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Social Security Disability FAQ
  1. What is social security disability?
    Social security disability consists of several programs under the Federal Social Security Act. Disability insurance benefits (DIB or Title II) is a program designed to pay workers and their families benefits if found disabled. Supplemental security income (SSI or Title XVI) is a program designed to pay disabled people who have never worked or do not have enough quarters of coverage to be entitled to DIB benefits. Children who are disabled may also be entitled to SSI benefits.

  2. What is the definition of a disability?
    You are disabled for social security disability benefits if you cannot engage in any substantial, gainful activity for a continuous period of one year. Substantial means work activity involving significant physical or mental activities. Gainful means work activity that one engages in for pay or profit or is the type of activity that is usually engaged in for pay or profit.

  3. Is there a waiting period for disability benefits under the Social Security Act?
    For DIB (Title II benefits) – there is a five month waiting period. SSI (Title XVI) benefits – there is no waiting period.

  4. How do I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?
    You can contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213, you can make an appointment at a local social security office or you can contact our office and we will file the application on your behalf.

  5. What other qualifications are there for being considered disabled under the Social Security Act?
    There are many regulations under the Social Security Act which apply to different disability benefits such as DIB, SSI, childs benefits, etc.
    For DIB benefits, one must be insured under the Social Security Act meaning that the worker has contributed money to the social security system in a recent enough period in order to qualify for DIB benefits. In addition, family members may be entitled to benefits on the worker’s record.
    To be eligible for SSI benefits a disabled person must have a limited resources and income to be qualified.

  6. Do I have the right to appeal the Social Security Administration’s denial of my application for benefits?
    Yes. The disabled worker or person filing the application for social security disability benefits under any of the programs has a right to appeal the denial of their application. A reconsideration claim of the denial must be filed within 60 days of the receipt of the original denial. If the claim for reconsideration is denied, you have the right to file a claim for a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge. If the Administrative Law Judge denies the claim at a hearing, the individual has the right to appeal to the Appeals Counsel in Virginia. If denied there, you have the right to file an appeal in the Federal Court system.

  7. Once I am on disability, can I go back to work?
    You can go back to work and continue to receive social security benefits if in fact the work you do does not result in income which is considered to be substantial gainful activity. The Social Security Administration determines work to be substantial gainful activity if it is over a certain amount each year. The current substantial gainful activity rate is $810.00 per month.
    In addition, you can go back to work once on disability and request a trial work period which will allow you to work making any amount of money for a period of nine months which does not have to be consecutive in order to allow you to transition back into the workforce. The granting of a trial work period is solely discretionary with the Social Security Administration.

  8. Can I receive benefits under both the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Social Security Disability programs?
    Yes, however, with regard to DIB or Title II benefits, you will be given an offset on the Social Security benefits based on the amount of Workers’ Compensation benefits you are receiving. Whether or not an offset applies totally depends on what your average monthly wage is for social security purposes.
    With regard to SSI or Title XVI benefits, if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, the rate may or may not be high enough to disqualify you from getting SSI benefits.

  9. Should I hire a lawyer to pursue my claim for disability benefits under the Social Security Act?
    Due to the technicalities involved, the regulations that apply, and the timelines and deadlines one is obligated to abide by, it is suggested that a lawyer who concentrates in handling social security disability cases assist you, though you are not legally obligated to have a lawyer to pursue a claim under the Social Security Act. Please contact us for your free consultation.

  10. Is my attorney entitled to an attorney’s fee and if so, how is that determined?
    In all disability claims handled by this office, attorney’s fees are paid only if you are successful in receiving social security disability benefits. With regard, to a DIB or Title II claim 25% of your back due benefits are withheld by the Social Security Administration for payment of your attorney’s fees.
    In SSI or Title XVI cases the same 25% of back due benefits applies as an attorney’s fee but that is paid directly by the claimant to the attorney.

  11. When should I file an application for disability benefits?
    As a general rule in all types of disability claims, you should file an application as soon as the disability extends five months. In DIB or Title II claims, there is a five month waiting period meaning that you cannot obtain disability benefits until the sixth month of your disability. The sooner you start the application process, the sooner you will receive a decision concerning your claim (because there are many delays built into the appeals process). The application for DIB benefits is retroactive to twelve months before the application date so you can actually file an application seventeen months after your disability begins and still not lose any benefits under the law because of the twelve month retroactivity and five month waiting period.
    With regard to SSI or Title XVI benefits, there is no waiting period, however, you still must be disabled for a continuous one year period so it is highly suggested that an application be made after six months of disability.

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  • East Providence Office
    989 Waterman Avenue
    East Providence, Rhode Island 02914
    Phone: 401-437-3000
    Fax: 401-437-3037