Disability is defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of no less than 12 months.

An applicant is responsible for proving that they are disabled and unable to work for at least 12 months. You may not simply allege you are unable to work, but must prove it by submitting medically acceptable evidence. The development of evidence is crucial to winning your case. The SSA will hire medical and vocational experts to prove that you are able to work. The good news is that you are entitle to have an attorney at your side. The even better news is your attorney does not get paid unless you win!

The SSA oversees two federal programs designed to help those not able to work due to long lasting or permanent disabilities: The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

If you are disabled from performing substantial employment, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

Differences between SSDI and SSI Benefits:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the program under which those who have paid into the Social Security system can receive benefits, in a manner similar to those collecting retirement benefits. It is a form of insurance for those employed, and workers contribute to this fund through payroll deductions. In contrast, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program for those with limited resources who have become disabled. It is a type of welfare program. There are work requirements for SSDI, but none for SSI. This is intended to fill the gap for disabled persons who cannot meet the work requirements. There are asset limits for SSI, but none for SSDI.

Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI) benefits are paid to people who are both poor and disabled. In addition, SSI children’s disability benefits are paid to children 18 years old and younger who are disabled and whose parents or guardians are poor.

Click here to apply, or if you have been denied benefits

Social Security Disability Benefits (SSD)

Social Security Disability Benefits (SSD) are paid to disabled people who have reasonably stable work histories. Generally, SSD is available if you have been employed five out of the last ten years.

Click here to apply, or if you have been denied benefits

Steps To Getting Social Security Disability (SSD), Or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefits.

STEP ONE: Initial Application

Applicants file initial application and supporting documents with the Social Security Administration.

STEP TWO: Reconsideration Level

If you are denied benefits on your initial application, you must request reconsideration of your case within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. The most common mistake made by applicants is failing to appeal. Additional medical evidence can be presented.

STEP THREE: Hearing Level

If your claim is denied after reconsideration, you have 60 days to request a hearing which will be held in front of an administrative law judge who will listen to witnesses, review medical evidence, and decide your case.

STEP FOUR: Appeals Council Level

This step consists of filing a written appeal which will be considered by a special department of the Social Security Administration in Falls Church, Virginia. The appeals Council reviews their case to determine whether you were given a fair hearing. If you succeed, your case will likely be remanded back to the Administrative Law Judge for further proceedings.

STEP FIVE: Federal Court Level

If the Appeals Council denies your appeal and/or refuses to review your case, you have 60 days to file for review of your case in the Federal District Court. After reviewing the record from your hearing, the Federal judge can (1) award disability benefits, (2) deny disability benefits, or (3) send your case back for an additional hearing.

If you are currently a client and would like a status update of your case, please e-mail dgisantamonica@gmail.com and place “status update” in the subject line and include your full name and social security number.