Frequently Asked Questions

SSI benefits are not taxable. SSDI benefits might be taxable depending on your total income.

Yes, if you are approved for SSDI benefits you will automatically become eligible for Medicare coverage two years after the first month you are found disabled. However, this does not mean if you are approved for SSDI you must wait two years to get your Medicare coverage. The two-year Medicare waiting period is generally calculated from the date SSA found you became disabled plus the five-month SSDI waiting period.

Absolutely! Our firm is here to help you with any matters regarding Social Security disability benefits. All you have to do is call (205) 263-9636, or fill out our free evaluation form to get started. Our firm will advise if we think you qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. If you choose ELG Disability to assist you in your claim for Social Security disability benefits, we are dedicated to making sure your application is fully developed prior to submitting the application for you. If you are not approved during the initial application filing, you don’t owe us anything. You only pay us if you are approved, or we win your disability claim on appeal.

Yes, you can receive both workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits. However, the payments you receive for SSDI benefits will be reduced if you are receiving workers’ compensation simultaneously. The Social Security Administration will reduce your SSDI check so that the combined amount of the SSDI benefits you receive does not exceed 80% of your average current earnings. If your workers’ compensation checks stop, your SSDI benefits will typically increase. If you have a representative assisting you in your claim for SSDI benefits, it is always important to make sure your representative is aware of any workers’ compensation claims that you may have pending.

If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, you probably won’t be eligible to receive SSI benefits. However, give our office a call so we can help you evaluate if you may be eligible for SSI payments with your workers’ compensation benefits.

Yes. Many individuals are eligible for benefits under both SSDI and SSI programs at the same time. These types of claims are called “concurrent” claims.

Non-citizens can qualify for SSDI if they’ve earned enough work credits. For SSI, there are specific requirements, but certain non-citizens such as those who are lawfully residing in the U.S. and meet certain conditions might qualify.

When you file for unemployment benefits you are stating that you can work but that you are unable to locate employment. When filing for Social Security disability benefits, you are stating that you are not capable of working due to your severe medical impairments. It is easy to see how these two statements contradict each other. When applying for both Social Security disability benefits and unemployment benefits, there is a chance you could be punished for unemployment fraud. Likewise, if Social Security learns that you either applied for or drew unemployment benefits, they may hold it against you in deciding your disability claim. Therefore, you must decide whether you intend to pursue either unemployment benefits or Social Security disability benefits. We strongly caution you from pursuing both.

Yes, but there are limits to how much you can earn. The Social Security Administration has provisions like “trial work periods” where beneficiaries can test their ability to work for at least nine months.

When determining if you should file for Social Security Disability benefits you want to make sure that you understand how complicated it can be and that the government wants to ensure people receive benefits who are truly deserving of them. Once you have determined that you need to file for disability benefits, you will need to contact the Social Security Administration to begin filing your initial application. You can do this by either hiring an attorney representative who specializes in Social Security Disability law, contacting your local Social Security Office directly, or visiting their website and applying online.

Having a representative like ELG Disability to help guide you through this process will help you fully understand the complexities of the Social Security Disability process. A disability attorney has experience with the rules and regulations, can help obtain medical records and/or additional information to support your claim, and can assist in filing any appeals, if need.

Any changes, such as an improvement in your medical condition, starting work, or changes in income, should be reported to the Social Security Administration immediately. You can do this by contacting your local Social Security office or using the Social Security Administration’s online services.

Work credits are based on your annual wages or self-employment income. The amount for a credit changes each year. In 2023, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,640 in wages or self-employment income, up to a maximum of four credits per year.

Typically, it takes around 4-6 months to receive a decision from the Social Security Administration regarding your initial application for Social Security Disability benefits. Sometimes it can take longer than 4-6 months. This timeframe depends on the processing times of your local Social Security office and is also dependent on how long it takes you to respond to their correspondence and/or how long it takes for your medical providers to send your medical records to Social Security.

