Social Security Disability Benefits

When should you apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

Apply for disability benefits as soon as you are disabled and unable to work, even if you are receiving workers’ compensation or other non-wage compensation. Social Security pays disability benefits to adults who can’t work because they have a medical condition that has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

The application and appeals process can be complex and difficult. We know how the system works and we can guide you through the process.  Contact us for a free consultation. 



The Two Social Security Disability Programs:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to you as a disabled worker and to certain members of your family.

To be insured for SSDI: You must be at least age 18, and you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes to be insured for SSDI.

You generally need 20 work credits earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled to be insured, but younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

Disabled Widow or Widower under SSDI: If a person is filing for disabled widow or widower’s benefits, he or she must be at least 50 years old to be eligible for those benefits under SSDI.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI)               pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.

To qualify for SSI: You must meet certain citizenship and residency requirements, and you must have limited income and resources.

Resources are things you own with some exclusions, such as the home you own and one vehicle.Countable resource limits are $2,000 for an Individual or child and $3,000 for a couple.

Income includes earnings from work and money from other sources.



Child SSI: A child may be eligible for SSI benefits as early as the date of birth if he or she has a disabling physical or mental condition that results in marked and severe functional limitations that has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

Income and resources of the child’s family or guardians are taken into consideration when SSA determines the child’s eligibility for SSI.

A disabled child who receives SSI disability payments may also be eligible for other state services.

Q: Do I qualify for both SSDI and SSI?

A: Many people receive both SSDI and SSI disability benefits. You would have to have
worked long enough to be insured for SSDI and your income and resources must be at a level to qualify for SSI.The best way to find out if you will qualify for Social Security benefits is to speak with an experienced disabilility representative about the specifics of your condition and case.

Q: I am a military service member who has a disability. Can I apply for Social Security Disability?

A: Yes. Military service members can apply for Social Security disability. An active duty military member who continues to receive pay while in a hospital or while on medical leave should consider applying for disability benefits if he or she has been unable to work due to a disabling condition. Social Security disability rules are different from those at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Both programs require a separate application..

What can I expect after I file for Disability?

Social Security disability claims are initially processed through local field offices and State Agencies, usually called Disability Determination Services.  A Disability Claims Examiner at the State Agency reviews your medical records and other evidence to make a disability determination.

It is important to provide detailed information about your physical and mental conditions, including functional limitations, with medical and other evidence as part of your disability application.

Evidence includes:

  • Medical records from your doctors and other sources
  • Doctor’s opinions
  • Laboratory and other clinical test results
  • Medications or other prescribed treatments
  • Activities of daily living
  • Education
  • Employment history and job duties

Applying for disability can be complicated, so let us help you right from the start. We can make sure your disability application is complete and present the evidence necessary to prove your disability claim.


Disability Evaluation:

Most Social Security disability claims are initially processed through local Social Security Administration field offices and State agencies (usually called Disability Determination Services). A Disability Claims Examiner at the State agency reviews your medical records and other evidence to make an initial disability determination.

It is important to provide any additional medical or other evidence of your medical conditions and limitations. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help you navigate the system and manage the process. Your disability lawyer will obtain the evidence and present it in the most effective way at the hearing with an Administrative Law Judge.

At all levels of the administrative process, the Social Security Administration adjudicator applies a five-steps disability evaluation:

  1. Are you working?
  2. Is your medical condition “severe”?
  3. Does your impairment(s) meet or medically equal a listing?
  4. Can you do the work you did before?
  5. Can you do any other type of work?

How long until get an initial determination on my disability case?

On average, it takes three to five months for an initial determination. At the appellate level, the average processing time is 386 days, calculated from the date of a request for hearing before Administrative Law Judge to the date of disposition. However, there is an expedited process for veterans who have a 100% VA disability rating.

What percentage of Social Security disability benefit applications are allowed?

About 33% of disability claims are allowed at initial determination. At the hearing level, about 52% are allowed disability benefits. If your application is denied, you can appeal.

Contact Cardea Law Group, LLC at 334-440-6261 to Schedule a Free Consultation