Frequently Asked Questions

Ortega Disability Group

What is the difference between Social Security Disability (SSD) vs Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Both programs require you to prove you are unable to work due to a medical disability. However, not everyone who is unable to work will be eligible for either of the two benefits. In addition to proving your inability to work, you must also prove other eligibility requirements. For SSD benefits, your SSDI attorney must have worked for a sufficient time period in order to be eligible. Your condition also must have become disabling within a set period of time after you stopped working.

Eligibility for SSI benefits requires an individual have very little or no income and very little assets. Your spouse’s income or assets will also be counted for eligibility purposes.

Your entitlement amount for Social Security benefits varies based on several different factors. For SSD benefits, it is based on the amount of Social Security disability taxes you have paid while you or the wage earner were employed. For Supplemental Security Income benefits, your entitlement varies based on your household income and assets.

There are no set deadlines for the Social Security Administration to make a decision. Those that are fortunate to have their cases approved at the initial application phase will obtain a decision in as little as 5-6 months. However, applicants who are not fortunate enough to have their initial claims granted often find that their cases take over a year or more to obtain a final decision in their claims.

It is not required that you obtain an advocate. Many people who apply for Social Security disability benefits are denied initially. An advocate does not guarantee success. However, it does allow a claimant who may not be familiar with Social Security’s regulations and procedures to have someone with years of experience advocating on their behalf. People who are disabled and are unable to work cannot afford to take chances with their claims.

The earlier you obtain an advocate the better. You do not have to wait until the hearing to obtain an advocate.

The Social Security Administration regulates all fees for representatives. Most advocates limit their fees to 25% of the retroactive award recovered for the claimant. The Social Security Administration will pay your advocate directly from your retroactive award. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about settling up with your advocate on your own. The Social Security Administration will send awardees a detailed summary of the percentage and total fees taken out for legal representation. No fee is owed for claimants who do not win their case.

All applicants approved for continuing benefits can have their claims reviewed in the future to see if there has been a medical improvement in their condition. The timing of such reviews is based on several factors, such as the type of disability, whether there is an expectation that the condition may improve. All benefit cases must go under review at some point, unless the disabled individual is permanently blind.

The receipt of other types of benefits does not necessarily preclude you from receiving Social Security benefits. Each case is different, so it is important that you consult with an advocate (SSDI attorney) that is familiar with the complex requirements of the various types of benefits. Your advocate will be able to explain any situation unique to your case.

The regulations provide that cases are generally processed in the order filed. However, practically speaking, there are many things that can be done to ensure that your case is decided as early as possible. One thing is to ensure that the necessary medical and documentary information is provided to the administration as early as possible. The regulations also have a provision for accelerating the process for dire cases. Under certain circumstances, a case can be given “dire need” status by the Social Security Administration, which generally result in a quicker decision.

Under certain circumstances, the dependents of people who receive Social Security Disability benefits may also be eligible for what is called auxiliary benefits. Our experienced SSD attorney can help you understand whether your children qualify for these benefits.

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