss.gov/appsOz/FOLO/fo001.jsp) or online (http://www.ssas.gov/d&s1.htm). It is important to make this initial application as soon as you become disabled as the average approval rate for disability benefits for initial applications is around 40%. This means that if you want to continue your disability case then you need to appeal this initial decision by requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge. This must be done within 60 days of your denial of benefits. The success for many is through the appeal process. This is the time when many individuals hire an attorney and eventually find themselves in front of an administrative law judge.
What Does It Mean to Be Disabled?
It is important to understand what is means to be "disabled" for purposes of disability benefits through SSA. The SSA will consider benefits only for people who are totally disabled with a condition that will last or is expected to last at least one year or can expect to result in death. To meet this definition, an applicant must not be able to engage in any type of substantial gainful work in the national economy due to severe physical or mental impairment(s), having considered the applicant's age, education, and previous work experience.
There are two programs available to individuals with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI), also referred to as Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The Social Security Administration administers both programs and under both programs individuals must meet the medical criteria to be deemed disabled.
Social Security Disability Insurance: SSD is a credits based benefits program. Basically, benefits are paid to those individuals who are found disabled and are "insured" through the program by having worked and paid Social Security taxes. Generally, applicants for SSD will need to have worked 5 out of the last 10 years (although for applicants under age 31, there are different criteria). You will be required to submit information about all of your work for the past 15 years (or longer depending on when you are last insured for benefits).
Supplemental Security Income: SSI is a financial needs based program. Through the disability part of SSI, benefits are paid to those individuals who are found disabled and have a very low income and little assets. It is not dependent on whether you have worked or not. For some individuals, they may receive benefits through SSD and SSI - if their SSD benefits are low then they may be supplemented with SSI payments as well.
Assistance: Please contact the Bailey Law Office if you need assistance with your Social Security Disability Appeal or if you have questions.
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