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Social Security Disability FAQ

What to know about the Social Security disability program and applying for benefits.

What is “Social Security disability”?

The two largest Federal programs providing assistance to people with disabilities are the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSDI pays you (and certain family members) benefits if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. SSI is designed to pay benefits to meet the basic needs of disabled, blind, and aged people who have little or no income.

The following information pertains mostly to the Social Security Disability Insurance program.

Who is eligible for Social Security disability benefits?

Federal law puts forth a strict definition of disability in its Social Security requirements: People eligible for Social Security disability benefits must be unable to work due to a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. This means that Social Security does not offer benefits for short-term or partial disability as some other programs do.

What are the earnings requirements for disability benefits?

According to the Social Security Administration, applicants must meet two earnings tests in order to get disability benefits. These tests concern how recently you worked and how long, and are also based on your age at the time you became disabled.

When should I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

It may take up to five months for a disability benefits application to be processed, so you should apply as soon as you become disabled.

How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

Apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov or via one of the following numbers:

  • Call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213
  • If you are hard of hearing or deaf, call the toll-free TTY number: 1-800-325-0778
  • Call the local Social Security disability office in Jacksonville at 904-723-2079
What information is needed to apply for benefits?

Several forms will need to be completed as part of your application, such as the basic application and forms that collect information about your medical condition and give permission for healthcare professionals to provide information about your medical condition.
When you’re ready to apply for benefits, have this information on hand:

  • Your Social security number
  • Your birth certificate or baptismal certificate
  • The names, addresses, and phone numbers of the physicians, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you
  • The dates of your visits with healthcare professionals or facilities
  • The names and dosages of all of the medicine you take
  • Medical records that you already have in your possession
  • Test and laboratory results
  • A summary of where you worked and the type of work you did
  • A copy of your most recent W-2 Form (Wage and Tax Statement) or, if you are self-employed, your federal tax returns for the past year.
What is the process for determining if I meet the requirements for disability benefits?

The Social Administration will first review your application to ensure you meet some of the basic requirements for benefits, including whether you have worked enough years to qualify. Any current work activities will be evaluated as well. If these requirements are satisfied, your case will be forwarded to the Disability Determination Services office in your state of residence. This office completes the initial decision by gathering information from your doctors, reviewing medical evidence, and considering all of the facts in your case.
When the state agency makes its determination, a letter will be sent to you. The letter will inform you of the amount of your benefit and when payments will start if your application has been approved. If your application is not approved, the letter will tell you why and how to appeal the determination if you don’t agree with it.

Where can I get more information about SSD benefits and the application process?

The Social Security Administration’s website on disability benefits offers detailed information on the program. You can find it here: https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi/.

How Harrell & Harrell, P.A., can help.

If you are just beginning the initial application process for benefits, we encourage you to call the local Social Security disability office in Jacksonville at 904-723-2079 with your questions.

If you have already applied and your application for Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income has been denied, our experienced Social Security disability lawyers can help. Don’t hesitate to contact us online or call us at 904-251-1111 or toll-free at 1-800-251-1111 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

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