Applying for Social Security Disability can be complicated, confusing, and frustrating process. Elliott & Ritch will be there with you, hand-in-hand, to help you navigate the bureaucracy every step of the way.

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program available to those who have suffered long-term disabilities, impairments and mental disorders that have or are expected to prevent them from otherwise holding a steady job or from finding a new line of work for at least 12-continuous months.

Applying for SSDI is a complicated process. Small errors and poor description of limitations in the initial application and/or appeal process often leads to the denial of benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA). For this reason, any application and appeals process should be carefully handled by an experienced advocate who can help claimants obtain the benefits they need.

Applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program available to indigent individuals who do not qualify for SSDI because they lack sufficient work experience in a job covered by the SSA. There is a maximum income limitation that determines eligibility for this program. This income limitation is roughly $1,000 per month depending upon your sources of income and other assistance programs you may be on.

The SSI program provides cash to elderly, blind and disabled citizens who have little or no income. It’s designed to provide cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. Qualifying individuals can receive the maximum benefit of $721 per month for 2014.

The Five-Step Process

Other than the basic difference in income considerations, the Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to determine if an individual is eligible to receive benefits.

The SSA five-step process is as follows:
    1. Are you working? 
      If you are earning over a certain level of wages (usually $1,047 per month), by Social Security standards, you are not disabled. If you are not earning anything or not earning at the specified level, consideration of your impairments based upon medical evidence from your treating sources is considered at step two.
    2. Is your condition considered severe? 
      There are various rules and regulations relied upon by Social Security in determining if your condition is severe by their standards.  If it’s not considered severe by SSA standards, you are not considered disabled and eligible for benefits. If your medical condition results in limitations of your ability to perform basic work activities — sitting for prolonged periods, standing, lifting 10 pounds or more, etc. and these limitations have last or are expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, your condition is generally considered severe.
    3. Does your impairment or combination of impairments meet or equal a condition on the prescribed Listing of Impairments? If yes, you are considered disabled based on Social Security rules and regulations.
    4. Can you return to previous work or what is referred to as Past Relevant Work? 
      If so, you are considered not disabled under Social Security rules and regulations.
    5. Can you do other work? 
      ​SSA considers your impairment and resulting limitations, education, age and vocational skills. If, under Social Security rules and regulations, it is determined you can do other work, you are found not disabled.
There are many other factors taken into consideration in the processing and development of Social Security disability and SSI disability claims.  Some conditions result in an automatic finding of disability and are referred to as a Compassionate Allowance.

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