1. What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability (SSD) is a financial aid program designed to help those who are unable to work due to disability. SSD benefits are available to disabled workers who have paid taxes to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
2. What is Supplemental Security Income?
Social Security Income (SSI) is a federal income supplement program designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. It provides cash benefits to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. You must fall under certain financial thresholds to be approved for SSI.
3. When can I file for SSD?
Once you acquire a condition that is likely to keep you out of work for longer than one year, you should file for SSD benefits. It can take quite a while for your claim to be processed, so the sooner you file, the better.
4. Can I get temporary disability while I wait for my case to be approved?
If you have short- or long-term disability insurance through your employer, in most cases, you are allowed to collect temporary disability benefits. In fact, many long-term disability policies have provisions that require you to apply for SSD benefits.
5. What are my chances of being approved for benefits?
There is no way of knowing for certain whether your condition will qualify you for benefits. Two people with the same disability won’t necessarily both be approved. The key element is the severity of your condition—is it severe enough to keep you out of work for significant periods of time?
Part of our job is to improve your odds of approval by collecting all necessary documents—such as records of your medical conditions, physical and mental restrictions, medications, and work history—and making sure your claim reflects all of the important factors in your case.
6. When should I apply for Medicaid?
If you do not have health insurance, you should apply for Medicaid. It’s important to your health and your case that you are able to visit doctors as needed.
7. In addition to my physical disabilities, I am also having mental and emotional problems. Will Social Security consider this?
Many people who are dealing with chronic pain also experience depression and anxiety as they struggle with physical limitations and the inability to do all the things they used to do, such as working and providing for their families. If you are experiencing depression-like symptoms, talk with your doctors and make sure they are aware of your symptoms and that they address them appropriately. If necessary, seek additional help from a psychiatrist or psychologist. If your doctor is unable to treat your emotional problems, many county mental health departments offer this kind of care.
8. How long is the SSD application process going to take?
Depending at what level your claim gets approved, it generally takes three to 12 months for a claim to be evaluated at the initial application level. If a Request for Reconsideration is made, it generally takes an additional three to six months. If you make a Request for Hearing, then the average wait time in North Carolina is an additional 20 months.
Unfortunately, the majority of claims must go to hearing, which means a total anticipated wait time of 25 to 36 months, and sometimes longer.
9. Is there anything I can do to reduce my wait time for a hearing?
Generally, no. While we wish having a lawyer would decrease the amount of time you have to wait for a hearing, in many cases, your hearing will be assigned by the SSA in the order in which it is received. In most cases, there is nothing anyone can do to change the wait time in the backlog.
10. How much will I get if I am approved?
The amount of your monthly benefits is determined by your work history and how much you have paid into the Social Security tax system. Generally, the more you have worked and the higher your earnings, the more your monthly benefit will be. The amount of your monthly benefit is called your Primary Insured Amount or PIA.
11. If I get approved, am I also entitled to Medicare health insurance coverage?
Yes. When the examiner or Administrative Law Judge approves your claim, he or she will set a disability determination date, which is officially recognized as the date you became disabled. You are automatically eligible for Medicare Part A (hospital care) two years and five months from this disability determination date. If you would like to have coverage under Medicare Part B (outpatient hospital services, primary care treatment, and other services) or Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug coverage), then you may elect to pay for this additional coverage through Social Security.