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Answers on Social Security Disability Benefits

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal “insurance program” for people who are unable to work because of a disability. Like other insurance, you must have paid into it to qualify–in other words, you must have paid into Social Security at some point.

What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a different program also through Social Security that is funded by tax revenues. It pays monthly benefits to people with disabilities who have not worked during their lives or those who have not worked for a cumulative five out of the last ten years. In calculating your SSI benefits, Social Security generally considers all of the combined income of every member in your household. Children may receive SSI in some situations.

How do you qualify for SSDI?

You must meet several criteria in order to qualify for SSDI. You must be insured, which means you must have worked and paid federal payroll taxes (FICA) for five of the last ten years. You must also apply before reaching full retirement age (65-67), and you must meet Social Security’s definition of total disability.

How is Disability Defined by Social Security?

Disability is described as having a documented mental or physical impairment that is expected to result in death or has lasted or expected to last for at least 12 months.

Can I get SSDI?

Complete our FREE Social Security disability benefits evaluation to determine if you qualify.

How do I apply for Social Security benefits?

In order to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you will need to have a birth certificate or proof of citizenship. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will ask you detailed questions about your life including: work history, health, family, marriage, and background. Please visit the SSA website to make sure that you have properly applied for Social Security disability benefits.  Please be aware that GAR Disability Advocates is not the Social Security Administration.

Do I need to hire an Advocate?

You are not required to have representation, but Social Security Administration (SSA) denies about 65 percent of people who file initial disability application without using professional representation. GAR Disability Advocates can greatly improve your chances and shorten the time of receiving disability benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring GAR Disability Advocates TM?

The Social Security Administration is probably one of the largest bureaucracies in the world! In fact, one chapter of the SSA code is 10,000 pages long. Your GAR Accredited Disability Representative will lead you through the rules and regulations of this intricate system and will prepare all documentation to build a winning claim. Your GAR Case Manager files your application and all required forms with the SSA and stays in touch with you to keep you updated throughout the approval process.

We are professional, compassionate, and responsive to each and every person who chooses us to advocate for them to get the disability benefits they deserve.

What are GAR’s fee?

Our fees are determined by government statute. GAR Disability Advocates receives 25% of the accrued benefit amount, up to $6,000. We do not impose fees up front, and only get paid if your claim is successful. If your claim is denied, you pay nothing.

How long does it take to get an initial decision?

This varies depending on the state you are in and at which office you file. It may take, however, between three to five months if initially denied. Reconsideration can take approximately three months. A second appeal, if needed, can take substantially longer (one year or more)

What if I am denied, but I still feel I deserve benefits?

SSA denies 63 percent of first-time applications. If this happens, GAR Disability Advocates know what to do to appeal SSA’s decision. Even if your case reaches the level of a court appeal, a GAR Disability Accredited Disability Representative is available to represent you in court.

How Much Money will I get?

It is hard to estimate what your benefits will be because there are so many factors that are considered in the calculation. On average, SSDI benefits will replace just under half of what you were previously earning. The national average is slightly over $800. Use our benefits calculator for more details on how much you can expect to receive.

Why should I apply for Social Security Disability?

There are financial and other benefits to applying for Social Security Disability:

  • A cost of living adjustment is made every December that increases your benefit
  • Medicare eligibility after two years, which covers hospitalizations, doctor visits, and may cover your prescriptions.
  • If you purchased COBRA coverage from your employer, you can get it extended while you wait for Medicare to begin.

And, qualifying for Social Security Disability may increase your retirement benefits

Do I get additional benefits for my children or dependents?

If you have children that have not graduated from high school or of 18 years of age or younger, they are entitled to benefits if the parent is deceased, disabled or retired. Call us for more detailed information on the amount of additional benefits you may receive.

Can you get unemployment benefits while waiting for SSDI benefits?

The receipt of unemployment benefits does not necessarily preclude you from receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. It is, however, a factor examiners consider when determining whether or not you qualify for SSDI benefits. Some administrative law judges (ALJs) may not award SSDI benefits if someone is receiving or has applied for unemployment. Disability onset dates (the date the disabling condition began or the date your condition required you to seek SSDI / affected your ability to be employed) may have to be amended to the day after someone received their last unemployment check.

The issue with unemployment versus SSDI benefits is the difference in why someone receives these benefits. When you receive SSDI, you are unable to do your past work or any other substantial gainful activity. Unemployment benefits generally indicate you are ready, willing and able to work, but haven’t found employment yet. ALJs typically look at your individual circumstances when determining the significance of your application for unemployment benefits and related efforts to obtain employment when determining if you qualify for SSDI.

If my Claim is Approved, Can I Work in Any Capacity?

If approved for SSDI, you will have the option of working for nine months to see if working will be plausible in your situation. If you earn more than $1000/month, your SSDI will be denied automatically. If you qualify for SSI (qualification is based on low-income status), your benefits will be reduced as you work more.

Can Social Security take away my SSDI benefits?

It doesn’t happen often, but you can lose your disability benefits if your condition improves to the point that you no longer meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled.” SSA must show there has been medical improvement related to your ability to work before they can cease your SSDI benefits.