The number of work credits needed depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you became disabled. However, younger workers might qualify with fewer credits.

SSDI benefits are usually paid monthly. SSI benefits are also typically paid monthly, but the exact date can vary based on factors like when you were born or when you applied for benefits.

The Social Security Administration periodically reviews cases to ensure beneficiaries still qualify as “disabled”. The frequency of reviews depends on the nature and severity of your condition. These reviews are known as Continued Disability Review (CDR).

If you have a child under the age of 18 or age 19 while still in high school, they may be able to draw a benefit check off your disability benefits at the time you are awarded. These are called auxiliary benefits and should be processed by Social Security at the time of processing your first disability benefit check. It is always best to make sure you contact your representative and/or Social Security if you receive benefits but your child does not. 

In most states, if you qualify for SSI, you also qualify for Medicaid. However, some states use their own criteria.

Yes, there's a five-month waiting period from the onset of your disability before you can start receiving SSDI benefits.

If you receive a denial regarding your claim for Social Security disability benefits, you can file an appeal. There are several different levels of determination for Social Security disability benefits. You must file an appeal within 60 days of the denial to transition to the next level of determination. If you fail to file a timely appeal, you may have to reapply for Social Security disability benefits. Failure to file a timely appeal could result in a loss of your rights to Social Security disability benefits.

An experienced attorneys office like ELG Disability can assist in filing your appeal. If you have received a denial for Social Security disability benefits, give our office a call today!

There are no guarantees that you will get disability benefits, but if you have a disabling condition, working with an experienced Social Security disability attorney can significantly improve your chances of obtaining your disability benefits. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that people who have a representative assisting them in their disability claim were granted disability benefits at a rate of 3 times higher than individuals who did not have a representative assisting them.

An experienced Social Security disability attorney understands the law to help protect your rights and knows how to adequately argue for the benefits you seek. An experienced Social Security disability attorney can also help to make sure that you adhere to deadlines, communicate directly with a DDS Examiner or the Social Security office by working with them to ensure that your file is completely up to date, assist in gathering documentation to help support your disability claim, and can attend any hearings with an Administrative Law Judge.

If you disagree with a decision made on your claim, you can request a review. There are several appeal levels, including reconsideration, hearing by an Administrative Law Judge, and review by the Appeals Council, and Federal Court review.

If you have received a decision that you do not agree with, it may be best to speak with a Social Security disability representative like an attorney. Give our office a call today to discuss your options for appeal. Statistics show having a representative assisting you in your claim, increases your chances of approval.

If you’re receiving SSDI, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits when you reach full retirement age, but the amount remains the same.

This is an initiative to expedite the processing of SSDI and SSI claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that they clearly meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. There’s a list of conditions that qualify.

The medical requirements are generally the same for both programs: you must meet the Social Security Administration's definition of disability. The key difference is non-medical; SSDI has work credit requirements, while SSI is based on financial need.

In 2023, the maximum SSDI payment is $3,627 per month with the average monthly payment being $1,483. The maximum SSI payment in 2023 is $914 for single individuals and for married couples it is $1,371. Although, some people may receive less depending on their and/or their spouse’s income and resources.

If you are filing solely for SSDI, programs like VA Disability Compensation, 401k, stocks, pensions, etc. will not affect your eligibility for SSDI benefits. This is because these earnings are considered “unearned income”. Meaning, you are not physically working to receive this income. If your income is generated through work that is performed, this will influence your eligibility for SSDI benefits due to this being “earned income”.

If you are filing a Concurrent (SSDI & SSI) claim or SSI only claim, then programs like VA Disability Compensation, 401K, stocks, pensions, etc. will affect your eligibility for SSI benefits. Remember, SSI is a federal benefit program that provides financial support to disabled individuals who have limited income and resources. Due to this, Social Security has strict limitations on the amount of income and resources an SSI recipient can receive. Depending on the amount of your income/resources is whether or not you may qualify for SSI benefits.

