Applying for Social Security disability can be a daunting experience. Filled with endless regulations and requirements, strict guidelines and procedures, dense paper work and prone to complications, the SSD process is nothing short of complex. As a result, too many qualified applicants are denied the benefits they truly need. In order to help the local residents of Sacramento better understand how SSD works, how their personal situation will be affected and what they can expect during the process, our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys have answered some of the most frequently asked questions.
Social Security Disability FAQ
What is Social Security disability?
Social Security disability, or SSD, is a federal insurance program run by the U.S government, particularly through the Social Security Administration. SSD is designed to provide financial assistance in the form of monthly payments for individuals who have a medical condition that limits or prevents their ability to work. SSD is funded by taxes people pay through their payroll and work wages. Essentially, if you work, you pay into social security disability funds that can ultimately provide you with support in the event that you become disabled.
Who qualifies for SSD?
Qualification requirements for receiving Social Security disability benefits are strict. In the simplest terms, you must be disabled and you must have sufficient work credits in order to be eligible.
What are work credits?
Work credits are evidence that you have worked for a sufficient amount of time and that you paid federal taxes on your wages. Credits are based on your total yearly income and you can earn up to four credits per year. While the number of work credits you need to qualify for SSD can vary according to your age and when you became disabled, you generally need at least 40 credits, with exceptions for younger workers.
What is disability?
To use the Social Security Administration's definition of "disability," you will be considered disabled if:
- You cannot do work that you did previously
- The SSA determines you cannot adjust to new forms of work
- Your disability lasts for at least one year
This strict definition focuses on your disability, physical impairment or mental disorder in relation to how it affects your ability to work. While strict guidelines exist, there is room for flexibility and exceptions as the SSA deems fit. Regardless of the type of disability you have, it must result in limitations that prevent you from working.
How does the SSA determine if I am disabled?
The SSA will use their definition of disability as it relates to your ability to work when deciding whether or not you can be considered disabled. If you are unable to work, have a severe condition and are unable to do any new types of work, you will be eligible for SSD benefits.
What happens when my claim is denied?
If your claim has been denied, do not worry. Denials are a frequent occurrence, with rates as high as 80%. The SSA reports that claims are most commonly denied as a result of insufficient medical documentation, insufficient work information and a general unfamiliarity with the procedures involved in SSD claims. If you have been denied benefits, you can appeal the decision on several levels. It is also wise to seek the assistance of an attorney from Shook & Stone who can help evaluate your original claim and work toward providing the necessary information during your appeal.
What benefits can I receive?
Social Security disability benefits can provide you with direct monthly payments. The amount of the payments will depend on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security and whether or not you have received other benefits, including workers' compensation. Depending on your personal circumstances, certain members of your family may also be eligible to receive benefits on your record. These include spouses, children, disabled children and adult children disabled before the age of 22. In addition, you may also be eligible to receive benefits apart from SSD, including Medicare, food stamps or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
How long will benefits last?
You will receive SSD benefits for as long as your disability persists. The SSA will conduct periodic medical examinations and reviews of your case to verify that you are still disabled and unable to work. You are also required to report any changes in your condition.
How can an attorney help?
You are not legally obligated to have legal representation during your Social Security disability claim, but as the process can be incredibly difficult, frustrating and highly selective, an experienced and qualified attorney can make all the difference. The benefits SSD can provide are often a necessity for disabled individuals whose unfortunate situations have led to numerous struggles. Our firm understands that there is a lot riding on the success of your claim, and we know that claims are frequently denied. As a result, we want all prospective clients to understand that an attorney familiar with Social Security programs, disability determinations and other SSD intricacies can bring your case to a swift resolution and greatly reduce your risk of being denied.
Contact Us for More Answers
If you have more questions about Social Security disability or if you would like to learn more about how your claim will be affected, do not hesitate to contact Shook & Stone. Our 85 years of combined legal experience and extensive knowledge of SSD procedures has prepared us to handle whatever your case may bring. These frequently asked questions were compiled to give you a general and factual idea of the SSD process, but cases will always vary according to the particular circumstances involved. This is why we also offer free case evaluations. At Shook & Stone, we provide the personal support and compassion you deserve and the knowledgeable and experienced legal assistance you need to be successful.