Social Security Disability is a government programs that helps those who are unable to work, preferably for a year or more, support themselves. They receive benefits in the form of cash assistance to help care for their family while disabled.
Written by Keith V. Trantolo
Jump To Links
Social Security Disability is a complicated government program. When you apply and are denied benefits, many individuals don’t know who to turn to and feel forced to give up. Your fight does not have to end when you contact Trantolo and Trantolo. Our experienced SSD lawyers and paralegals have assisted many families through this complex process and helped them win.
You can access answers to some of the most common questions and concerns that we hear about the SSD process by clicking on each category below.
Low-income individuals who do not have the requisite work history to receive SSD benefits can apply for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. The applicant still needs to prove a medical or psychological disability with documentation.
Instead of work history, those applying for SSI must have income or assets below a certain requisite to qualify. This encompasses household income between you and your spouse, food stamps, property, cars and other investments. If you meet the low-income standard set by SSI, you will receive benefits, but less than that of SSDI.
This can become complicated, depending on how you became disabled. To be eligible for SSD, you must have a disabling condition keeping you from work that has lasted or is expected to last up to 12 months. Disabilities could include physical conditions, terminal illnesses or psychological disorders. If you have worked the required number of “quarters” and have paid enough taxes into the system, you should not have any trouble with eligibility. However, cases can differ. If you missed work to take care of sick family member and became disabled down the line, you might have a harder time pinpointing your timetable.
Generally speaking, you have four options to choose from:
- Speak with an SSD attorney regarding any questions about your eligibility, application or appeal.
- Locate your town’s Social Security Administration office and speak with someone there about your eligibility requirements.
- Set up an account at ssa.gov/myaccount to see how much you would be eligible to receive if you became disabled.
- Gather a rough estimate yourself, based on the information from your federal income tax forms.
HIRING AN ATTORNEY
Hiring an attorney to help with your SSD claim is a huge asset. The legal work can be taken off of your shoulders so you can concentrate on getting better, taking care of yourself and your family. An attorney can:
- File your appeal for you
- Speak with the SSA on your behalf
- Answer any questions you have throughout the process
- Obtain your medical records
- Be your counselor every step of the way
Another important advantage of hiring an SSD attorney comes into play at the hearing. Our lawyers are very likely to be familiar with the judge who will be deciding your case, which allows us to better prepare you to win. Our success rate and client reviews speak for themselves!
Trantolo & Trantolo has been a personal injury law firm for over 80 years. We have been able to continue the legacy of Joseph Trantolo by making our clients very happy who, in return, give us very high satisfaction ratings. With four offices in Connecticut, we are a local firm who will take the time to truly get to know you. There is nothing worse than arriving at an SSD hearing and having to wait for a lawyer to call out your name because you’ve never met each other in person. At Trantolo & Trantolo, you will be able to speak to our talented staff any time you want. This open line of communication offers a personal touch that other firms will not be able to provide.
You absolutely do not have to wait until you receive a denial to contact us. From the moment you decide to apply, you are welcome to consult our SSD lawyers or paralegals with any questions you have. Our clients have come to us with questions prior to even starting the application process. A lawyer can represent you throughout your claim, from the very beginning to the very end. We recommend the sooner the better to help you with:
- Developing your case
- Answering your questions
- Dealing with Social Security
- Helping you gather the medical evidence
- Aiding and getting a favorable decision earlier
We want our clients to focus on getting better while we handle the legal work.
There is no need to worry that hiring an attorney will significantly diminish your settlement. By federal law, if you win your case with an attorney, he or she cannot make more than $6,000 or 25 percent of what you win – whichever is less. If you win, your attorney is entitled to obtain this amount from the sum you have received since your benefits started. Before your legal representation begins, you can check with your attorney to make sure he or she abides by this fee agreement.
The bottom line to understand is that unless you win your case, the attorney does not profit. So, you both have the same goal of winning as much as possible, as quickly as possible.
The application form to apply for SSD benefits is available on the Social Security Administration website. You will need to provide your basic background information, work history and details about your disability.
There are several resources available to help you file your SSD application. If you schedule an appointment with your local SSA office, they will help you apply online or over the phone. One of the benefits of this option is that the date you schedule the appointment is considered a protected filing date. This will help you get more benefits farther back from the date of your appointment.
