How do I know if I quality for Social Security Disability Benefits? There are two elements you must meet to be eligible for social security disability. First, you must be ‘insured’. In other words, by virtue of working and paying payroll taxes you essentially paid for disability insurance benefits through Social Security. While the formula to determine whether you are insured is complicated, if you have not worked in a very long time, you may have lost your ‘insured’ status. Second, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. What exactly is the definition of disability that the Social Security Administration uses? Social Security Administration defines disability as an individual being disabled because they are unable to engage in any ‘substantial gainful activity’. What does that exactly mean? A nutshell answer is this — you have to be disabled for a period of 12 months or more and be unable to work any fulltime job for that period of time. Obviously, this is much more complicated, but that is an answer in a nut shell. Contact Mooney & Associates for a further evaluation if your claim. What is the difference between Social Security Disability (SSD) and Social Security Supplemental Income (SSI)? There are substantial differences in the programs. Social Security Disability (SSD) is a program paid out of payroll deduction. In other words, in order to be eligible, you must have contributed to the program through employment, hence, the work credit eligibility requirement. Eligibility is based on your work history. Generally, you must have worked at least 40 calendar quarters and have worked in 5 of the past 10 years. The amount you receive, if approved, is based on your earnings history, it is not a fixed amount. On the other hand, SSI is a needs-based, federal welfare program. AS such, you must still meet the disability definition, but you must also meet the needs requirement. Income and asset limits for an applicant are: $2000 for an individual and $3000 of a couple. The income limits are low because the program is needs based. Certain exclusion apply in terms of assets. Additional information can be obtained from the social security website. How do I apply for Social Security disability? There are a few ways you can submit an application for benefits. First, you can visit your local social security office and apply directly in person. Two, you can contact the Social Security Administration by phone at 1-800-772-1213 and apply by phone. Finally, you can visit the social security disability website. How long will it take for a decision to be made regarding my application? From the time you submit your application, it will take about two to three months until you are informed whether you are approved or denied for benefits. It can take longer if Social Security determined that they need a medical exam to make a decision on your application. Generally, some of our clients have received a decision within 6 weeks, some have waited four months. There is no steadfast rule. If I am denied, then what do I do? Quite simple. Contact Mooney & Associates right away. From the time you receive your denial letter, you have only 60 days to file an Appeal of your denial. That is precisely why it is crucial to contact us right away. We can handle filing your appeal and getting your case in order. If you miss the 60 day deadline, then you may have to reapply all over again. Some judges have accepted late filings of appeals in certain situation, such as being hospitalized during that time period for an extended period of time, however, do not count on acceptance of a late appeal. You should make every effort to have your appeal filed in a timely manner. So do not hesitate, contact Mooney & Associates right away. Do I need an Attorney if I am denied? Absolutely. In many cases, if you are not represented, the Judge assigned to your case may continue your case for you to obtain an Attorney. Don’t risk your benefits. Get the expertise needed to win your appeal. Contact Mooney & Associates right away. Technically, you are not required to have an Attorney or representative assist you with your appeal. However, your chances of getting awarded benefits are much better with proper representation. As experienced social security attorneys, we know the information and arguments the judges will need, we know how to get that information, and we know how to prepare for your hearing to prove your disability. Does my spouse’s income affect my eligibility for social security disability benefits? For social security disability (SSD), your spouse’s income is not taken into consideration. Your eligibility is based on you as an individual. If you are applying for social security supplemental income (SSI), then yes, your spouse’s income will likely be taken into consideration. Can I work part-time and still be eligible or receive social security disability benefits? Technically, yes. In some cases, applicants have been restricted by medical providers because of their disabilities to working only part time. Remember, the definition of disability for social security purposes is the inability to do any substantial gainful activity on a full time basis. However, there is an income limit. You are able to earn up to $1,040 per month gross and still be eligible for SSD benefits. I heard about a 5 month window in terms of social security disability. What is that? To put in easy terms, if you are approved for social security disability, you will not be paid for the first 5 months of disability from your alleged onset date. For example, if you apply for benefits and allege a disability onset date of January 2010, and then you are subsequently awarded benefits on appeal in 2012, you will be awarded past due benefits from June 2010 through the date of approval in 2012 plus ongoing monthly benefits. Even though you were found to be disabled back to January 2010, the first five months, January through May 2010, you will not be paid benefits. Am I eligible for any medical coverage along with social security disability? Yes, but not immediately. If you are approved for SSD, you will become eligible for Medicare coverage after you have been on SSD benefits for 24 months. The 24 months runs from the 5 month window of eligibility. What if I am disabled from working, but it is not permanent in nature, can I still get SSD benefits? Yes. If you meet the eligibility and disability requirements and will be disabled for more than 12 months of disability, you can seek SSD benefits. For example, if you are seriously injured and require surgery and will be completely disabled for 18 months, but thereafter, will be able to return to work, you can seek SSD benefits for the 18 months your were unable to work in any capacity.