The Social Security Administration offers two programs that assist with
disability benefits: Disability Insurance Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income.
Disability Insurance Benefits provide benefits for disabled workers who
have worked five out of the last 10 years. To see if you qualify for Disability
Insurance Benefits and to see how much you are eligible for, go to
Supplemental Security Income is a needs based public assistance program.
Individuals with disabilities can apply and are eligible if they meet
the financial criteria.
The Social Security Act defines disability as the inability to perform
substantial gainful activity for at least 12 continuous months by reason
of physical and/or mental impairment. Consequently, your impairment must
have kept you out of work for a year OR will keep you out of work for
at least a year.
The Social Security Administration provides for disabilities including
musculoskeletal impairments; speech, vision or hearing impairments; chronic
breathing problems; chronic heart disease, liver disease, blood disorders,
neurological disorders, obesity, mental disorders, rheumatoid arthritis,
cancer, immune system disorders, and other severe medical conditions.
Social Security will determine whether your physical and/or psychological
issues interfere with your ability to work eight hours a day, five days
a week on a consistent basis.
Your Social Security Disability claim will be examined at three different stages:
Stage 1 - Initial application. The medical information will be reviewed by a doctor
at the state agency. This review normally takes three to six months to
reach a decision.
Stage 2 - Reconsideration. Again, your claim will be reviewed by a doctor at the
State Agency. This review can take up to three months
Stage 3 - Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The Judge will entertain arguments
by your attorney considering medical evidence and doctor opinions.
Should you be denied at the Hearing level, you can appeal to the Appeals
Council. The Appeals Council can either send your claim back to the Administrative
Law Judge to correct errors and reconsider your claim, OR deny your appeal.
If you are denied, the next step is to file a legal claim in Federal District Court.