Social Security Disability Q&A
Your SSD Questions Answered
If you are interested in applying for benefits under the Social Security
Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, it is important to understand what
is involved and whether you may be eligible for benefits in the first
place. To help guide you through the process, our
Las Vegas Social Security disability attorneys have compiled several frequently asked questions and answers regarding
this important subject. In addition to reviewing these, you are always
welcome to call our offices for a confidential and free evaluation of
What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), often referred to as Social
Security disability or SSD, is an income tax-funded program that pays
benefits to workers and certain members of their families if they become
disabled and are no longer able to work. You must meet work and disability
requirements to qualify for SSD benefits.
How do I
apply for Social Security disability benefits?
You can apply online for disability benefits using the Social Security
Administration (SSA) website:
www.ssa.gov/disability/. The SSA website contains helpful information regarding what you need
to apply online, which may take one to two hours, according to the site.
You can also use the SSA website to check on the status of a claim. In
addition to applying online, you may be able to fill out and file an application
by mail or can call the SSA for help. Applying can be an arduous process,
and it is important to be sure that you include all applicable information
as accurately as you can. Missing documents and false information can
result in a delay or denial of your claim.
What work requirements must I meet to qualify?
To qualify for SSD, you must have worked long enough and recently enough
to be considered "insured" under the program. You qualify by
earning work credits in the years you are gainfully employed. In 2014,
for example, a worker earns 1 credit for each $1,200 in wages earned,
to a maximum of 4 credits in a year. The amount of work credits you need
will vary depending on your age and when you became disabled, though the
general amount is 40 credits, with 20 earned in the last 10 years. Younger
workers, for example, may be eligible for SSD benefits with fewer work credits.
How do I know if my medical condition is considered a qualifying disability?
The SSA uses a specific process to determine whether a worker has a
qualifying disability. It is important to remember that Social Security disability benefits
are only available for total disabilities that are expected to last at
least one year or result in death. Your condition may qualify if you cannot
do the work you did before and you cannot perform other work or be gainfully
employed. The SSA also maintains a list of impairments that are so severe
that a worker is automatically considered disabled.
What happens if my initial SSD application is denied?
If you file a claim for SSD benefits and it is
denied, you can file a request for reconsideration. This is the first step in
the appeals process and involves a new and complete review of your claim
by someone other than the person who made the first decision. You can
include additional information in your request for reconsideration, to
aid the SSA representative in making a decision.
What can I do if my request for reconsideration was denied?
If you file a request for reconsideration and your claim is denied again,
you can request a hearing. This hearing is conducted by an administrative
law judge who works for the SSA. Most hearings are conducted in person,
though they may take place over video if needed. You and your attorney,
if you have one, can present your case to the judge, who will make a decision
on the matter.
What other options are available to me in
appealing a denied SSD claim?
If your SSD hearing had a negative result, you have other options. You
can request an assessment by the SSA Appeals Council, which will consider
your case and whether the decision reached by the administrative law judge
was accurate or made in error. The Appeals Council may uphold or change
this decision. If, upon requesting an evaluation by the Appeals Council,
you disagree with their decision, you may file a lawsuit in federal district
court. This is the last line of appeal available to a SSD applicant.
Do I need an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney to represent you in filing a SSD
claim, request for consideration, hearing or Appeals Council review. It
is important to remember, however, that these proceedings can be quite
complex, particularly when you are appealing a denied claim. An attorney
who is experienced in the Social Security disability claims and appeals
processes will be able to know what must be done to protect your rights
and seek the benefits you need. Your chances of a positive result are
often far better with legal counsel.
Ask a Las Vegas Social Security Disability Lawyer
Ready to find out what can be done to properly handle your SSD claim? Now
is the time to schedule a free case review with a Las Vegas Social Security
disability lawyer at our firm. We can help you determine how to address
a delayed or denied claim and can help you file your initial application
to seek the benefits you need. Call today to get started.