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Top Questions You Have About Social Security Disability

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

More than 86,000 workplace injuries were recorded in Michigan in 2019. This is 2.8% of all full-time workers. While 164 fatal work injuries were reported in the same time frame, workplace injuries can prevent you from working for extended periods.

If you’ve experienced a workplace injury or medical condition that prevents you from being able to work, you should file a claim to determine whether you’re entitled to SSDI or SSI benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) governs supplemental security income disability programs to help those with disabilities. The two types of benefits you can apply for are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Before you apply, review some answers to frequently asked questions regarding disability benefits to determine if you’re eligible.

1. What’s the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI payments are calculated using your average income before you became disabled. The payment amount is based on the amount of income you’ve paid in social security in previous years, known as your covered earnings.

You must have 6 calendar quarters or 1½ years of work history to be entitled to SSDI if you become disabled before age 28. If you are older than 28, your total work history requirement increases gradually. The maximum you need is 9½ years before age 60.

Supplemental Security Income

SSI is available to those with low income and low resources. The income you receive is reduced if you collect payments from other sources, such as retirement benefits.

2. Who is Entitled to Social Security Disability Pay?

Approximately 89% of the U.S. workforce between 21 and 64 contribute to the social security system through payroll or self-employment tax payments, making them eligible for social security benefits.

Social Security disability benefits are dependent on whether your medical problems are part of the Social Security Listing of Impairments.

3. How Does Social Security Define Disability?

If you are working and earning more than $1,310 per month as of 2020, you don’t qualify as disabled. The following criteria are considered by the Disability Determination Services (DDS).

How severe is your condition?

If your condition is severe enough to impede your memory or ability to complete work-based tasks like walking, sitting, standing, lifting for at least one year, you may be considered disabled.

Is your condition on the list of disabling conditions?

Social security maintains lists of medical conditions that qualify you as being disabled. If your condition isn’t on the list, social security must specifically consider your case to determine the severity of your injury or illness.

Can you perform the work you did previously?

Social security uses information about your condition to determine whether your impairment stops you from doing the work you did previously.

Are you capable of performing any other types of work?

Although you may be incapable of performing the type of work you did previously, you may have the ability to work in another capacity. You may not qualify for benefits if your skills and abilities are transferable to another industry or job.

4. How Do You Apply for Social Security Disability Pay?

There are three main ways to apply for social security disability benefits:

  • Online
  • Over the phone
  • At your local social security office (an appointment is preferred)

Critical information you need for your SSD benefits application includes:

  • Information about your doctors, hospital stays, and medical appointments
  • List of your medications
  • Copy of your medical records
  • Social security number
  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Proof of residency or citizenship
  • W-2 form or a copy of your most recent tax return
  • Information on worker’s compensation, including benefit amounts or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Job list summary for the past 15 years

Social Security Disability Attorney

5. Do I Need An Attorney to Help With My Social Security Disability Claim?

Although it isn’t a requirement to hire a disability lawyer to help with your claim, it is beneficial. By hiring the services of a reputable law firm, you increase the likelihood of your application being accepted. An experienced lawyer can help you complete the mandatory documentation and prove that your disability qualifies for benefits.

A disability lawyer can also assist you if your original claim was denied and you’re working through the appeals process.

6. How Are the Legal Fees Paid?

One of the key advantages of working with a disability lawyer is that some firms work on a contingency basis. This means you don’t have to pay any legal fees until your application has been approved and you’re waiting to receive compensation.

At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., you don’t pay unless we win a settlement in your case. We offer our clients a free case evaluation and charge no legal fees unless disability recovery is made.

According to Social Security law, a disability lawyer cannot be paid more than $6,000 or 25% of your backpay, whichever is less. Out of pocket expenses such as postage, copying, and medical examinations are also deducted from your backpay.

7. What Are My Options if My Claim is Denied?

Decisions regarding your claim typically take about 3 to 5 months. Appeals for denied SSD applications can be filed within 60 days. Providing further medical records, documentation, or other application information can lead to your appeal being accepted, making you eligible to receive disability payments.

If your appeal is denied again, you can progress to the next stage of the appeals process or re-apply. If your situation hasn’t changed, there is little point in re-applying. Working with a skilled attorney gives you the best chance at receiving a favorable decision during the appeals process.

There are four levels in the appeals process for receiving benefits from Social Security. These include:

  • Reconsideration
  • Hearing by a judge
  • Appeals Council review
  • Federal Court review

8. How Long Can I Receive Social Security Disability Pay?

You can receive SSDI benefits until you reach full retirement age, which is 62 in Michigan. At this point, disability payments stop, and you start receiving social security retirement benefits instead. The payment automatically converts from disability to retirement benefits, but your payment amount remains roughly the same.

Work With Experienced Disability Lawyers in Michigan

If you’re unable to work due to an injury or illness, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability Income. At Cochran, Kroll & Associates, PC, our skilled team of attorneys can help you appeal a denied claim if you’re eligible for benefits.

One of our senior partners, Eileen Kroll, is a registered nurse with previous experience in the medical field, providing a wealth of medical and legal insight to support your claim. Social security law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is simple. Contact our legal team at 1-866-MICH-LAW to arrange a free consultation and learn how we can help you through the process.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Alan is a writer and engineer who works predominantly in the medical sciences field. As a sports fan, Alan spends his downtime playing or watching basketball, tennis, and soccer.



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