When you’re applying for SSDI, you are going to have a ton of questions. Some of them can be solved with a quick internet search, but others may require calling your local SSA field office. There are even more questions that you might be uncomfortable asking a representative at the SSA, and you could instead consult an attorney. Nevertheless, you will inevitably have questions and need answers to complete your application and bring a successful SSDI claim. Here you will find some common questions asked when people are in this process.
What’s the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?
SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. SSI stands for Supplemental Security Income. Both are federally funded, though through different channels. SSDI is funded through FICA and Social Security taxes, and SSI funding is drawn from general tax revenues. Both programs intend to help people facing work issues due to disability.
The qualifications vary between the two programs. SSDI is based on a person’s work history and past tax payments. Your disability has to fit their qualifications to be approved. SSI is for people that need support to fill their basic needs (like food, shelter, and clothing) and are either old, disabled, or blind. These specific sets of qualifiers must be followed to get benefits when needed.
What are My Chances of Approval?
Unfortunately, most people are denied in the initial stages of SSDI application. According to the Disability Benefits Center, the states’ average initial approval rates can range from a low of 24.1% (Kentucky) to 53.6% (Wyoming). Connecticut has an initial approval rate of 30.2%, which is on the lower end of the spectrum. This means that your application may be denied on the first round, forcing you to appeal within 60 days or risk having to complete a new application.
How Much Money Will I Receive?
SSDI is based on your work history, meaning it can change depending on the person and occupation. The amount will be calculated from an average of your lifetime earnings. Thankfully, if you are approved, you will receive a letter annually explaining how much you will get every month and showing you your disability benefit estimate. Unfortunately, benefits are not paid until the sixth month of your disability. Be prepared to wait even beyond the application process.
SSI is a little easier to guess the amount of monthly benefits. According to the SSA, the federal government payment for SSI is $841 for an individual and $1,261 for a couple in 2022. Depending on where you live, you might get an additional supplement from the State. Connecticut pays the supplemental payment through its own funding, and they administer it themselves. Some states pay a supplement through the federal government, and some states don’t pay a supplement at all.
Can I Still Work If I Receive Benefits?
This depends on the program that you get benefits from, either SSDI or SSI. For SSDI, you are assumed not to be able to work a full-time job because that is the basis for receiving these benefits. You can earn up to $1,350 (or $2,260 for people that are blind), which is referred to as substantial gainful activity. However, if you work at all, you must prove that you still can’t work full-time.
The more you work, the harder it is to show that you should still be eligible for the benefits. If you are on SSI, you will be encouraged to work, but the amount may be difficult to figure out. SSI is meant for those with limited financial resources who are either old, blind, or disabled. You can work unlimited hours but you are limited to the benefits you receive. The SSA will exclude the first $65 you earn; then, they will subtract half of the income you earned that month from the monthly benefit payment. Let’s assume you only receive the Federal Base Rate for SSI ($841). If you make $1,200 in a month, the SSA will subtract $665 from the monthly payment. You would get a check for $176, making your income that month $1,376, including the benefits. You can maximize your income in a month keeping the limits of your SSI benefits in mind.
Can I Get Benefits If I’m Convicted of a Crime?
Note that you are ineligible for benefits while you have a warrant for your arrest. However, that does not exclude you from receiving benefits if you are arrested. If convicted of a crime, you will probably not be paid benefits while you are imprisoned, but your family members may be able to receive benefits on your behalf. You should consider contacting an attorney if you are arrested while getting benefits and find one well-versed in disability law so you do not get discontinued from payments. You will also face issues if you have violated your parole.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer to handle your SSDI case will increase your chances of getting benefits and decrease the time spent on it, keeping your case strong and your stress levels low. Because so many applications are denied initially, you would do well to hire an attorney as soon as possible. While you have to work on it initially, you will find that the process will feel smoother and easier to handle because your attorney can advise you on how to best handle your case. If you are forced to appeal, your lawyer can come with you to a hearing, making interacting with an administrative judge much easier. It will be easier to handle issues that arise at any point in a case if you have retained a lawyer before they happened.
Get Help Today!
You are inevitably going to have questions throughout this process. You might prefer to do the process alone and find the answers you need through the internet or by contacting the SSA, but there are some answers that you can’t find or won’t get from anyone but a lawyer dedicated to your case. The internet will be immensely helpful to you at this time, so don’t forget to see if someone has already answered your questions in a forum, on a lawyer’s website, or published through the SSA. If you want to ease your troubles before they happen or you just don’t have time to do it yourself, contact a local disability attorney. Contact us for personal help handling your SSDI benefits today.