Answering the 10 Most Frequently Asked Social Security Disability Questions

Understanding the topic of Social Security Disability can be challenging, to say the least. Many people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits are lost in a sea of questions like, “How do I apply?” and, “How long will it take to be approved?” Applying for Social Security Disability can be an overwhelming endeavor, especially if you have unanswered questions going in to the process. Fortunately you can arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make the Social Security Disability claim process as simple and stress-free as possible. Here are answers to the top ten questions people ask when applying for Social Security Disability.

Question #1: How Can I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

There are three ways to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. If you prefer to apply from the comfort of your home you can apply online at the Social Security Disability application website or you can call the Social Security Administration's toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213. If you prefer to apply in person, you can go down to your local Social Security office and complete your application there.

Question #2: How Long Will it Take to Be Approved for Disability Benefits?

It's no secret that Social Security Disability claims can take months or even years to be approved. This can be very frustrating to those who need Social Security Disability benefits to make ends meet. The fact of the matter is that the length of your approval time will depend on your specific disability case. If your particular disability falls under the Compassionate Allowance program, you may be approved for Social Security Disability benefits in as little as twenty days. Otherwise, it will take at least 90 to 120 days for your application to be approved – and that's only if your initial application is not denied. In some cases an approval can take years.

Question #3: What Happens if my Disability Application is Denied?

If your application for Social Security Disability benefits is denied, you will need to file an appeal within 60 days of receiving the letter. If you are denied at the initial level, do not assume you will not get Social Security Disability benefits. Many people go on to successfully appeal a denied disability claim. If you do need to appeal your Social Security Disability determination, you may want to hire a Social Security Disability attorney for the best chances of having the decision overturned.

Question #4: Can People Earn Extra Income When Receiving Social Security Disability?

Many people assume that individuals who receive Social Security Disability benefits are not allowed to earn any income at all. This is not the case. People who receive Social Security Disability are allowed to earn an income, but that income must not exceed $720 per month in order for benefits to remain unaffected.

Question #5: Do I Need a Social Security Disability Attorney?

To file your initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits, you might want to work with a Social Security Disability lawyer to ensure that the intricacies of the paperwork are completed correctly. If, however, your initial claim is denied then you should definitely consider retaining the services of a Social Security Disability attorney to represent you during the appeal process. Your chances of the appeal being successful can increase significantly with proper representation.

Question #6: What is a Representative Payee and Why Do I Need One?

If you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security office may determine that your benefits need to be handled by a representative payee. This person will be responsible for collecting your benefits and paying your living expenses every month. Usually this will occur when the Social Security office feels that a person is unable to manage their benefits on their own.

Question #7: What if My Representative Payee Misuses My Money?

If you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits and your representative payee misuses your money, you need to go down to the Social Security office and make them aware of this fact. They will investigate on your behalf and will take appropriate measures.

Question #8: Can I Ever Go Back to Work if I Start Receiving Social Security Disability Payments?

Yes, if you want to return to the workplace at some point in the future there are programs in place to make the transition easier. The Ticket to Work program allows you to work nine months within a sixty-month period without losing benefits. After nine months of earning more than $1,000 per month, however, your Social Security Disability benefits will be discontinued.

Question #9: What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the program you pay into while you are working. As you pay Social Security taxes, you earn credits. If you are determined to be disabled and you have enough credits, you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on the other hand, is a need-based program. In addition to being disabled you must meet the income limit requirements to receive this type of benefit.

Question #10: What Happens after I am Approved for Disability Benefits?

Once you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits, you will begin receiving monthly disability benefit payments. You may also receive a lump-sum back payment depending on the date you were deemed to be disabled. Periodically, your Social Security Disability case will be reviewed. This will happen every one to seven years depending on your disability.