To understand more about the different types of income and resources that may affect your eligibility for SSDI and/or SSI benefits, give our office a call today!

Yes, children under the age of 18 can qualify for SSI if they have a physical or mental condition (or combination of conditions) that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability for children, and if their income and resources fall within the eligibility limits.

In most states, children who get SSI benefits qualify for Medicaid.

The child must have a physical or mental condition (or combination) that very seriously limits their activities and is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

The Social Security Administration looks at the income and resources of family members living in the child’s household to determine eligibility.

The amount varies based on several factors, including state supplements, but there’s a federal base rate updated yearly.

Child SSI benefits provide financial assistance to children under 18 who have disabilities and whose families have limited resources and income.

As soon as you believe your child may be eligible. If approved, benefits will be paid from the start of the application month.

The same as for adults – the disability must prevent substantial gainful activity and last at least 12 months or be expected to result in death.

It’s typically up to 50% of the parent’s benefit if the parent is alive, and up to 75% if the parent is deceased.

DAC benefits are for adults disabled before age 22 and are based on a parent’s Social Security earnings record.

DAC benefits usually stop if you get married, though there are exceptions, like if you marry another DAC beneficiary.

Yes, as long as the marriage lasted for 10 years or more, and the claimant meets the other criteria for DWB.

Yes, after receiving DWB for 24 months, you will be eligible for Medicare. The 24-month waiting period starts from your eligibility date.

Yes, but there are limits to how much you can earn. The substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount is determined yearly and varies based on factors like blindness.

While not required, many choose to have a representative or attorney, especially if they need to appeal a decision, to navigate the process and improve their chances of approval. Give our office a call today to discuss your options in filing a claim for DWB benefits or appealing an adverse decision.

You should report changes, such as improvements in your medical condition, remarriage, or if you start working, to the Social Security Administration as they occur. You can do this by contacting your local Social Security office.

It’s defined in the same way as for SSDI: a medically determinable condition that prevents substantial gainful activity and has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months or result in death.

DWB generally continues until you reach full retirement age, at which point they will convert to regular widow/widower benefits.

The amount is based on the deceased spouse’s Social Security earnings record. Typically, a disabled widow or widower can receive about 71.5% to 99% of the deceased spouse’s basic amount.

Yes, similar to SSDI, there is a five-month waiting period from the onset of your disability before you can start receiving DWB.

DWB provides benefits to a disabled widow or widower based on the earnings record of a deceased spouse or ex-spouse if certain criteria are met.

If denied, you can request a reconsideration or appeal the decision. There are several levels of appeal, starting with reconsideration and possibly advancing to a hearing by an administrative law judge.

If you have been denied benefits regarding your DWB claim, give our office a call today so we can help you with the appeal process. Statistics show having a representative assisting you in your claim increases your chances of approval.

If you remarry before age 50, you cannot get DWB. If you remarry after the age 60 (or age 50 if you’re disabled), you will continue to qualify for benefits on your deceased spouse’s Social Security record. However, if your new spouse is also receiving Social Security benefits, it might be worth checking which claim would give you a higher benefit amount.

You can’t receive two benefits simultaneously. However, if you’re eligible for both, the Social Security Administration will give you the higher of the two benefits.

It’s recommended to apply as soon as you become disabled and meet the eligibility criteria. If approved, benefits will be retroactive up to 12 months prior to the application (excluding the 5-month waiting period).

To be eligible, you must be a widow or widower between ages 50 and 60 and meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disabled” within a specified period after spouse’s death.

Yes, people who qualify for both programs are “dual eligible.”

For Medicare, apply through the Social Security Administration. For Medicaid, it varies by state but often through the state Medicaid agencies.

Eligibility varies by state but generally considers income, household size, and other factors.

You qualify if you’re 65 or older, or if you’re under 65 and have been receiving Social Security disability benefits for at least 24 months.

