Social Security Programs


Types of Social Security Benefits

1Who can receive Social Security disability benefits?

Social Security Disability benefits are for individuals who cannot work as a result of medical or mental issues that lasts one year or even more or that will end in death. Certain members of the family of disabled workers can be entitled to benefits, including husbands and wives or unmarried sons and daughters.

2When should I consider applying?

Normally it takes approximately 12 to 18 months to collect disability benefits, which means you should apply when you first become disabled. It is never too soon to consult Law Offices of Lisa Douglas. If you believe that it is time for you to apply, give us a call at 501-798-0004. We are always very happy to speak with you with regards to the Social Security Disability process. Law Offices of Lisa Douglas prepares your application and helps you gather all the important evidence you’ll need to win your case. Remember: let us deal with the government, after all, you have enough to worry about!

3 Do you qualify for disability?

To Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

To be qualified for Social Security disability benefits, it is important to first been employed by in jobs covered by Social Security. You then will need to have a medical condition that satisfies Social Security’s definition of disability. Generally speaking, SSA pays monthly cash benefits to those who find themselves incapable of work for one year or longer caused by a disability.

Social Security pays disability benefits to you and also certain family members assuming you have worked long enough to qualify and have a medical condition that has stopped you from working or is anticipated to keep you from working for no less than 12 months or result in death

Disability Payments Start After Five Months of Disability

Under what the law states, your payments cannot begin until you have been disabled a minimum of five full months. Payments usually begin with your sixth month of disability.

When Social Security notifies you that you'll be collecting disability benefit payments, the notice explains how much your disability benefit is and when your payments begin.

Review of Disability

What Health Conditions Are eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI? Generally, your disability benefits continue provided that your medical condition hasn't improved so you cannot work. Benefits won't necessarily continue indefinitely. Due to breakthroughs in medical science and rehabilitation techniques, many individuals with disabilities overcome serious accidents and illnesses. The social security administration will study your case periodically to be certain you still are disabled.

Social Security benefits are paid monthly. Generally, the day that you will get your benefit is dependent upon the date of birth of the person on whose job record you receive benefits. For instance, if you receive benefits as a retired or disabled worker, your benefit is determined by your birth date. If you receive benefits as a spouse, your benefit payment date will be determined by your spouse’s birth date.


4How Do you apply for social security disability?

Social Security Application

To sign up for SSI benefits, you can:

Complete the Adult Disability Report or the Child Disability Report online, and schedule a visit to complete the SSI application; or Schedule an appointment with your local office and complete the application process. When you are represented, your attorney or advocate will handle this on your behalf. However, it is not unusual that the social security office could have some unanswered concerns and will need to talk to you exclusively.

Social Security Applications Cannot be Completed Online

Only the Disability Reports may be completed online. The Social Security Administration lacks a web-based application for SSI benefits. You can complete an online Adult Disability Report which is part of the application process. It is important to complete the application process at your nearby office.

To schedule a visit using your local office, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

5What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program that offers a source of income to blind or disabled adults over the age of 65 and above whose existing income is low.

The SSI program is managed by the Social Security Administration; even so the SSA doesn't pay money for this program. The U.S. Treasury General funds carry the expense of Supplemental Security income.

You can apply for SSI and get monthly payments for anyone who is 65 years old or more, blind or disabled, and your earnings are low and you do not possess many assets.

Your income and resources

Income here means the money received as earnings for work done - wages. It includes social security benefits, pensions, food and shelter. Your location influences the SSI that you may be qualified to receive. You may be qualified for SSI having a certain income in one location while the very same income may be judged as sufficient for another location.


Social security excludes the following when computing your earnings for SSI qualification:

  • The first $20 each month from the different types of income accessible to you.
  • The first $65 earned every month and half the amount over $65.
  • SNAP benefits.
  • Shelter extended by non-profit organizations.
  • Home energy assistance.

For married people, a part of the spouse’s income and resources are considered when determining eligibility for SSI. For applications under 18 years old, parental incomes and resources are considered. The income and resources of sponsors are taken into consideration for sponsored non-citizens.

For students, not all wages and scholarships or grants are considered for SSI eligibility.

Items and services that help disabled people to work are not counted by Social Security. As an example, money that you use to purchase a set of crutches or a wheelchair that will help you work will not be counted toward SSI eligibility.

Any portion of a wage that a blind person uses for work purposes is exempt from consideration. For example, money spent by a blind person to travel to and from the work place will not be considered as income.

SSI will exclude a part of the income saved by blind and disabled applicants for the purpose of training and purchasing things necessary for work.

Resources, or things that you own, include property, bank accounts, cash, stocks, and bonds. These are taken into consideration when assessing an applicant’s eligibility for SSI.

Individuals with resources amounting to less than $2,000 may qualify for SSI. For couples, this figure is $3,000. Property owners trying to sell property may qualify for SSI while in the process of selling the property.

As mentioned above, not everything you own is considered in deciding your eligibility toward SSI. Your house and the property on which it stands, life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 and less, your car, burial plots, and a maximum of $1,500 in burial funds for you and the same amount for your spouse are some of the resources that do not count against you when considering eligibility.

While in some situations, even non-citizen residents in the U.S. can qualify for SSI, as a rule of thumb you must be a U.S. citizen living in the United States or the Northern Mariana islands.

6What is social security disability insurance (SSDI)?

