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Social Security Disability

What is SSDI?

SSDI, provides benefits to individuals who are disabled or blind. SSDI is funded by employee’s contributions to the Social Security trust fund, or the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) social security tax paid on yearly earnings.

 

How do you qualify for SSDI?

You must be insured which generally means that you must have worked and paid into the program via your payroll taxes for five of the last 10 years. You must either be not working or working and earning less than $1,740 per month if you are blind and $1,040 if you are not blind. You must also be deemed medically disabled by the Social Security Administration before reaching full-retirement age which is between the ages of 65-67 depending on your birth date. You may also qualify if you are a widower or an adult child of an individual with a disability. An adult child is one who’s qualifying disability occurs prior to age 22 and remains in continuance. An adult child receives benefits based on the work history of a parent.

 

Do I qualify for SSDI?

Contact us to find out. If you qualify, we will file your SSDI application.

 

Why apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?

SSDI provides income until your condition improves, offers assistance to help you return to work and provides ongoing income in the even you condition fails to improve. You are entitled to SSDI based on the payroll taxes you have paid throughout your working career. Also, upon receipt of SSDI benefits, you will qualify for other important programs like Medicare.

 

What is Social Security’s definition of “disability”?

Generally, it’s being unable to work in any and all jobs because of a verifiable mental or physical impairment expected to result in death, or has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least 12 months.

 

Is it difficult to get Social Security disability benefits?

It can be a daunting process. The Social Security Administration denies 2 out of every 3 initial applications for SSDI benefits. The SSDI application process can also take a long time. On average the process takes 2-3 years from filing the initial application to when your case is scheduled for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

 

Do I need an attorney to assist me in the process?

You don’t need one, but it is highly recommended. Due to the nature of administrative hearings, there is a large amount of paper work and important deadlines involved in the SSDI application process. Having an attorney may dramatically improve and increase your chances of receiving disability benefits. Statistics show that claimants who are represented are more likely to win their case and the vast majority of SSDI applicants do hire a lawyer to handle their appeal. A lawyer representing you at the hearing will make sure all the important questions are asked of both you and the government’s expert witnesses to build a solid record for your case. Your lawyer will also request all your medical records, use them to build your case and then present a winnable theory of disability to the Administrative Law Judge at your hearing.

 

Why should I choose you to help me get SSDI?

  • We are a local law firm dedicated to excellent customer service.
  • We will represent you at all levels of the SSDI process, from application through appeals.
  • We employ attorneys who have a high success rate and years of experience representing people before Administrative Law Judges in the Philadelphia metro and South Jersey area.
  • We simplify a very complicated process and do all of the paperwork, collect medical records, prepare you for a hearing, personally represent you at the hearing and speak to the SSA on your behalf. We also actively check the status of your claim on a regular basis to always keep you informed on the progress of your case.

 

How much do you charge?

The Social Security Administration governs attorney’s fees. The maximum fee chargeable under law is 25 percent of the retroactive (back) award which cannot exceed $6,000. We only charge a fee if we are successful in obtaining your benefits. There may also be additional expenses such as a fee for obtaining medical records.

 

How long does it take to get a decision after the hearing?

It typically takes 60 to 90 days after the hearing to receive a decision.

 

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 that Administrative Law Judges can consider when determining whether or not you qualify for SSDI benefits for the following reason. When you apply for SSDI, you are asserting that you are unable to do your past work or any other work. When you collect unemployment benefits you are stating that you are you are ready, willing and able to work, but haven’t found employment yet. These two issues present a conflict. Some administrative law judges 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) may have to be amended to the day after you received your last unemployment check. Administrative Law Judges typically look at the individual circumstances under which you applied for unemployment benefits when determining if you qualify for SSDI.

 

If I am approved for SSDI, how much will I get per month?

Your monthly benefit amount is based on your Social Security earnings record. It’s a complicated formula mostly determined by the amount of your past earnings that you have paid FICA taxes on.

 

Can Social Security take away my Social Security Disability Insurance 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 stop payment of your SSDI benefits.

 

Can I get additional benefits if I have children/dependents?

Children up to age 18 or who have not graduated from high school are entitled to benefits if a parent is deceased, retired or disabled. Generally, dependent children of a disabled parent will receive about 50 percent of the disabled parent’s monthly benefit with the 50 percent divided equally among all eligible dependents.

 

Will receipt of Worker’s Compensation and other disability payments affect my benefits?

Disability payments from private sources, such as private pension or insurance benefits, do not affect SSDI benefits. However, workers compensation (WC) and other public disability benefits may reduce your SSDI benefits. Other public disability payments that may affect your SSDI benefits are those paid by a federal, state or local government for disabling medical conditions that are not job related-civil service, state temporary and state or local government retirement benefits that are based on disability. If you receive WC and or other public disability benefits, the total amount of these benefits cannot exceed 80% of your average current earnings before you became disabled. For example, your monthly SSDI benefits, including benefits payable to your family members, are added together with your WC and other public disability payments. If the total amount of these benefits exceeds 80% of your average current earnings, the excess amount is deducted from your SSDI benefit. If you get a lump sum WC or other disability payment in addition to or instead of a monthly benefits, this may also affect your SSDI payment. VA benefits, State and local government benefits (if FICA taxes were withheld from these earnings) and SSI benefits will not reduce your SSDI benefits.

 

How about Medicaid and Medicare? Am I eligible?

Medicaid is a program funded by states and the federal government to provide various insurance coverages for low income citizens including families, children, elderly and the disabled. Medicaid services and eligibility requirements vary state by state.

Medicare is a federally funded program and coverage is automatically granted after receiving disability benefits for two years.

 

What is SSI? Am I eligible?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a welfare based program and is based solely on financial need. If your household income exceeds $710 per month as an individual or $1,066 for a couple, or the value of your resources are above $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 for a couple, then you are not eligible for SSI.

When we file your application for SSDI we will collect financial information from you to determine whether or not you qualify for SSI. If you qualify, we will also file your SSI application. If SSA ultimately determines that you do not qualify for SSI, we will continue to pursue your SSDI application.

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

 

Will drug or alcohol abuse affect my SSDI claim?

It has to be shown that the drug or alcohol abuse is “material” to the disability for it to affect your claim. What this means is the alcohol or drug addiction must be found to be a contributing factor material to one’s disability. The Social Security Administration will first determine if you are disabled with all of your conditions including your addiction. If they decide you are disabled, Social Security will then determine if the addiction was not present, would you still be disabled. The best way to think about how this may apply to you is: if you took away the abuse problem and all the effects that it has on you mentally and physically, would you still be disabled. If the answer is yes, then the drug or alcohol abuse is not “material” to the disability.

 

Do I have to pay income taxes on SSDI benefits?

You will have to pay Federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a Federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000. Social Security has no authority to withhold state or local taxes from your benefit. Many states and local authorities do not tax Social Security benefits. You should contact your state or local taxing authority for more information.

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