Medicare is a federal program that provides health coverage for people 65+ or under 65 with certain disabilities. Medicaid is a state and federal program that provides health coverage based on financial need.

Yes, the Social Security Administration sets an earnings threshold each year. If you earn more than this threshold in a month, it’s counted as one of the nine months.

No, the Social Security Administration doesn’t use periods of work that qualify as FWAs to decide the onset date of your disability.

In many states, you can continue to receive Medicaid benefits through the 1619(b) provision if you have earnings that make you ineligible for SSI payments, provided you meet certain requirements.

Yes, but there are resource limits you must adhere to in order to continue receiving SSI. Utilizing work incentives like PASS can help you save money for specific goals without jeopardizing your benefits.

Yes, you are required to report your earnings to the Social Security Administration to ensure that you are receiving the correct amount of benefits.

TWP specifically pertains to SSDI, not SSI. SSI has its own work incentives and rules.

If you believe your return to work qualifies as a FWA, you should contact your Social Security office or representative. They’ll provide guidance on what information they need.

You can report your earnings by mail, phone, or in some cases, through the Social Security Administration website or mobile app.

A TWP is a set period of nine months allowing beneficiaries to test their ability to work while still receiving full benefits. A FWA is an unsuccessful attempt to return to work, which may occur before or after the start of the TWP or during the Extended Period of Eligibility (EPE).

If the Social Security Administration determines that your work was a FWA, it generally won’t count as Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), which means it won’t lead to a cessation of benefits.

For non-blind individuals, a work attempt is considered short if it lasts less than 6 months. For blind SSDI recipients, the time frame is different.

The work must have ended (or earnings reduced) because of the person’s disabling condition or the elimination of special conditions (like being allowed extra breaks) that were essential due to the disability.

Earned income can reduce the amount of your SSI benefits, but thanks to work incentives, it doesn’t usually eliminate them entirely. Always report your income to avoid overpayments.

It lasts for nine months within a rolling 60-month period.

Any income above the earned income exclusion limit will be counted and could reduce your SSI benefit amount. The exact amount varies and is subject to change, so it’s essential to consult with the Social Security Administration or a benefits specialist.

Yes, multiple work attempts can be considered FWAs if they meet the criteria.

Typically, no. For a work attempt to be considered a “failed work attempt” for non-blind individuals, it must have lasted less than six months.

SSI work incentives are rules or programs designed to help individuals receiving SSI return to work or work for the first time without immediately losing their SSI or Medicaid benefits.

Failure to report income can result in overpayments, which you will be required to pay back. In some cases, it may result in the suspension or termination of your benefits.

The documents required can vary depending on the work incentive but may include pay stubs, a written work plan, or receipts for impairment-related expenses.

After TWP, you enter the Extended Period of Eligibility. You can still receive benefits for any month your earnings fall below the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit.

If you stop working, you should report this to the Social Security Administration. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for reinstatement of your full SSI benefits.

A FWA is an attempt to return to work that lasts for a short duration and ends due to the individual’s medical condition or the removal or special conditions related to the disability.

A PASS allows you to set aside income and resources for a specific employment goal, like going to school or starting a business, without affecting your SSI eligibility.

TWP allows beneficiaries to test their ability to work for at least nine months without losing their SSDI benefits.

IRWE refers to the costs of certain impairment-related items and services that you need to work, even if those items or services are also needed for daily living. These costs are deducted from your income, allowing you to maintain higher SSI benefits.

The Earned Income Exclusion allows you to exclude a portion of your earned income when calculating your SSI payment, thus reducing the impact of your earnings on your benefits.

SEIE is a work incentive that allows students under the age of 22 and regularly attending school to exclude a specific amount of earned income per month from the SSI eligibility determination.

Recognizing a FWA ensures that a person’s disability benefits aren’t necessarily affected by a brief return to work. It allows beneficiaries to try working without fear of immediately losing benefits.

