If you are disabled, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. You must apply for these benefits at the local district office. The law defines disability as the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. To meet this definition, you must have a severe impairment(s) that makes you unable to do your past relevant work or any other substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy. 20 CFR §404.1505.
Disability Insurance Benefits
Disability insurance benefits are paid to disabled persons who have worked for five years out of the last ten and who have paid Social Security taxes. Most people pay these taxes through payroll deductions (FICA). If you are found disabled, the amount you will receive each month is based on the amount of FICA taxes you have paid.
Supplemental Security Income Benefits
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is paid to persons who have a severe physical or mental impairment. The same five-step analysis applies to SSI cases. SSI payments are made to individuals who have not worked for five out of the last ten years. They are not covered for disability insurance benefits. Therefore, because SSI is not based on an amount of money paid to Social Security through FICA taxes, SSI benefits are subject to offset by any other income in the family.
It is extremely important to have medical treatment and records of such treatment in order to present your case to the Social Security Administration. A claimant has the burden of proving disability.
How Do I file a claim?
You can file a claim for disability benefits by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by contacting the local district office. An appointment will be arranged for you with the district office closest to your home. You may also go to the Social Security district office in your area and file an application.
What do I do if I am denied benefits?
You must file an appeal of any denial letter within sixty (60) days of receiving a denial. If you do not file an appeal, your case will be closed and you will have to file a new claim. A large number of applicants are denied the first and second times. So, be persistent and follow through with all appeals. You may ask for the appeal forms at the district office. You may also hire an attorney at any time after filing your claim. If you are represented, your attorney will file the appeals for you.
Can I Hire an Attorney?
You may hire an attorney to assist you with your Social Security case at any time during the process. Attorney’s fees are payable only if the attorney is able to obtain benefits for you. The fees are set by the Social Security regulations at 25% of any past due benefits that are payable. Costs and expenses incurred during the pendency of your case are a separate matter to be agreed upon by you and your attorney. These costs generally include postage and payments for medical records, if any. All fees paid to any attorney are subject to review by the Social Security Administration and must be approved prior to being paid to your attorney.