Social Security Disability Benefits

Need to know how to apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

Has your disability application been denied?

We can help.

The application and appeals process can be complex and difficult to deal with. We know how the system works. We can guide you through the application and appeals process. Social Security pays disability benefits to adults who can’t work because they have a medical condition that has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

There are two Social Security disability programs:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to you as a disabled worker and to certain members of your family.

To be insured for SSDI: You must be at least age 18 and you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes to be insured for SSDI.

You generally need 20 work credits earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled to be insured, but younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

Disabled Widow or Widower under SSDI If a person is filing for disabled widow or widower’s benefits, he or she must be at least 50 years old to be eligible for those benefits under SSDI.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.

To qualify for SSI: You must meet certain citizenship and residency requirements, and you must have limited income and resources.

Income includes:

  • Money earned from work
  • money you receive from other sources, such as Social Security benefits, workers compensation, unemployment benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs, friends or relatives;
  • Free food or shelter

Resources are things you own with some exclusions, such as the home you own and one vehicle. SSI counted resource limits are $2,000 for an Individual or child and $3,000 for a couple.


Child SSI: A child may be eligible for SSI benefits as early as the date of birth if he or she has a disabling physical or mental condition that results in marked and severe functional limitations that has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

Income and resources of the child’s family or guardians are taken into consideration when SSA determines the child’s eligibility for SSI.

A disabled child who receives SSI disability payments may also have other state services available to them.

Q: Do I qualify for both SSDI and SSI?

A: Many people receive both SSDI and SSI disability benefits. You would have to have
worked long enough to be insured for SSDI and your income and resources must be at a level to qualify for SSI.The best way to find out if you will qualify for Social Security benefits is to speak with an experienced disabilility representative about the specifics of your condition and case.

Q: I am a military service member who has a disability. Can I apply for Social Security Disability?

A: Yes. Military service members can apply for Social Security disability. An active duty military member who continues to receive pay while in a hospital or while on medical leave should consider applying for disability benefits if he or she has been unable to work due to a disabling condition. Social Security disability rules are different from those at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Both programs require a separate application..

Applying for Disability:

If you cannot work because you have a disabling physical or mental condition, apply for disability benefits. It is important to provide information about your physical and mental conditions, limitations, and other evidence as part of your disability application.

Evidence includes:

  • Medical records from your doctors and other sources
  • Doctor’s opinions
  • Laboratory and other clinical test results
  • Medications or other prescribed treatments
  • Activities of daily living
  • Education
  • Employment history and job duties

Applying for disability can be more complicated than it appears, so let us help you right from the start. We can make sure your disability application is complete and presents the evidence necessary to prove your disability claim.

Q: When should I apply for disability benefits?

A: Apply as soon as you are disabled, even if you are receiving workers’ compensation or other non-wage compensation.

Q: Would it be better to apply for early retirement instead of disability?

A: Your monthly retirement benefit amount will be reduced if you start receiving these benefits before you reach what is called “full retirement age”. Before applying for early retirement, you may want to first apply for disability benefits under SSDI if you have an impairment or condition that prevents you from working. If you are approved for disability benefits you will receive 100% of your monthly rate and that rate will continue when you reach retirement.

Disability Evaluation:

Most Social Security disability claims are initially processed through local Social Security Administration field offices and State agencies (usually called Disability Determination Services). A Disability Claims Examiner at the State agency reviews your medical records and other evidence to make an initial disability determination.

If your application is denied, you can appeal. Being denied Social Security Disability benefits can be discouraging, but the initial determination is just one step toward getting the benefits you deserve. It is important to provide any additional medical or other evidence of your medical conditions and limitations.

An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help you navigate the system and manage the process. Your disability lawyer will obtain the evidence and present it in the most effective way at the hearing with an Administrative Law Judge.

At all levels of the administrative process, the Social Security Administration adjudicator applies five-steps in disability evaluation:

  1. Are you working?
  2. Is your medical condition “severe”?
  3. Does your impairment(s) meet or medically equal a listing?
  4. Can you do the work you did before?
  5. Can you do any other type of work?

Q: How long should I expect to wait to get an initial determination about my disability case?

A: On average, it takes three to five months to get an initial determination. However, there is an expedited process for veterans who have a 100% VA disability rating.

Q: What percentage of Social Security disability benefit applications are allowed?

A: About 33% of disability claims are allowed on initial application. At the hearing level, about 52% are approved for disability benefits.


Contact an Experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer at Cardea Disability, LLC