The second option is to contact one of our experienced SSD lawyers or paralegals. They can help you get in contact with your local SSA office and answer any questions you may have about starting the process.
We like to say that there are three levels to the process.
- First is the application level. Once you apply, you can begin gathering your medical records and building your case while you wait to hear whether or not you were approved. During this time, the medical and psychological reviewers will evaluate your case and come to a final decision between two and six months.
- The second level is filing a reconsideration appeal. It is important to remember that 70 to 80 percent of applicants are denied at the application level, so do not be discouraged if you have to go through the appeals process. You will be required to file more paperwork and gather more evidence to support your claim while the SSA reviews your initial denial. This level takes another two to six months on average in the state of CT.
- If your appeal is denied, the final level in what we call the action stage: the request of a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The action stage is the point at which our clients have the highest likelihood of winning their case. A Trantolo & Trantolo attorney will help you to prepare and be by your side at the hearing. This process can be lengthy, with most people having to wait over a year to get a hearing, but we will be with you from beginning to end.
Yes, you are able to apply for SSD benefits, but you must adhere to the rules set by federal law. In order to be eligible, you must be making less than what the SSA refers to as “Substantial Gainful Activity.” This amounts to a little more than $1,000 a month before taxes.
You must also be working in a part-time capacity. However, you need to be able to show a judge that the activities you are restricted from performing are the result of your disabling condition. For example, if you’re an NFL linebacker applying for SSD, you will likely be denied because, although you work in a part-time capacity, the job is physically demanding.
It is a common misconception that you have to be out of work for at least a year before applying for SSD benefits. You can apply as soon as you stop working or before, if you cut your hours dramatically and are earning less than $1,000 a month. As soon as you become physically incapable of continuing the duties of your job, you have the right to apply for SSD and are encouraged to do so. Some of our clients have won their cases within a couple of months of stopping work.
There are several circumstances in which it is too late to apply for benefits:
- The first is reaching retirement age. When you are no longer in the job pool, you become ineligible to receive benefits from Social Security.
- The second is related to your ability to prove the time period during which you came disabled. For example, those seeking disability 10 years after stopping work have to be able to prove with documentation that the disabling condition arose five to six years since they last worked at most.
- The third involves those who were expecting to go back to work, but were unable to return.
Contact an attorney to find out when your disability needs to be proven by based on your situation.
Although some individuals win at the first or second level of the process, most cases go through the entire process. While you should be prepared to attend a hearing, we have had some clients receive a favorable decision at this level before getting in front of the administrative law judge. Do not be nervous about going to a hearing; your skilled and knowledgeable attorney will be there to assist you every step of the way.
RECEIVING SSD BENEFITS
There are several factors that help determine how long you can receive benefits:
- Age Eligibility: From the time you are approved for your disability to when you reach full retirement age, you can receive SSD benefits. Once you reach that 65 – 66-year-old threshold, those who are still disabled are required to switch to the Federal Retirement Program.
- Health and Physical Condition: If your disability heals, you can try a “trial work period,” during which you test your ability to return to work. You do not lose your benefits during this time. If you return to work and soon become disabled again, the process to recover your lost benefits would be expedited.
- SSA Determination: You could also lose your benefits if the Social Security Administration concludes that you’re no longer disabled or you pass away.
Every individual receiving SSD benefits is periodically reviewed by the Social Security Administration. If you have an apparent disability, such as the loss of an arm or leg, rarely will your benefits be taken away. However, if your condition is judged to be no longer disabling, you can appeal the decision. SSD benefits can also be terminated when you reach full retirement age or are able to return to full-time work.
Yes, you absolutely can receive workers’ compensation and SSD benefits. However, you are only allowed to receive so much money from each program at the same time. Your benefits from both cannot exceed 80 percent of what your average salary would have been if you hadn’t been sidelines by a disability. If at any point during the time that you’re receiving SSD and workers’ compensation benefits you exceed that 80 percent threshold, the SSD benefits will be lessened.
If you have the opportunity to receive both at the same time, contact an attorney, who can do a thorough evaluation of what your rate for both would be. Your SSD and workers’ compensation attorneys should be in contact to address any conflicting issues, in order to benefit you in the best possible way.