FAQ

We have put together a short list of commonly asked questions regarding our office and Social Security disability programs and procedures.  If you can’t find your question below, please direct your questions to our office staff.Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I need an attorney?
  2. Who should I select to represent me?
  3. How much will an attorney charge to represent me?
  4. Is the attorney fee automatically deducted from any favorable decision I receive?
  5. What is SSDI?
  6. What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?
  7. Can I qualify for SSDI and SSI at the same time?
  8. How does the Social Security Administration define “disability”?
  9. How do I apply for benefits?
  10. What forms or records will I need to provide during the application process?
  11. How long before I can expect notification of approval or denial?
  12. What can I do if I am denied? Is there an appeals process?
  13. Will I be sent to a doctor for evaluation?
  14. Can I continue to work in any capacity when receiving SSDI or SSI? Is there an earnings limit?
  15. How much will I earn on SSDI?
  16. Can I receive partial SSDI benefits? 
  17. If I’m disabled, are my children entitled to benefits?
  18. Am I entitled to Medicare when approved for SSDI?
  19. When I reach retirement age, does my SSDI benefit continue, or do I begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits?
  20. Can SSDI benefits be stopped by SSA?
  21. If I’m over 65 and receive Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare, can I receive additional benefits if I’m disabled?
  22. Are widow’s benefits available at age 60?
  23. Will an inheritance affect my SSDI benefits?
Do I need an attorney?Filing a claim with the government is a legal matter involving special rules and regulations that require interpretation and application to the unique facts of your case. An attorney who is trained to be an effective advocate is best suited to represent a claimant.Back to Top
Who should I select to represent me?There are several factors you should consider when choosing a representative. Experience with disability cases; trustworthiness; convenience of office location; and independence are particularly important. You deserve a representative that represents your interests and only your interests. Be wary of any organization that offers to represent you while also serving a disability insurance company or medical provider.Moreover, a claimant in Texas is better served by a representative who is also in Texas, familiar with the offices and Social Security personnel who will handle your case. Having a representative close to you will facilitate coordination of the case and establish a more personal relationship between representative and client.

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How much will an attorney charge to represent me?The Texas Law Offices of Martin A. Harry does not charge a fee unless your claim is approved.  The Social Security Administration generally approves a fee equivalent to 25 percent of past-due benefits.  It is a one-time fee only.  If there are no past-due benefits, the fee will not exceed the amount of the first month’s benefit awarded.  There is no charge for home/office consultations or ordinary expenses associated with representation.Back to Top
Is the attorney fee automatically deducted from any favorable decision I receive?If you are awarded a favorable decision, the money is usually automatically deducted from the first check received for past-due benefits.  If there are no past-due benefits, payment arrangements are made for the payment of the fee approved by the Social Security Administration.  Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the attorney fee.Back to Top
What is SSDI?Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal insurance program for people who are unable to work because of a disability. The law provides for a federal/state arrangement with State agencies making the disability determination. If SSDI benefits are payable, the Social Security Administration (federal) will adjudicate and certify them.Back to Top
What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?Social Security Disability Insurance is a program based upon contributions made by individuals working and paying Social Security taxes. Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes are withheld by the Social Security Administration on wages paid to an individual.If you work and earn enough credits you become insured for a disability benefit. You can earn up to four credits per year. The number of work credits needed for SSDI benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need to have worked five years (20 credits) out of the last ten years (40 credits) before you became disabled. The benefit amount depends on how much you earned and how much you paid into Social Security.

Supplemental Security Income is a separate program administered by SSA and funded by general, federal tax revenues. It pays monthly benefits to the elderly, the blind and people with disabilities who have low income and very limited assets. Some State governments supplement federal SSI benefits.

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Can I qualify for SSDI and SSI at the same time?Yes, you may qualify for both if your Social Security Disability Insurance benefit is below a certain amount and you have limited resources.Back to Top
How does the Social Security Administration define “disability”?Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income have the same definition of disability. It’s the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a period of not less than 12 months. There is a five-step evaluation process for making this determination.Back to Top
How do I apply for benefits?The first step in the application process is an interview for personal information to be collected to determine what type, if any, claim can be made. If non-medical requirements are met, a set of forms is then required to be completed and submitted to the Social Security Administration. Interviews can be scheduled by calling 1-800-772-1213. The interviews can be conducted by telephone or at a SSA office.  The application may also be completed online at www.SSA.gov.  You may want to consult an attorney prior to the interview and completion of the forms.Back to Top
What forms or records will I need to provide during the application process?You will need to provide a certified copy of your birth certificate or other proof of citizenship to apply for disability benefits. You may be asked to provide copies of military discharge, birth certificates of eligible children, wage statements, copies of worker compensation award information, and a voided check to set up direct deposit if benefits are awarded.In addition to actual copies of the above, you will be asked to provide information on work history and medical history (including names, addresses, dates tested by all health care providers, medications and, of course, medical symptoms). Applicants will also be asked to provide personal information about daily activities and interests.

