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Social Security Disability

Answers about Social Security Disability

If you have a disabling condition that has lasted (or is expected to last) more than one year, you could be eligible for Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, obtaining Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits is a complex process that causes many people to give up. Legal representation is often critical for getting benefits started.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about Social Security Disability benefits.

What is the difference between Social Security Disability benefits and SSI benefits?

Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits are available to workers who have paid into the social security system and earned enough credits for coverage. The amount of the benefits you get will depend upon your earnings during your working life.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are available to disabled persons who have not earned enough credits to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits and meet Social Security's low income and asset requirements. SSI benefits are generally lower than SSDI benefits.

How much will my monthly benefit be if I am approved for Social Security benefits?

For SSDI, the amount of your benefits will depend on your earnings prior to becoming disabled. You can call your local Social Security Administration office or log onto to find out your potential monthly rate.

As of 2019, the maximum SSI benefit is $771.00 per month for an individual and $1,157 for a couple. The amount of your monthly benefit is calculated by the local security office after they obtain financial information from you about the income and assets of your household.

If I am approved, will I get Medicare or Medicaid?

As a general rule, Medicare comes with SSDI and Medicaid comes with SSI.

You are not eligible for Medicare benefits until two years and five months have elapsed from the date your disability began. There is no waiting period for Medicaid.

How do I get started?

You start by filing an application with your local Social Security Administration office. You can do this in person, by phone, or online at

What happens after I apply?

Your claim will be assigned to an adjudicator. The adjudicator will obtain copies of your medical records and may send you for a medical examination. The adjudicator will also send forms for you to complete and return. These forms relate to your daily activities and how they are affected by your conditions.

Once the Social Security Administration has gathered all your information, they will decide your case and send you a decision.

I was turned down. How do I appeal?

Once you are turned down at the initial level, you have sixty days to file a Request for Reconsideration. Most applicants are turned down at the initial application and at the reconsideration level. If you are turned down at the reconsideration level, you have sixty days from the date of the turn-down notice to file a Request for a Hearing. The hearing is held by an administrative law judge who hears only Social Security claims.

How long will it take for my disability application to be approved?

There is no set time period. Applications may take two years or longer to reach a hearing. In rare cases this process can be expedited by filing a “dire needs” request. The dire need must be a financial or medical care emergency.

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