Answers to Basic Social Security Disability Questions

Post by: Eric Jones | Posted Date: August 8th, 2017 |

Everyone starts the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process with far more questions than answers. The Columbus, Ohio, disability lawyers with the Jones Law Group welcome opportunities to clear up misunderstanding and to guide injured and ill individuals and their families through the Social Security system.

Read on for answers to eight of the most frequently asked questions about SSDI. We can only give basic information here, but we encourage you to schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling (614) 545-9998 or completing this online contact form. Do not miss out on benefits you not only paid for through F.I.C.A. deductions from your paychecks but now need to live your best life simply because you lack answers to your Social Security disability questions.


Who can qualify for SSDI?

With a few exceptions mostly related to children, U.S. citizens who have paid into the Social Security system are eligible to apply for federal disability benefits. Adults who spent their entire careers with a state or local government agency, a public-school system, public health care facility, or state university or community college will usually not be eligible for SSDI because they made retirement plan contributions to programs other than Social Security. Meeting with a Columbus, OH, disability attorney is a must for anyone who has questions about this most fundamental eligibility issue. Applying to the wrong program can stall or permanently block needed payments.


How does Social Security define “disability”?

An SSDI FAQ maintained by the Social Security Administration states

To meet our definition of disability, you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s):

  • That is expected to result in death, or
  • That has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.


The condition can be physical, mental, or emotional. A regularly updated list of qualifying conditions appears here.


Can my disabled child qualify for SSDI?

Children younger than 18 can qualify for SSDI through a parent or guardian who has paid into Social Security. Children who become permanently disabled between the ages of 18 and 24 but who have not established SSDI eligibility on their own can also receive federal disability benefits through a parent or legal guardian.

Note that when a child is approved for SSDI benefits, a designated adult or a representative of a residential care facility must act as the child’s federally approved payee. If the designated payee misuses or mishandles the payments, the person can be charged with federal crimes.


Do workers’ compensation or other disability benefits reduce my SSDI eligibility?

Each case will be different. SSDI and workers’ comp do not cancel each other out, but payments from one or both programs may be adjusted. On the other hand, receiving disability benefits from a state employees’ retirement plan will almost always make a person ineligible for Social Security payments. Bringing specific questions to a knowledgeable Ohio disability lawyer is one of the best ways to get reliable and understandable answers on how Social Security disability relates to other programs.


Is SSI different from SSDI?

Supplemental Security Income is awarded based solely on financial need. Many SSI recipients also qualify for SSDI because they cannot work for health reasons, but having a disability is neither a requirement nor a qualification for SSI benefits.

Applying for SSI requires submitting bank records, tax returns, documentation on all sources of income, work history, lists of investments and real estate holdings, car titles, and lists of valuable property. Applicants must have little or no income and few items of any worth in order to qualify for supplemental income.


Will returning to work make me ineligible of SSDI benefits?

Not necessarily. Certain conditions apply to people who earn income from work while receiving federal disability payments, so checking with the local Social Security office before looking for a job or accepting an offer of employment is strongly recommended.


How do I apply for SSDI?

The Social Security Administration accepts most applications for disability benefits through its website. The webpage that leads to the SSDI application form includes this two-part checklist of required information:


Information About You

  • Your Social Security number and proof of your age;
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you and the dates of your visits;
  • Names and dosages of all the medications you are taking;
  • Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics and caseworkers, that you already have in your possession;
  • Laboratory and test results;
  • A summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did; and
  • Your most recent W-2 form or, if you were self-employed, a copy of your federal tax return.


Information About Family Members

  • Social Security numbers and proof of age for each family member who may qualify for benefits; and
  • Proof of marriage, if your spouse is applying for benefits, as well as dates of prior marriages if applicable.


Can a disability lawyer help me apply for SSDI benefits?

Absolutely. An attorney who specializes in disability cases can offer assistance from day one and represent a client during application hearings and denial appeals. One of the greatest services an attorney will provide involves ensuring that all diagnoses, prognoses, and medical records are as detailed and complete as possible when the original application is submitted. Should that information need amending or expansion during an appeals process, a lawyer will be able to identify what the case reviewer wants to see.

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