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How long before I can expect notification of approval or denial?Processing times for disability applications vary from State to State. In Texas, generally an initial application will take about three-five months before a decision.Back to Top
What can I do if I am denied? Is there an appeals process?If your application is denied you have 60 days to appeal. This is called “Reconsideration.” This will take about two to three months to complete. If denied again after reconsideration you have 60 days to appeal and ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge. It could take an additional 6-12 months to have a hearing scheduled. If denied by an administrative law judge you have 60 days to appeal to an appeals council. If denied by an appeals council you may then file outside the Social Security Administration at the Federal District Court.Back to Top
Will I be sent to a doctor for evaluation?Whether or not you are asked to see another doctor for evaluation depends on your medical condition and the medical documentation available from your own doctors. If there is a conflict in the records regarding your condition or if there is an indication that you have improved with treatment, a medical consultation may be scheduled to clarify your medical diagnosis and limitations.Back to Top
Can I continue to work in any capacity when receiving SSDI or SSI? Is there an earnings limit?If receiving Social Security Disability Insurance you may be entitled to a trial work period, depending on your medical condition. That trial work period may allow you to test your ability to work for nine months while still drawing the full SSDI monthly benefit. After nine months of trial work you will lose your SSDI cash benefit if earnings are over a certain amount, which is subject to change from year to year.Since Supplemental Security Income is based on economic need, SSI benefits are always subject to adjustment based on wages or any other income.

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How much will I earn on SSDI?The Social Security Administration uses a complex formula to determine monthly Social Security Disability Insurance benefit amounts. Factors that influence that amount include: earnings, amount of Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes paid, claimant age and date of disability. Usually, the formula yields a benefit amount that replaces about 42 percent of your earnings.To obtain an estimate of your SSDI benefit, complete a form called the Request for Earnings and Benefit Estimate Statement (REBES) and submit it to SSA. Contact your local SSA office, call SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213, or go to www.SSA.gov to obtain a REBES.

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Can I receive partial SSDI benefits?No, you cannot receive partial Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. However, if your condition worsens (to the point where you’re unable to perform work on a full-time basis), you may be eligible for SSDIBack to Top
If I’m disabled, are my children entitled to benefits?If a parent is deceased, retired or disabled, children who are under age 19, not graduated from high school or disabled prior to age 22 are entitled to benefits. The total benefit amount received by a dependent child (or children) is limited to 50 percent of the parent’s monthly Social Security benefit.Back to Top
Am I entitled to Medicare when approved for SSDI?If found disabled and eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance you must wait five months after the established onset date of disability before becoming eligible for cash SSDI benefits. Then, you must wait two years from the date eligible for SSDI benefits before you’re eligible for Medicare benefits. So, Medicare benefits don’t begin until 29 months from the established onset of disability.Back to Top
When I reach retirement age, does my SSDI benefit continue, or do I begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits?At age 65 (or your retirement age), your Social Security Disability Insurance automatically converts to a retirement benefit. You will not notice the change, but the check will no longer be drawn from the Social Security disability trust fund. It will be drawn from the Social Security retirement trust fund.Back to Top
Can SSDI benefits be stopped by SSA?Disability benefits may be stopped if the Social Security Administration proves within its rules that your medical condition has improved and no longer prevents full-time work on a sustained basis.At the time you are awarded disability benefits, a medical re-examination date is established based upon medical condition and expectation of improvement. Those conditions clearly expected to improve are scheduled for review in one year or 18 months. Chronic or progressive conditions are scheduled for review in three or seven years. At the time of review, a continuing disability review is conducted, and an evaluation is made regarding medical improvement.

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If I’m over 65 and receive Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare, can I receive additional benefits if I’m disabled?After age 65 (or later retirement age), you can not draw additional benefits due to disability.Back to Top
Are widow’s benefits available at age 60?Yes, at age 60 a widow is eligible for Social Security benefits without being disabled. A widow must be found disabled between the ages of 50-59 in order to receive disabled widow’s benefits.Back to Top
Will an inheritance affect my SSDI benefits?No, the Social Security Administration does not consider an inheritance “earned income.” So, your Social Security Disability Insurance benefits will not be affected.Back to Top
This information is intended (but not guaranteed) to be correct and current. It is provided solely for informative purposes, and it is not intended to be legal advice and does not create a professional relationship. Each individual situation is different and unique. The information contained here should not be relied on as being applicable to you. An attorney should be contacted for advice specific to your circumstances.