Social Security Disability FAQs

Social Security Disability is one of those benefits you hope is available to you or your loved one when needed, if you should ever need it. Yet many people find the process of applying and qualifying for SSDI to be so frustrating and confusing, they simply give up.

John R. Colvin has helped people for over 20 years in the Tennessee Valley apply for Social Security disability and successfully navigate the appeals process for people whose claims were denied. If you need help with a Social Security disability claim, call our offices today to find out what we can do for you: (931) 962-1044.

Common Questions

Many people have questions about the disability claims process with the Social Security Administration, and it can be difficult to find answers that are easy to understand. Following are some of the questions we hear most often from clients:

What’s the difference between SSDI and SSI?

SSI is Supplemental Security Income, also known as Title XVI and is a benefit available to people who meet certain resource rules and are below a certain household income threshold. In addition to meeting the resource and income rules, one must also establish that they have a disability, are blind, or are minor children who have been disabled since birth. This benefit is available to people who have never worked.  In contrast, SSDI/Title II Disability is a benefit available only to people who have worked and have earned a certain amount of credits over their working career and are found to have insured status under the regulations. Once a worker is found to be insured for SSDI/Title II Disability, the deceased worker’s widow or widower, or dependants may also be entitled to SSDI, even if they’ve never worked, providing they have a qualifying disability.

Can I collect SSDI and SSI at the same time?

In some cases a concurrent claim for disability benefits can be pursued and once a disability within the meaning of the law is established, one can draw if eligible under both Title II (SSDI) and Title XVI (SSI) programs. Often times both programs complement each other in a concurrent claim because SSDI has a five-month waiting period from the date one is found disabled before entitlement begins, during which time someone who is disabled may need financial assistance, while on the other hand SSI can be awarded back to the date of the applicant’s initial application, with the monthly SSI payment being reduced when SSDI benefits become active.

How does the Social Security administration define disability?

A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that prevents a person from “substantial gainful activity” and is expected to last at least 12 continuous months or result in death.

What types of conditions are considered disabilities?

A wide range of illnesses and impairments fall within accepted disabilities, for the purpose of disability benefits, and guidelines for determination may vary if the applicant is a minor. (For example, in infants, low birth weight and some associated conditions could qualify a child for disability benefits under the applicable program.) The list of included conditions – such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, certain mental disorders, and cognitive disabilities – can be found on the SSA website.

If my claim for SSDI benefits is approved, do I need to do anything else?

The Social Security office may periodically review your claim to make sure you’re still eligible to receive benefits. Often times a claim is flagged for what is called a continuing disability review where the Administration will review certain claims to determine whether there has been an improvement in the once disabling condition. If your medical records indicate that you are likely to recover from your disability, you may be asked to provide additional medical documentation that establishes the fact that your condition remains disabling. This can occur as soon as one year after the initial award of disability benefits. Generally, the more serious and long-lasting a disability, the less often the Social Security office will review a particular claim.

What can I do if my initial claim is denied?

If your initial claim is denied – as is often the case – you have the right to pursue the appeals process. Sometimes, claims are denied because Social Security claims reviewers with the Administration found that the available medical evidence was insufficient to support a claim of serious and long-lasting disability. When that’s the case, an attorney can help you determine what additional information or documentation from your treating medical providers might help you successfully pursue a claim for disability benefits.

How can a disabled individual pay for an attorney to help with a disability claim?

Understandably people seeking Social Security benefits may lack the funds to cover legal expenses much less have the ability to retain an attorney out of pocket, and that’s why we work on a contingency basis pursuant to the fee agreement process that has been approved by Congress that allows disabled individuals and their families to retain an attorney to pursue an administrative appeal on their behalf. Under the Congressional Fee Agreement process, an attorney is compensated based upon a percentage of the accrued back benefits recovered. Back pay is recovered when an attorney is able to win an appeal on your behalf and the Social Security Administration must pay disability benefits from the date you were entitled to receive benefits under the applicable regulations.   In certain cases, a civil action must be filed once all administrative appeals are exhausted and the claim is then pursued in the United States District Court where the attorney fees are determined in accordance with a fee petition that is filed with the Court and the approved attorney fee is often times paid out of the benefits recovered.

If you need help with your disability claim or appeal, we’re here to help. Contact us via our online form, or call us today for a consultation at (931) 962-1044.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama