Social Security Disability FAQs

Have questions regarding your SSD or SSI case? We've put together a list of frequently asked questions concerning Social Security disability benefits. 

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What Social Security Programs Are Available?

There are currently five different types of disability benefit programs available through the Social Security Administration:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) is a federal program in which workers work and pay Social Security taxes on their wages to be eligible for benefits. Payments are made in accordance with the worker's earnings history and are given to disabled employees and their dependents under 18. Individuals who worked and paid taxes for five out of ten years before becoming disabled are typically eligible for SSD payments. 

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a public assistance program available to disabled individuals, whether or not a work history exists. SSI has strict income and resource requirements that can reduce or eliminate an individual's eligibility. Unlike Social Security Disability benefits, SSI benefits are not based on your prior work or a family member's prior work.

Disabled Widow's or Widower's Benefits (DWB) are available to those between 50 and 60 years old who have become disabled within a certain period following the death of a spouse or ex-spouse to whom they had been married at least ten years. Payments are based on the earnings record of the deceased spouse.

Disabled Adult Child's Benefits (also known as Childhood Disability Benefits or CDB) is available to unmarried individuals who became disabled before age 22, and who have at least one parent who is receiving SSD; who is receiving Social Security Retirement (SSR) benefits; or who is deceased and had been eligible to receive SSD or SSR benefits. Payments are based on the earnings record of the parent. A person may be well past the age of 22 when they apply for benefits. They only need to prove their disability met Social Security’s requirements before that time.

Children's Supplemental Security Income is for children under 18 who are disabled. As mentioned above, SSI is a public assistance program, and specific financial eligibility criteria apply.

What Are My Chances of Getting SSD Benefits?

There are few guarantees in life. No one can promise an outcome in a Social Security case. Some factors help your chances significantly. It helps to:

  • Be at least 50 years old as of the date you became disabled;
  • Have strong evidence of your physical and mental health conditions and limitations;
  • Have a strong work history or well-documented attempts to work despite your conditions and restrictions.

While these factors do help, we understand they might not be present in many cases. We win all types of cases, including those for younger clients who've never been able to work and have had limited access to health care.

How Does the Social Security Administration Evaluate Disabilities?

When you apply for Social Security disability benefits, the SSA uses the information in your application to obtain evidence from your physicians, as well as former employers, acquaintances, and family members. The SSA then uses a five-step procedure for assessing whether a claimant is disabled. As part of the procedure, the Social Security Administration asks the following questions:

  • Are you performing substantial gainful activity? 
  • Is your impairment severe? 
  • Does your impairment meet or equal the Social Security Listing of Impairments?
  • Is it possible for you to return to your prior work?
  • Are you able to do other work?
Why Does Social Security Consider My Age in Determining My Eligibility?

In general, benefits are often easier to get for workers over the age of 50. The Social Security Act has various standards for different ages to meet the additional challenges that older employees experience when applying for new roles. The Social Security Act and regulations view younger workers as having an easier transition to a new field of employment than older workers. We serve clients of all ages, and no one should believe that they will not be eligible for disability benefits because of their age.

I Have A Child That Is Disabled. Can They Get Social Security Benefits?

Children's Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is for children under 18 who are disabled. SSI is a public assistance program, and there are strict income and resource requirements that can reduce or eliminate an individual's eligibility.

Disabled Adult Child's Benefits (often referred to as CDB or Childhood Disability Benefits) are available to unmarried individuals who became disabled before age 22, and who have at least one parent who is receiving SSD; who is receiving Social Security Retirement (SSR) benefits; or who is deceased and had been eligible to receive SSD or SSR benefits. Payments are based on the earnings record of the parent.

I Am A Widow and Haven't Worked For Years. Can I Get Social Security Benefits?

Individuals between the ages of 50 and 60 who became disabled within a specific amount of time after the death of a spouse or ex-spouse to whom they had been married for at least 10 years are eligible for Disabled Widow's or Widower's Benefits (DWB). Payments are dependent on the deceased spouse's earnings history.

Can I Work While the SSA is Considering My Case?

You can work if your health enables it and does not deteriorate your health. We are not able to advise individuals on their ability to work. That is a conversation for you and your doctor.

Social Security sets an amount every year that they designate to be substantially gainful activity (SGA). If individuals earn higher than that amount (gross) for a prolonged period of time it can impact their eligibility for benefits. Generally speaking, if a person is able to hold a job for more than 6 months above SGA they will no longer qualify for benefits. There are some exceptions to this, like if a job is subsidized by the employer.

Please call us if you have questions about how working can impact a person’s eligibility for disability benefits. We are big-time believers in the idea that people who can work, should. We don’t want our clients to stop working just to “prove their disability case.” However, we do want them to understand the rules that govern work activity.

You should be aware that any job-like activity you engage in, whether for compensation or as a volunteer, may have an impact on how the SSA assesses your ability to work and, as a result, whether you fulfill their disability requirements. If the Social Security Administration declares you disabled, you must show that you have been or will be unable to work  a full time job for at least one year owing to one or more physical or mental health conditions. In making this judgment, the SSA considers how successfully you conduct activities of daily living, such as home duties, shopping, and so on.

If Someone Who Has the Same Conditions I Do Gets Approved Right Away, Will I Also Be Approved?

There are no two Social Security cases that are alike. An application for Social Security disability payments is evaluated based on your medical conditions, age, educational background, and previous job experience. Furthermore, two persons who have the same medical illness might have drastically different symptoms and restrictions. Although no lawyer can promise a positive outcome, we can assist you in understanding the disability review process and helping you in winning your case.

I've Applied Before and Was Denied. Will SSA Consider That Application?

Social Security takes a look at prior determinations to see whether similar time periods or conditions are at issue. In some cases, it will be important to show a worsening of your condition or provide new and material evidence regarding an earlier time period to overcome any previously negative findings.

In every case we try our best to preserve your protected filing date so that we can get you benefits back as far as possible. While it is possible to “reopen” old applications, it is generally much better to keep them going by appealing unfavorable determinations and decisions.

Reapplying over and over again to get new determinations at the initial State levels rarely leads to a better result. It often takes going in front of an Administrative Law Judge for the issues to be fully developed.

If I Get Approved, How Far Back Will My Benefits Go?

The amount of time your benefits will go back depends on the type of claim you submitted, when you filed it, and when your disability began. If you apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), your benefits will start the first day of the month after your application. Applicants may be eligible for benefits for up to one year before the day they applied for Social Security Impairment (SSD) or Disabled Widow's/Benefits Widower's (DWB), but only after five complete months have passed since the disability began. You may be eligible for payments for up to six months before filing for Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB). Initial applications may be reopened in some instances, resulting in an award of back pay over the restrictions stated above.

How Much Can I Expect to Receive if I Am Awarded Benefits?

SSD, DWB, and CDB benefits are calculated monthly depending on the worker's wage history. They are calculated using a complex method that considers the worker's lifetime wages, the date the claimant became disabled, and the date the claimant last worked. Because SSI is a public assistance program, any assets or earnings may lower your monthly payment. (This applies to whatever SSD, DWB, or CDB is awarded.)

Why Was My Social Security Denied?

The majority of disability applicants are denied in the first round. If your claim is denied, you must file an appeal by the deadline, or you will have to start the application process over. Applicants have sixty (60) days to appeal a denial in most cases. You may be able to argue that you have a valid reason for missing a deadline in specific circumstances. In rare circumstances, the Social Security Administration will review a previously refused application that was not appealed.

 

We Make A Difference When You Need It Most.

There are many steps along the road to obtaining disability benefits. We know every detail about the claims process.

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