Frequently Asked Questions
1. What does it mean to be disabled in the Social Security system?
Under the Social Security system, disability is defined as “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period not less than 12 months.”
2. How do I apply for Social Security Disability?
You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits in person through the closest Social Security office or online at http://www.ssa.gov/. You can also call an attorney for advice or assistance in filing an application.
3. What can I do if Social Security denies my application for disability benefits?
If your application is denied, you have 60 days to appeal by filing a “Reconsideration.” If your claim is denied again, you will have 60 days to appeal again by filing a form to ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge. If your claim is denied by an administrative law judge, you will have 60 days to file a form to appeal to the appeals council. If your claim is denied by the appeals council, you will have 60 days to file a lawsuit in federal court.
4. What is the difference between Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
Social Security Disability is applicable when people are working and paying Social Security taxes. Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes are withheld by the Social Security Administration when wages are paid.
If you work and earn enough credits, you become insured for a disability benefit. Generally, you need to work five years out of the last ten years before you can become disabled under the Social Security Disability program. If you are awarded Social Security Disability benefits, you would also eventually receive Medicare. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program administered by Social Security and funded by general, federal tax revenues. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays monthly benefits to the elderly, the blind and people with disabilities who have low income and very limited assets. If approved for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you will also begin receiving Medicaid.
5. Will I need to get an attorney?
You are not required to get an attorney to represent you in your claim for disability benefits. However, the Social Security Disability system is very complicated and involves many rules, regulations and court decisions requiring interpretation and application to your particular circumstances. Getting an experienced attorney in this area of the law can be of great assistance in getting your claim approved.
6. How much will an attorney charge?
Law Office of Rodney F. Durham does not charge a fee unless your claim is approved. If your claim is approved, the Social Security Administration generally approves a fee of 25 percent of past-due benefits. If there are no past-due benefits paid, there will be no attorney fees.
7. Can I receive partial Social Security Disability benefits?
No. You cannot receive partial Social Security Disability benefits. However, if your condition worsens (to the point where you’re unable to perform work on a full-time basis) you may become eligible for disability benefits.
8. If I’m disabled, are my children entitled to benefits?
If a parent is deceased, retired or disabled, children who are under the age 19, not graduated from high school or disabled prior to age 22 are usually entitled to benefits. The total benefit amount received by dependent children is limited to 50 percent of the parent’s monthly Social Security check.
9. Am I entitled to Medicare when approved for Social Security Disability?
If found disabled and eligible for Social Security Disability, you must wait five months after the established onset date of disability before becoming eligible for cash Social Security Disability benefits. Then, you must wait two years from the date eligible for Social Security Disability benefits before you’re eligible for Medicare benefits. So, Medicare benefits don’t begin until 29 months from the established onset of disability.
10. If I’m over 65 and receive Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare, can I receive additional benefits if I’m disabled?
After age 65 (or a later retirement age), you cannot draw additional Social Security benefits due to disability.
11. Are a widow’s Social Security benefits available at age 60?
Yes, at age 60 a widow is eligible for Social Security benefits without being disabled. A widow must be found disabled between the ages of 50-59 in order to receive disabled widow’s benefits.
12. How long should I wait before I file for Social Security Disability benefits?
A person who suffers serious illness or injury and expects to be out of work for a year or more should not delay in filing a claim for Social Security Disability benefits. You should file your claim as soon as possible if you believe your injury or illness is serious.
13. I got hurt on the job and filed a workers’ compensation claim. I now receive weekly workers’ compensation checks. Can I file a claim for Social Security Disability now or should I wait until later?
You do not have to wait until the workers’ compensation checks stop. You should file the Social Security Disability claim as soon as possible.
14. How does Social Security determine if I am disabled?
Social Security should order your medical records and evaluate your health problems, as well as your age, education and past work experience. If they decide that you are unable to do your past work, they should consider whether there is any other work that you can do considering your impairments, your age, education and past work experience.
15. How do I contact Law Office of Rodney F. Durham?
Usually it is best to contact our office during business hours by telephone. However, you may use any of the methods of communications set out on this page or on our Contact Us page.
Rodney F. Durham, Attorney
306 South Main Street, Victoria, TX 77901-1397
Monday – Thursday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.