Experienced Social Security Disability Attorneys fighting for the rights of our clients since 1975
Since 1975, the experienced Social Security Disability attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. have been fighting for the disabled, the injured and those who require Social Security Disability benefits.
What is the difference between SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income)?
The main difference between Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the fact that SSDI is available to workers who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits, while SSI disability benefits are available to low-income individuals who have either never worked or who haven’t earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.
What Is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income is a program that is strictly need-based, according to income and assets. SSI is called a “means-tested program,” meaning it has nothing to do with work history, but strictly with financial need. To meet the SSI income requirements, you must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple) and a very limited income.
Disabled people who are eligible under the income requirements for SSI are also able to receive Medicaid in the state they reside in. Most people who qualify for SSI will also qualify for food stamps, and the amount an eligible person will receive is dependent on where they live and the amount of regular, monthly income they have. SSI benefits will begin on the first of the month when you first submit your application.
What Is SSDI?
Social Security Disability Insurance is funded through payroll taxes. SSDI recipients are considered “insured” because they have worked for a certain number of years and have made contributions to the Social Security trust fund in the form of FICA Social Security taxes. SSDI candidates must be younger than 65 and have earned a certain number of “work credits.” After receiving SSDI for two years, a disabled person will become eligible for Medicare.
Under SSDI, a disabled person’s spouse and children dependents are eligible to receive partial dependent benefits, called auxiliary benefits. However, only adults over the age of 18 can receive the SSDI disability benefit.
There is a five-month waiting period for benefits, meaning that the SSA won’t pay you benefits for the first five months after you become disabled. The amount of the monthly benefit after the waiting period is over depends on your earnings record.
How do I qualify for SSDI or SSI?
SSDI: In order to receive SSD benefits, an individual is required to show that they have been working recently and they have to have worked for a minimal amount of time depending on their age. These requirements are known as the recent work test and the duration of work test. To see a table of how these tests are broken down by age, the Social Security Administration sets them out in their Disability Benefits booklet.
SSI: There are specific requirements for SSI eligibility. Individuals must be:
- Blind; or Disabled;
- Have limited income; and
- Have limited resources; and
- Is a U.S. citizen or national; and
- Is a resident of one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the North Mariana Islands; and
- Is does not leave the court for 30 consecutive days or more; and
- Applies for all other possible benefits the individual is eligible for; and
- Releases all financial records to the SSA; and
- Files a complete application.
What is the process? How long does it take?
The SSD determination process is broken into five steps
- Is the applicant working? If the applicant is working and earning a specific amount each month, then the applicant will not be considered disabled. If the applicant is not working or is earning less than the specific amount, then the DDS will look at the applicant’s medical condition.
- Is the applicant’s medical condition “severe”? The applicant’s “medical condition must significantly limit their ability to do basic work activities – such as walking, sitting and remembering – for at least one year.” If the condition is considered severe, then the DDS goes to the next step in the process.
- Is the applicant’s medical condition on the SSA’s List of Impairments? If the applicant’s medical condition, or combination of medical conditions, is on the List of Impairments, then the applicant will be considered disabled. If the applicant’s medical condition is not on the list, then the DDS will determine if it is as severe as a listed condition and if not, then go onto the next determination.
- Can the applicant do the work they did before? If an applicant can still do their previous job, then they will not be considered disabled. If the applicant cannot continue with their previous job, then the DDS goes onto the next determination.
- Can the applicant do any other type of work? The DDS will evaluate the applicant’s medical condition, age, education, past work experience and any other skills to determine if the applicant can work at a different job. If the DDS finds the applicant can do other work, the applicant is not considered disabled. If the applicant cannot do other work, the applicant is considered disabled.
How can a disability attorney help me?
A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that people who hired an attorney to help them with their disability benefits cases were three times more likely to be successful than people who did not.
From the initial application to the hearing level and beyond, disability attorneys understand how to present a case in the light most favorable to their clients. On the initial application, your lawyer can offer advice on your “alleged onset date” of disability, argue that your condition meets one of the listed impairments in Social Security’s “blue book,” and help you focus on the facts that will be most persuasive to Social Security.
At the reconsideration and hearing levels (the first and second level of appeal in most states), your lawyer can collect and submit relevant medical evidence, obtain an opinion from your doctor, draft a detailed brief to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and prepare you for the judge’s questions at the hearing. Your attorney will also elicit helpful testimony from you at the hearing and may cross-examine the Vocational Expert or Medical Expert to demonstrate that you’re unable to work.
At the next stages of appeal, the Appeals Council and federal court, your lawyer can craft sophisticated legal arguments to show that Social Security wrongly denied your case.
Contact Our Experienced Team Today
You have the right to appeal a decision of the Social Security Administration denying your Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. But time is critical: if your case has been denied you have only 60 days to file an appeal or start the process all over again.
Call or contact us today for your FREE consultation in our Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Islamorada or Key West office.
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Learn more about what to look for when hiring an attorney when filing for your Social Security Disability benefits.
Social Security law is complex; at Hoffman, Larin and Agnetti, PA we offer a free consultation so that you can learn your rights. There are no fees for representation before the Social Security Administration in disability claims, unless we win. We have offices in Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties for your convenience.