Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability Benefits
Before you contact us for a free initial consultation regarding any application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it will help if you familiarize yourself with the answers to these frequently asked questions:
Q. When is a person considered disabled?
A. A person is considered disabled if he has a physical or mental condition or a combination of conditions that render him unable to work, considering his age, education and past work history. The condition must have lasted or be expected to last one year or to result in death.
Q. What is the practical definition of disability?
A. A disability is any medical condition, physical or mental, that prevents you from working on any regular full-time job for at least 12 months, or results in death.
Q. When should I apply for Social Security Disability?
A. You should apply for Social Security Disability as soon as you become unable to work and it is reasonably expected that you will not be able to work for 12 months.
Q. Are there retroactive benefits?
A. When you apply for Social Security Disability, you may possibly get retroactive benefits going back as far as one year prior to your filing date, depending on the specifics of your claim.
Q. When should I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?
A. You should apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as soon as you become disabled. Unlike Social Security Disability, there is no retroactivity prior to your application so the sooner you file the safer you are.
Q. I applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) but now I’m told I should have also applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Is there any way to fix that?
A. Generally, a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application will be considered an application for any program you might be eligible for under that Social Security number. Therefore, if you apply for SSI and by mistake don’t apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), generally the SSI will be considered a protective filing date. It is always safest to apply for both programs.
Q. I applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)and now I’m told I did not meet the earnings requirements and should have applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Is there any way to fix that?
A. Generally, the government will accept an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as well. It is always safest, however, to apply for both programs.
Q. Are there any other requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?
A. To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must also meet the earnings requirements at the time you became disabled, therefore giving you insured status. The concepts of insured status are very complicated but we will review your status to make sure you are being considered for all benefits for which you possibly qualify.
Q. I’m 23 years old and have worked only since graduating college when I was injured in a car accident. What program am I eligible for?
A. The earnings requirements for people under 31 are proportionately less, so someone who is 23 may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits even if he’s only worked a few years. Depending on financial need, you might also be eligible for Supplemental Security Income.
Q. I was negligent in the car accident. Does this make me ineligible for Social Security benefits?
A. No. Fault is not an issue in determining eligibility for Social Security benefits.
Q. What are the requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
A. In order to be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must either be over 65 and impoverished or be disabled and impoverished. Generally, if you are eligible for welfare, you are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Q. How can I apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
A. Anyone can go to the local Social Security office and apply in person. You may also call 1-800-772-1213 to set an appointment to complete your application in person or over the phone at a specific time. You may also apply for SSDI online at www.ssa.gov.
Q. When can I hire The Law Office of Shannon Crowe to represent me?
A. You can hire us at any stage of the proceeding. Hiring us earlier in the process improves your chances of winning your claim, by giving us a chance to point the claim in the right direction from the earlier stages.
Q. How can I make the application process go faster?
A. You can help by providing the following documents immediately:
- Social Security numbers and proof of age of each person applying for benefits including any children under 18 who might be eligible for benefits
- Names, addresses and phone numbers of doctors, hospitals, clinics and institutions that have treated you and dates of treatment even if you are no longer going there
- Names of all medications you are taking
- Medical reports you already have from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, or clinics
- A complete work history including for whom you worked, the dates you worked for them, what type of job you performed, and the physical and mental demands of that job.
Q. I have applied for disability and been turned down. How long do I have to appeal?
A. Generally you have 60 days to appeal any denial of benefits. If you are a client of The Law Office of Shannon Crowe, we will file the appeal for you.
Q. My claim for benefits was recently denied. Should I appeal or just file again?
A. You should appeal. This is so that you do not shorten the length of past due benefits available to you. If you are denied at the hearing stage, you may want to do both. We can discuss this with you in more detail when the time comes.
Q. Can someone win Supplemental Security Income and not win Social Security Disability Insurance benefits?
A. Yes, and it happens quite often. Remember, for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must also meet the insured status requirement. Many people whose insured status has expired because they haven’t worked recently can get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if they can prove a recent disability.
You can also get SSDI and not get SSI. Frequently a person’s SSDI monthly benefit is too high to be eligible for additional SSI benefits (remember it is called Supplemental Security Income). If you are not impoverished, you are never eligible for SSI, even if you are disabled. Many people can receive both. The definition of disability is the same for SSI and for SSDI and the appeals process is the same for both. We will make sure you are receiving all the benefits to which you are entitled.
Q. If I get disability, will I be entitled to health insurance?
A. If you win Social Security Disability Insurance, you get Medicare twenty-nine months after your onset date or two years after the first date you were eligible for cash benefits, whichever is later.
If you get Supplemental Security Income, you receive Medicaid effective the day you applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). People with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or those with end-stage renal disease are eligible for Medicare without the normal waiting period.
Q. What type of evidence should my doctor be supplying?
A. The best report from a doctor is the same sort of report he would give if he were explaining your condition to other physicians.
First, he should give a long history. What were the initial symptoms, when did they start, when did you start noticing them, and when did they become significant?
He should then mention what treatment he gave you and how well it has worked or not worked. He should give the diagnosis and the prognosis. He should explain the basis for the diagnosis and the prognosis; that is, how he made these determinations, what medical tests have been used, what laboratory findings are consistent with your condition. He should also describe what your clinical findings are; that is, what he finds when he examines you.
Lastly, he should summarize the impact on your ability to work – how these conditions have affected your ability to function. He should describe whether they limit your ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, carry, and to work on a regular eight hour a day basis.
If it is a mental condition or has components of a mental condition, he should describe the impact of stress, working with others, working under deadlines, your ability to concentrate, your ability to deal with the general public or coworkers, your ability to remember instructions, and your ability to learn a new job if you can no longer perform past work.
Q. How long does it take to get an initial decision?
A. Three to five months is the approximate length of time to get an initial decision.
Q. I have been turned down and I have been told to apply for a hearing. How long will it take to get a hearing?
A. The average in Texas is currently six to nine months from the date you request the hearing. There are very limited cases where a claim will be set much quicker. We will let you know and will request this expedited hearing if it applies to your claim.
Q. I’ve just been awarded disability benefits. How long can I expect to be on disability?
A. You should be on disability as long as you remain disabled. The Social Security Administration may occasionally review your claim to see if your disability continues. Therefore it is very important to keep Social Security informed of any address or phone number changes, and to attend any meetings or doctor’s appointments of which they give you notice, or your benefits may be discontinued. When you reach retirement age, your disability payments automatically become retirement payments.
Q. What are your fees?
A. All attorneys' fees are paid by the Social Security Administration directly to The Law Office of Shannon Crowe at the conclusion of a successful claim. Our fee is 25% of past due benefits.
Q. How do I contact The Law Office of Shannon Crowe?
A. Call our office at 281-468-7498 for an immediate free initial consultation. You may also email us at [email protected] for a prompt response to any of your questions or concerns.