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Social Security Disability FAQs

What is Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability (SSD) is a program directed by the Federal Government that protects American workers who become disabled and can no longer work.  The system is funded by payroll deductions (FICA) from all workers.  Only individuals who have a medical disability and meet other specific criteria may qualify for SSD.  To qualify you must have worked long enough to have contributed to the system, and recently enough to qualify to receive benefits.

Social Security Disability (SSD) v. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits come from the same fund that is used for retirement benefits, and to qualify you must have worked and reported earnings for at least 20 quarters in the 10 years immediately preceding your application.  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is for disabled individuals who do not qualify for SSD because they do not meet the earnings requirements.

What kinds of illness, injury or disease qualifies for Social Security Disability?

You may be eligible for SSD if you meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability, which 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 of not less than 12 months.”

If I am disabled, when should I apply for SSD?

Immediately.  The processing of getting disability benefits can take a long time so it is important to start at once.

What if I become able to return to work after collecting Social Security Disability Benefits?

Social Security encourages disabled persons to reenter the workforce and gives incentives to disabled persons who trying to transition back to work. Benefits could continue for up to a year after an individual returns to work. And if you leave your job within three years, you can restart your benefits without having to  re-file your claim.

Who decides if I am disabled?

After you file a Social Security Disability claim, the case is sent to a disability examiner who makes the initial decision on the claim.  If the claim is denied you can request reconsideration. The case is then sent to another disability examiner, where it goes through a similar process.  If your claim is denied again you may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

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