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Social Security Disability FAQs

Helpful Answers from Our Florida SSD Lawyers

The process of filing for and receiving Social Security disability benefits can be complex and lengthy. At Michles & Booth, we understand that you likely have a few questions about what to expect. Here, our Florida SSD lawyers have compiled commonly asked questions about Social Security disability and provided answers for you. We invite you to browse our SSD FAQs to learn more, or contact us directly to discuss your unique situation.

Your initial consultation is entirely free. Call (800) 848-6168 to get started.

What are Social Security disability benefits?

Social Security disability benefits are payments made to individuals who are unable to work due to a physical or mental disability. These benefits are funded by the SSA and are based on the individual's work history and earnings.

How do I qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

To qualify for these benefits, you must have worked in jobs covered by social security, including having a medical condition that meets social security's definition of disability.

How long does it take to get approved for Social Security Disability?

From the date you apply for benefits, the process can take 36 months or longer to get to a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. You can be accepted at any point in the 36+ month period, but a claimant must be both emotionally and financially prepared for the process to take as long as three years. With very few exceptions (such as veteran injured in combat), there is no way to speed up the process.

How often do I need to reapply for Social Security benefits?

You will need to reapply for social security disability benefits every 12 months. Nonetheless, you may be able to receive benefits for a longer period of time if your medical condition is expected to improve. If your medical condition does not improve, you will need to provide updated information about your condition and work history in order to continue receiving benefits.

For example, if you are disabled and receiving social security disability benefits, you will need to reapply for those benefits every few years. The Social Security Administration will send you a notice in the mail telling you when it is time to reapply.

If you are retired and receiving social security retirement benefits, you do not need to reapply for those benefits. However, you should notify the Social Security Administration if there are any changes in your circumstances that might affect your benefits, such as changes in your address, phone number, or marital status.

A social security disability lawyer can assist you in reapplying for social security disability benefits. They can also help you ensure that you are providing the necessary information about your medical condition and work history.

Do I pay income tax on my SSDI benefits?

Yes, after a threshold amount determined annually by congress.

Can I work while receiving SSDI benefits?

Yes, the SSA has rules that allow you to perform limited work without losing monthly SSDI benefits.

What employment is permitted while on/applying for disability?

Disability is the inability to perform substantial gainful activity, which the Social Security Administration defines as earning $1,070.00 per month for 2014. That means that as long as you earn less than $1,070.00 per month, you should be able to work and apply for/collect disability payments.

What happens to my benefits when I reach full retirement age?

Nothing; your disability benefits will simply be called “retirement benefits” from that point forward.

Is there a “waiting period” before I can receive cash benefits?

Yes, there is a five-month waiting period before you can start to draw cash benefits. This “waiting period” applies to the date you became disabled, so if you wait 18 months for a hearing, you will be well past your “waiting period” and will begin to receive benefits immediately.

What about a Medicare “waiting period?”

There is a 24-month Medicare waiting period form the date you are found to have become disabled. For this reason it is not uncommon to have to wait six months or more after the decision before you are eligible for medical benefits.

Does Social Security have short-term or partial disability?

No, SSDI only covers you if you are completely disabled and unable to work for a period of at least a year.

Will my private disability policy affect my SSDI benefits?

No. However, your private policy may reduce your benefits if you are accepted for SSDI cash benefits.

Does my workers’ compensation or other public disability benefits affect my SSDI benefits?

Yes, the benefits will offset with the state program having the right to take the offset in Florida. If the state program does not take the offset, then the SSA will.

Does the SSA make compassionate allowances to speed up my claim based on the severity of my condition?

Yes. Please see here for a list of conditions that qualify for an expedited decision.

How does drug and/or alcohol abuse affect my SSDI claim?

If drug or alcohol abuse is found to be a “material” factor in your disability claim, you will not be found disabled.

What should I do to improve my chances at my SSDI hearing?

The single most important thing you can do to help your chances of being found disabled is to consistently seek medical treatment. There are free clinics in almost every community in the United States. The number one reason applicants are denied benefits is lack of objective medical findings to support the severity and extent of the disability. Regularly seeing a doctor can help you overcome that deficiency.

What does “Date Last Insured” mean?

Date Last Insured (“DLI”) is the date by which you must be found disabled in order to receive Social Security Disability Insurance. Generally speaking, you must have worked consistently for five of the past ten years in order to qualify for disability. In general, if you have not worked in more than 5 years, you will be past your DLI and will only be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits (“SSI”).

What does “Alleged Onset Date” mean?

Alleged Onset Date (“AOD”) is the date you contend on which you became unable to work. It will typically be based on your actual last day at work, or on some significant medical event. It is the AOD that must pre-date your Date Last Insured. Typically, you should apply for disability no more than 12 months after your AOD in order to avoid losing valuable back pay.

When does Medicare eligibility starts?

Generally speaking, your medical (Medicare) benefits begin in the 24th full month following your Alleged Onset Date as decided by the Administrative Law Judge. For example, if your AOD is July 15th, your Medicare benefits will not start until the August, which is two years away.

The difference between SSI and SSDI?

SSI is Supplemental Security Income. SSDI is Social Security Disability Insurance. Both have the same medical requirement for qualification, but SSI does not require any past work history and is also based on household income and assets. Receipt of SSDI benefits is not dependent on household income or assets, only your work history and medical condition.

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