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Social Security Disability Frequently Asked Questions

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration for disabled people who have worked and paid FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act) taxes for a certain amount of calendar quarters.

If you become eligible, some family members (children under 18 or under 19 if in elementary or secondary school full time; children 18 or over who become disabled before age 22; a spouse caring for a child under 16; as well as a spouse, or divorced spouse in certain instances, aged 62 or older), may also be eligible to receive separate payments to compensate for your inability to provide income. And, after you have received Social Security Disability Benefits for two years, you are eligible to receive Medicare coverage, regardless of your age.

Who is eligible for SSDI?

In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must be unable to perform substantial gainful activity by reason of a physical or mental impairment which has lasted, or is expected to last, at least twelve consecutive months. It is not necessary to wait the entire twelve month period to file a claim.

When should I apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits?

You should apply for Social Security Disability if:

  • You have been seriously ill/injured and are not able to work for an extended period of time;
  • You have an illness which is expected to end in death in less than 12 months;
  • You are unable to work and are covered by private disability insurance, your insurance carrier may require that you apply for benefits.

How long do I have to wait to file for Social Security Disability?

The process can take a long time. If you know that a physical or mental impairment is going to prevent you from working, and that inability to work is going to last for twelve consecutive months, then you can file on day one, after a week, or as soon as you know.

Do I need a lawyer to file a Social Security Disability Insurance claim?

You do not need an attorney to file and pursue a claim. However, statistics do show that individuals who seek the advice of an attorney before they apply for disability insurance benefits, are far more successful at obtaining all the benefits to which they are entitled. We handle hundreds of cases and are familiar with the process — we can help you every step of the way.

What is your fee?

Rothman Gordon does not charge unless we win your case. The Social Security Administration must approve our fee, which is 25% of past due benefits or $6,000.00, whichever is less. Past due benefits accumulate while we go through the process. Most people are denied the first and second time, even with a lawyer’s help. After a second denial, we request a hearing. In total, the process can take 18-24 months.

If there are no past-due benefits, the Social Security Administration still has to approve our fee. Once approved, most clients pay a lump sum, although monthly payments can be arranged.

What if I have multiple health issues?

The Social Security Administration will analyze all of your health issues and determine how they may impact your ability to work, both on their own and combined. If you are seeing multiple doctors, it is important to talk to all of them about all of your issues and how, when combined, they are impacting your ability to work.

How much can I collect on Social Security Disability?

It depends. The Social Security Administration uses different formulas to determine benefits, based on which program you are applying for.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are based on the amount of time you worked in the past and how much you earned during that time.
  • Disabled Widow/Widower benefits are based on the amount of time your spouse worked and how much he/she earned during that time.
  • Disabled Adult Child benefits are based on the amount of time the child’s parents worked and how much they earned.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is calculated differently. A new base amount is set every year.

What is an onset date?

We submit the date we believe you became disabled to Social Security, which is called your onset date. Benefits begin five months from your onset date. (A few certain diseases, such as ALS and stage 4 kidney disease have their own /different rules. See our article ALS Disability Insurance Access Act passed.) However, the Judge may disagree with our assessment of when you became disabled and has the ability to determine a later onset date. For example, we may submit that you became disabled in January, but the Judge may decide that the medical evidence suggests your disability began in March. March would become your onset date and your benefits would begin in August.

How long can I collect Social Security Disability?

As long as your disability continues, you can collect benefits until your regular retirement age. However, Social Security has the right to review your condition and possibly stop benefits if they suspect you are no longer disabled.

If I am awarded Social Security Disability, can I work at any other job?

Yes, you can work after you are awarded Social Security Disability, but you must keep your amount earned below $1310 for 2021. Also, be aware that the amount changes every year (a modest increase) but any amount invites closer scrutiny by the Social Security Administration, which can review your claim every year or two until you reach full retirement age to see if you have a sustained medical improvement.

Will this Social Security Disability affect my pension?

Being on Social Security Disability has no impact on your pension.

What will I do about healthcare in the future?

Medicare kicks in approximately 24 to 29 months after you have been declared disabled. The calculation usually takes place 24 months after the date you receive your first check.

Should I pursue a settlement from my employer in lieu of claiming Social Security Disability?

There is no need to pursue a Workers’ Compensation settlement in lieu of Social Security Disability. We regularly pursue both if we have the proper foundation for a Social Security Disability claim and we anticipate the person will be expected to be unable to work or make more than $1310 for 12 months or more.

Can I file for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits while I am receiving Workers’ Compensation?

Yes. If you are totally disabled and are receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, we may recommend that you apply for benefits as a “safety net” should anything adverse happen to your Workers’ Compensation benefits, or to provide a monthly income should you settle your Workers’ Compensation claim for a lump sum amount.

What if my claim was denied?

Rarely does someone have disability insurance benefits approved on their initial application. If there is denial of the claim at the first step, the next step of appeal will be directly to an administrative law judge.

If you believe your health is preventing you from working, please contact us online or call (412) 338-1176.