Yes, you can bring witnesses to testify on your behalf about how your disability affects your daily life. Inform the ALJ ahead of time if you plan to do this.

Yes, you can (and should) submit any new medical evidence. Ideally, submit new evidence as soon as possible, and at least five days before the hearing, to give the ALJ time to review it.

While not required, many claimants choose to have a representative or attorney experienced in Social Security disability cases to assist and advocate for them. Give our office a call today if you are not represented and have a pending hearing date.

If you disagree with a decision made on your disability claim, you can request an appeal online or by contacting your local SSA office. There's a 60-day window to request this hearing after receiving the decision.

Wait times can vary based on the workload of the local OHO, but many applicants wait several months to over a year from the request date.

Typically, SSA hearings last between 30 minutes to an hour, though this can vary based on the complexity of the case.

While it's a legal proceeding, it's much less formal than a courtroom trial. However, testimonies are under oath, and the proceedings are recorded.

Absolutely. Familiarize yourself with your medical records, practice answering potential questions about your condition and limitations, and consult with your representative or attorney to strategize.

If you disagree, you can request a review by the Appeals Council. If they deny your request or you disagree with their decision, the final step in the appeal process is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

An SSA hearing is an administrative procedure where an applicant can appeal a denied claim for disability benefits. It's conducted before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to reevaluate the evidence and make a new decision.

The ALJ will ask questions about your medical condition, treatment, daily activities, and work history. Vocational or medical experts, if present, might provide testimony. You or your representative can also present evidence and question experts.

Decisions aren't usually made on the spot. You'll receive a written decision in the mail, which can take a few weeks to several months after the hearing date.

Hearings are typically held at an Office of Hearing Operations (OHO) near the applicant's residence. In some cases, video conferencing might be used. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration now conducts hearings over the telephone more often. If you have a representative assisting you with your claim, they will help to best advise the manner of appearance that fits your specific needs.

Typically, the ALJ, a hearing reporter, possibly vocational and/or medical experts, the claimant, and their representative (if they have one).

Yes, if an applicant disagrees with the DDS decision, they can request a reconsideration, which is often another review by DDS. If denied again, the applicant can appeal further, ultimately leading to an SSA hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

Yes, applicants can contact their state's DDS for status updates or to provide additional information. However, for general queries about the disability process or non-medical aspects, it's best to contact the local Social Security office.

No, DDS only determines medical eligibility. The amount of SSDI or SSI benefits, if approved, is determined by other factors handled by the Social Security Administration.

DDS gathers medical records from the sources provided by the applicant, reviews the evidence, and may request additional exams or tests. They assess if the medical condition meets the SSA's definition of disability.

The timeframe can vary based on the complexity of the case, the clarity of medical evidence, and the workload of the particular DDS office. Generally, it can take anywhere from 4-6 months.

DDS reviews medical evidence, arranges for medical examinations or tests if necessary, and makes an initial determination on whether the applicant is medically disabled as per SSA criteria.

Once DDS determines the medical eligibility, the file is returned to the local Social Security office. If medically approved, the local office then assesses non-medical criteria (like income or work credits) to decide if benefits will be granted.

If a significant amount of time has passed since you submitted your application and you haven't received a decision or communication, it might be a good idea to contact your local Social Security office or DDS to inquire about the status. If you have a representative assisting you in your claim, it would be best to reach out to their office before contacting SSA or DDS.

DDS is a state agency responsible for determining whether an applicant is medically eligible to receive disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs.

Inform the SSA immediately if there's a significant change in your medical condition or if you receive new medical evidence. Depending on the situation, the case may be reevaluated.

While DDS decisions play a role in federal disability programs, the services themselves are state-operated. However, they work in accordance with federal regulations and guidelines set by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

DDS exists to provide a standardized medical review process for SSDI and SSI applicants, ensuring that decisions about medical eligibility are consistent and based on comprehensive evidence.