Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Supplemental Security Income is for low or no income citizens or for a “qualified alien” who is 65 years of age or older, blind or disabled. It provides money for basic needs. One must have less that $2,000 in resources ($3,000 if married) to qualify for SSI. Benefits are paid the month after the application is filed.

Social Security Disability, on the other hand, is available to those who are ‘insured’. This means that you have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. You also must be a citizen or qualified alien. If you are not a citizen you must meet one of the exceptions.

Yes, if your case involves a:

  • terminal illness
  • military service casualty
  • suicidal or homicidal claimant
  • compassionate allowance
  • dire need
Your disability must last a year or be expected to last a year or result in death within one year.
Social Security will only pay you past-due benefits one year prior to the day you filed your application.  This is even if they find you disabled much earlier than that.  However, previous applications and denials may affect this. In Supplemental Security Income Cases (SSI) cases you will only get paid from the date of your application.
This depends on many things, most importantly, how much you put into Social Security through paying your taxes over the years. You can request this information from the Social Security Administration.

Generally, attorneys who handle Social Security Disability Income (SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) cases will charge 25% of past-due benefits. At present, $6,000 is the most that can be charged. They will only get paid if you win your case.

It depends on your individual case. Those with limited resources should apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Anyone who has worked for a significant amount of time should see about applying for Social Security disability (SSD or SSDI). Many people may qualify under both programs.

Social Security will evaluate your claim on all of your conditions combined and how they together affect your ability to work. In fact, Social Security must evaluate your conditions even the ones that are not as severe.

A child up to 18 years old may receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) child benefits if they are found disabled by Social Security and the parents income and resources are low enough. Social Security defines disability in children. Under title XVI, a child under age 18 will be considered disabled if he or she has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that causes marked and severe functional limitations, and that can be expected to cause death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

  • Is the child working at substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. If the child is working the claim for child’s SSI will be denied. If the child is not working, we move to step 2.
  • Does the child claimant have a severe impairment. If not, the child will be denied. If the child has a severe impairment we move to step 3.
  • Does the child impairment meet, medically equal or functionally equal one of the listed impairments.

If a child clearly meets a listing, the child will usually win fairly quickly if all supporting medical records are in. For a child to functionally equal a listed impairment, the child must have marked limitations in two domains or an extreme limitation in one. The six domains are:

  • Acquiring and Using Information
  • Attending and Completing Tasks
  • Interacting and Relating with Others
  • Moving About and Manipulating Objects
  • Caring for Yourself
  • Health and Physical Well Being
  • The appeal process varies from State to State.
  • When you first apply, the field office will verify age, marital status, employment and if you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance by determining the amount of taxes paid. If denied, you usually must file a request for reconsideration.
  • At the reconsideration stage, the Disability Determination Services (DDS), a State Agency, will determine if you are disabled based on your medical records and their doctors’ evaluations. If DDS finds you disabled, the field office will determine how much you are entitled to. If DDS finds your not disabled, your case will move to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Most cases are denied at the reconsideration stage.
  • When in front of an Administrative Law Judge, you will have a judge determine if you are disabled. Most cases are won at this stage.
  • If denied, you can have your case reviewed by the Appeals Council.
  • Appeals can be filed online, at your local social security office or by mail.
  • The appeals process could take up to several years.

Musculoskeletal Disorders
Arthritis and related disorders
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Degenerative Joint Disease
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Degenerative Disc Disease (including herniated, ruptured, and bulging discs)
Raynauds’s Syndrome
Sjogren’s Syndrome
Fibromyalgia (FMS)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Brachial Plexus Neuropathy
Tendonitis Bursistus
Myofacial Plain Syndrome
Chronic Pain Syndrome of the neck, back, and/or extremities
Internal Derangement, shoulder
Impingement syndrome, shoulder
Torn rotator cuff, shoulder
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Severe sprains and strains
Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD) / Complex Regional Pain Sydrome
Cervical radiculopathy
Lumbar radiculopathy
Connective Tissue Disorders
Systematic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
Psychiatric Disorders
Major Depression
Bipolar Disorder (types 1 & 2)
Anxiety disorders
Personality disorders
Panic disorders
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Neurologic Disorders
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Intracranial disease (including brain tumor, cerebral vascular disease/stroke, cerebral infections)
Spinal cord disease
Peripheral nerve disease
Neurologic manifestations, including chronic pain, headache, seizures, tremors, vertigo
Guillain-Barre syndrome
Trigeminal Neuralgia
Hepatic and Biliary Disorders
Hepatitis C
Hepatitis A and B
Liver Disease
Cardiovascular Disorders
Coronary artery disease, including Angina Pectoris and Myocardial Infarction
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Congestive Heart Failure
Myocardial disease
Venous Thrombosis
Pulmonary Edema Hypertension
Peripheral vascular disorders
Respiratory Disorders
Chronic Bronchitis
Chronic Bronchitis
Pulmonary Fribrosis
Gastrointestinal Disorders
Ulcerative colitis
Crohn’s disease
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Fecal incontinence
Migraine headaches
Morbid obesity

For Social Security Disability (SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income(SSI), disabled is defined as: The inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. 5 Step Process To Determine Disability:
  • Step One: Social Security will determine if you are working.
In 2010, if your earnings average more than $980 a month, Social Security will consider you working at Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level and generally find you not disabled. The rules are more complex for self-employed individuals
  • Step Two: Is your condition “severe.”
Social Security will consider your impairment(s) severe if your impairment interferes with basic work related activity. If not “severe,” they will find that you are not disabled.
  • Step Three: Social Security will decide if your condition is a “listed” impairment.
If your condition is on Social Security’s list and severe enough to meet the requirements of a listed impairment, you will be found disabled. If your impairment is not on the list, Social Security will determine if your condition is equal to the severity of one of the listed impairments.
  • Step Four: Social Security will decide if you can do your previous work.
If Social Security decides that your condition is severe but you don’t meet step 3, they will determine if your impairments keep you from being able to perform your past work. If Social Security decides you can perform your past work, they will find you not disabled. For example, if your previous job required you to lift 50 pounds and your medical condition limits you to lifting only 10 pounds, you would not be able to perform that particular prior work. If Social Security determines you can not perform all of your prior work for the past 15 years, then you go to the next step. If you can perform any of your past work, then they will find you not disabled.
  • Step Five: Social Security will determine if you can do any other work.
If Social Security determines that there is a significant number of jobs in the local or national economy that you can do, then you will be found not disabled. At this step, Social Security will consider your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills to other jobs you might have. If you quality, the following people may receive disability benefits as well:
  • Spouse if he or she is at least 62 years of age
  • Divorced ex-spouse
  • Unmarried children under the age 18
  • Disabled children of the age 18 or older
  • Disabled widow