Q. Best way to initiate SSD claim?
A. There are three ways to file a claim: on-line, appointment at local office, or with the assistance of an attorney. The on-line application process is very difficult and confusing according to many past clients. The local office approach is very impersonal, usually handled by phone. By using an attorney, you have someone experienced in this area, someone who knows what content is appropriate and useful. Claimants have a tendency to put too much versus too little information in their application papers. Also, attorneys will be more diligent than the SSA in obtaining medical documentation to support application.
Q. Do assets affect SSD claim?
A. Assets do not affect eligibility for SSD benefits – owning real estate, motor vehicles, having savings, etc. have no bearing on receiving these benefits. Assets may affect eligibility for SSI, which is a need-based benefit. Although proving an SSI claim medically is the same as SSD, assets will be reviewed, similar to public assistance standards, for SSI.
Q. How long after not being able to work do I have to wait in order to file for SSD/SSI benefits?
A. A claim should be filed as soon as possible once it is determined that the individual has a medical condition or combination of conditions that will keep him or her out of work for at least 12 months. An individual is entitled to benefits following a 5 month waiting period for SSD benefits and can only get benefits up to 1 year back from the date of application, so it’s ideal to file as soon as he or she stops working. With SSI, one can only receive benefits from the date of application forward.
Q. If on WC benefits, does one have to wait until WC runs out to file claim for SSD?
A. A great number of claimants who apply for SSD are collecting WC benefits. It is not necessary to wait to file for SSD if on WC, but one has to carefully examine whether SSD benefits will be “offset” by the receipt of WC benefits. An offset can be a reduction or elimination of the monthly SSD benefit based upon the past earnings of the individual. This is income specific, so it’s best to have an experienced SSD attorney review the numbers to determine eligibility.
Q. Do I need to be permanently disabled?
A. To qualify for SSD/SSI benefits, you must have a condition that disables you from all work for at least a 12-month period of time. If an individual makes medical improvement beyond the 12-month period, the benefits may cease.