The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) process is a long, technical and often frustrating process – a process in which the majority of people are denied benefits the first time. Many people give up at this point, or don’t know that they can still qualify for SSD/SSI benefits, because the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t tell them otherwise.
The government, more specifically, the Social Security Administration (SSA), denies at least half of social security disability applicants the first time. The SSD/SSI process is a complicated web of steps, paperwork, appeals, and waiting, where any wrong detail or improperly filed document can derail the entire process. That is why having an attorney like Scott Dunn, with years of experience in SSD/SSI law, is necessary to navigate the social security disability process and fight against the SSA on your behalf.
What is the Difference Between SSD and SSI?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are both federal programs that give financial assistance to people that the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers medically disabled with its 5-step process. While both commonly used together or in the same sentence, SSD and SSI are actually two completely different programs.
SSD (or SSDI) is an entitlement program that requires a person to work in a position that “pays into” Social Security long enough or with enough money to be considered eligible. Usually that time period is at least ten years. You may notice, when looking at a pay stub, a sum of money you have paid that is called “Social Security” taxes. Candidates for SSD must usually be under 65 years of age. SSD can also pay benefits to your spouse, dependents, younger beneficiaries, and disabled adult children. There is also a five-month waiting period for SSD benefits, and you become entitled to Medicare after two years of qualifying for SSD.
SSI is a financial needs-based program that has nothing to do with your work history; in fact, where it helps your case with SSD to have made more money paying taxes into SSD, you are probably more likely to receive SSI if you have made much less money. There is a limit of resources or assets of $2,000 per individual, and $3,000 per couple. Instead of getting Medicare, a person who qualifies for SSI usually immediately receives Medicaid benefits.
Because those qualifying for SSD have “paid into” the program, and are essentially just paying themselves back, they are entitled to higher benefits. Although it may take some time to finally win your case for SSD, there is no waiting period, unlike with SSI.
Am I Considered Medically Disabled by the SSA?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a 5-step "Disability Determination" process in considering if you are “medically disabled”, which involves both medical, financial, and work considerations.
Step 1: Are you able to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA)?
Substantial gainful activity (SGA) is SSA jargon for “you must be making under a certain amount of money”, or you must be making under a certain limit where you can’t take care of yourself financially without SSD/SSI. In 2016, that figure is $1,820 for blind individuals, and $1,130 for non-blind individuals. There are certain circumstances where you can make more than the SGA amount and still be able to receive social security; Scott Dunn can work with you and go over your special circumstances, such as medical expenses, transportation costs, medical equipment and prescriptions, etc., to see if you can receive social security while still clearing a certain monthly income.
Step 2: Are you physically impaired enough to be unable to work?
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Your impairment must not be temporary: it must last for at least a year, or be a terminal condition.
Step 3: Is your disability listed in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments?
If your disability is listed in the SSA’s criteria, you are automatically considered disabled. These criteria are very specific and narrow in scope, so most people actually do not meet these criteria, and many who attempt to navigate the process without an attorney are denied benefits at this point. However, Scott Dunn will examine your case, and if your condition truly limits you from work, he can work with your doctors to prove your disability.
Step 4: Can you perform your past job or work?
Given your disability, the SSA will see what job(s) you have performed for the past 10-15 years, and consider whether they think you are able to perform your career, job, or skill set even with your disability. If the SSA believes your disability does not prevent you from your past job(s), then you will not be considered medically disabled. If your disability prevents you from performing your usual job(s), then they will see if you can perform any other work (see step 5).
Step 5: “Can severely impaired applicants do other work in the national economy?”
These considerations vary depending on your “residual functional capacity (RFC)”, along with “vocational factors”, including your age, education, and work experience. This determination is made on the SSA’s “medical-vocational guidelines” and “medical vocational profiles”. This part can get confusing, and is something Scott Dunn can help you with, as he has gone over it himself hundreds of times.
Tired of fighting the SSA for the benefits you can't live without? Let social security disability lawyer Scott Dunn do all the work for you. He has handled hundreds of SSD/SSI cases, and knows exactly how to fight your best possible case.
Contact us today to get started on getting your life back.