Disability FAQ

What is the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
Social Security is a federal government program established by the Social Security Act.  Two of the several programs under this act – Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – pay monthly cash benefits to disabled individuals who are unable to work.  SSDI pays benefits to a disabled person, and sometimes family members, if the disabled person is considered “insured.”  Insured status is satisfied if the person has worked and paid Social Security taxes for a requisite period of time.  SSI is based on disability and financial need.  To qualify for SSI, the disabled person must meet particular resource and income eligibility requirements.  The disability criteria for SSDI and SSI is identical.  The SSDI benefit amount is based on what you paid into Social Security and is roughly equivalent to what you would get for SSA retirement benefits when you reach full retirement age.  The SSI benefit amount is a set amount for all people.
The Social Security Act defines disability as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (full time competitive employment) by reason of any medically determinable physical and/or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
Are there other types of Social Security disability benefits?
Yes.  Here are the other major types:
Disabled Widow’s and Widower’s Benefits:  available to individuals who are at least 50 years old and become disabled under SSA’s definition within a certain amount of time following the death of their spouse.
Disabled Adult Child (DAC) Benefits:  available to children who met SSA’s disability definition before age 22 and have a parent who is deceased or drawing either Social Security disability or retirement benefits.
SSI Child’s Disability Benefits: a type of SSI benefit available to children under 18 years old who are disabled.  SSA determines disability differently for children.  Eligibility to apply and qualify is contingent upon the parents meeting certain financial eligibility requirements.
How do I find out if I am eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
Social Security Disability provides benefits when your physical and/or mental limitations prevent you from working full time. If you’re unsure whether you meet the eligibility criteria, call us, and we can go over your case free of charge.
How do I apply for Social Security Disability?
We recommend calling the local SSA office & setting up an appointment to apply in person or by phone.  You can apply online as well at the Social Security Administration website, however, the online application process can be confusing and it’s easy to miss something on the application or not provide complete information. Talking to someone at the SSA office assures that they will get all of the information they need to thoroughly evaluate your claim.
When should I get an attorney?
While we accept cases at any stage, the sooner you begin working with an attorney, the better. The documentation Social Security will send you to complete right after you apply has a substantial impact on everything, including the likelihood of prevailing in your claim. That’s why we encourage people to retain an attorney around the time they apply or very shortly thereafter.  Our initial consultations are free of charge.
How much will it cost to have an attorney represent me on a disability claim?
Social Security representatives do no get paid any fees unless the claimant is found disabled and is awarded retroactive benefits (back award).  Then the attorney would get the smaller of 25% of the back award or $6,000, which is the maximum allowed by law.  There may be times when we ask the Social Security Administration for a higher fee, such as when we take cases to the Appeals Council or Federal District Court.
Separate from our fees, we ask our clients to reimburse us for our out-of-pocket expenses, which average around $150.
Can I apply for disability if I’m still working?
If you are working full time, Social Security won’t even consider your claim because the agency will assume you’re not disabled. Even though you’re working through pain, if you’re able to continue your job, you won’t be approved for disability benefits.  However, if you are working part-time, you can apply for disability if you are not making more than $1,350 per month (the limit in 2022).  There are some exceptions to this rule.
Can I work while I’m waiting for my disability determination or after I start getting disability?
Any work you do after you apply for Social Security disability and after you start receiving Social Security disability must generally be under the SGA amount ($1,350 per month for 2022).  But, if you went back to work and had to quit or reduce your hours because of your disability, your work can qualify as an “unsuccessful work attempt.” If it does, it won’t prevent you from getting disability benefits for the months you worked.
What if I’m working with a different attorney or representative… can I switch to Halpern Law Group?
Yes, you are completely free to switch representatives. If we accept your case, we will contact your prior representative on your behalf, notifying them of your change in representation.
I’m a health care professional… do you have any advice for me with respect to Social Security Disability?
As a holistically focused law firm, the best outcome we can hope for at HLG is your patient’s return to wellness so that he or she can begin working again. Our goal is allowing you to focus on the therapeutic relationship while we focus on your patient’s disability claim. Comprehensive treatment notes reflecting the reality of your patient’s daily mental or physical limitations are very helpful to your patients’ disability claims.

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