Frequently Asked Questions - Social Security Disability & SSI

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What is Social Security Disability (SSD)?

The Social Security Disability program is administered by the Social Security Administration and funded by the FICA taxes you pay when you work. If you become unable to work before you are old enough to retire and collect Social Security, you can apply for SSD benefits. This program ensures you will have a minimal monthly income if you are unable to work at your job or at any other job for at least one full year.


What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI -- Supplemental Security Income -- is a federal benefit program available to those who are totally disabled and whose income and assets fall within certain limits. No previous work history is required for SSI. In some cases, children can obtain SSI benefits.


Will SSD/SSI replace all of my lost income?

No, it will not. It is only a safety net. As of August 2009, the average SSD benefit amount was $1,064 per month, although you can receive up to a maximum of approximately $2,449 per month, depending on your past earnings. If you have a family, they could receive additional benefits, up to 50 percent of your own monthly benefit amount.


Do I qualify for SSD benefits?

You qualify if the SSA determines you meet its definition of Disability: you have been unable to work at your job or at any other job for at least one full year, and you have worked and paid into the program (mandatory payroll taxes) for five of the last ten years.


What is the SSA's definition of "Disability"?

The SSA will consider five things: whether you are currently working; the severity of your medical condition (mental or physical); if your medical condition is on its "List of Impairments;" your ability to do the work you did before; and your ability to do any other type of work.


When should I apply for disability benefits?

As soon as you become disabled. Most people are turned down on their initial application, and it can take up to two years to go through the hearing and appeals process to get your benefits.


Is it difficult to get SSD benefits?

Yes. SSA denies about 60 percent of the people filing initial applications.


Do I need to hire an attorney?

You can apply without an attorney; however, statistics show that claimants who retain attorneys have a better chance of getting their benefits. Firms like Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys at Law, which has obtained benefits for more than 15,000 individuals and families, understand the system and can get your case settled in a timely manner.

Additional Resources

Jeffrey Freedman Attorneys at Law

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