Under SSDI, payments for disability are initiated from the sixth month of disability. this means that you need to be disabled for at least five months before the first payment is made. Once initiated, the payments will keep coming for as long as your condition prevents you from working.

The benefits are paid on a monthly basis. The date on which you receive the benefits is derived from the birth date of the person whose work record has been used to compute the benefits. If your work record has been used, then your birth date will be used to determine the day on which you receive the benefits. If you are receiving benefits based on the work record of your spouse, then your spouse’s birth date will be used.

The benefits, factor in the cost of living. Each year the benefit amount is adjusted so that it keeps up with the cost of living. This occurs every January. If the cost of living rises by 5%, the benefit amount too is increased by the same percentage. With the increase you will receive notice explaining how the new figure has been derived.

You become eligible for Medicare after receiving benefits for 24 months. You will be informed about Medicare months before the coverage begins. For certain conditions, your Medicare coverage can begin almost immediately. These conditions include permanent kidney failure that has left you dependent on dialysis or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

7Where to Apply? SSA Offices by Region

If you live in the United States and you want information and directions to the Social Security office that serves your area, just enter your U.S. Postal Service five-digit ZIP code in the Social Security Office Locator and select Locate. You’ll get information about your local Social Security office and other agencies in your area that may be able to help you. See the link below.

Local Social Security Office Search

social security disability law firms free consultation

8 What to Do if Your Social Security Disability Case is Denied?

If you do not agree with the decision that the SSA takes regarding your claim for social security, you can lodge an appeal. The SSA will send you a detailed letter that will explain the reasons for their decision. When you appeal, the Social Security Administration will relook the entire decision. This includes both, parts that went in your favor and those that went against you. If they feel that the decision needs to be reversed, they’ll do it.

To appeal, you have 60 days from the date of receipt of the letter by SSA. The organization assumes that you receive the letter within five days of dispatch. If the case is otherwise, the onus is on you to prove it.

There are four levels of appeal. These include reconsideration, a hearing by an administrative law judge, review by the appeals council, and federal court review.


Reconsideration is a review of your claim from scratch. A person who was not involved in the first decision-making process carries it out. The SSA will take into consideration evidence submitted the first time round and any new evidence that you may provide.

Generally, your presence won't be necessary for the review.


If you are not satisfied with the decision reached by Reconsideration, you can appeal to get a hearing. An administrative law judge who has not took part in the previous two processes will head this hearing. This hearing will likely be held only 75 miles from your residence.

You will be notified by the SSA about the timing and place of the hearing. You may be required by the SSA to send in additional information to back up your claim. You may use the information obtainable in your file to satisfy this requirement.

For the hearing, you need to be ready to respond to questions by the judge, who may also examine any witnesses that you may possibly take with you. Physicians and vocational experts may be expected to weigh in with their thoughts and findings. You or advocate may question the witnesses.

The hearing may be a online video hearing or an in-person hearing. You will be informed about the situation. Video hearings are convenient because the preclude travel and you can get a date for these hearings previously when compared with an in-person hearing. Video hearings are often held even closer to home; this helps bringing a witness along. You should make an effort to participate in the hearing, whether or not it's in-person or via video. Post hearing, the judge comes to a decision that will take into consideration any new information and facts that you might have put forth. The SSA provides you with a letter and a copy of the determination.

Appeals Council

The Appeals Council is your third chance. The Social Security Appeals Council will consider your request for a review. However, there is no guarantee that you'll be given the opportunity to present your case before this council. Your request may be denied if the council feels that the decision taken by the administrative law judge was the right choice. If the request is denied, you'll be given a letter, that will explain the explanations for the denial.

If it feels there's some merit in your request then the case may be reviewed by the council or send it to an administrative law judge for review once again. The decision will be given to you by the reviewing body.

Federal Court

If you’re not satisfied with the decision of the Appeals Council or if the council rejects your request then the federal district court is your last shot at getting social security disability benefits. The letter that you receive from the SSA informing you of the Appeal Council’s determination contains instructions on how to file legal action in the federal court.

9 What is the amount given as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

From January 2013, the Federal SSI payments have been set at $710 monthly for an individual and $1,066 for a couple. Some states make an additional contribution, so that eligible people get more than just the Federally sanctioned amount. State contributions vary with the state and depend upon factors such as income, living arrangements, etc.

10 What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI is short for Supplemental Security Income; this program aims to provide a income source for those 65 years or older, blind, or disabled with limited income and financial resources. Those who never worked within a job covered by Social Security are also qualified to receive SSI.

Eligibility for receiving SSI includes residence in the United States and citizenship. Legally residing non-citizens admitted for permanent residence are also eligible. Non-citizens who've been given special immigration status by the Department of Homeland Security are also eligible.

Income stipulations for receiving SSI benefits declare that your personal savings and assets shouldn't be more than $2,000 if you’re an individual or $3,000 for married couples. Spousal income can be considered for determining eligibility.

11 How Does Employment Affect Supplemental Security Income disability benefits?

The Social Security Administration might use your earnings from work to reach an appropriate benefit amount. The new benefit rates are valid from the beginning of the month that you’re employed. It's the recipient’s responsibility to tell the SSA about the earning status monthly.

SSA does not consider the first $65 that you earn in a month. If you don't have any other income source, then the amount disregarded is $85. For earnings beyond $65 and $85, the SSA deducts $1 for every $2 earned in a month.

To illustrate, this is how SSA would calculate the benefits to be paid for a person with just one income source:

Earnings of $500 in a month would leave $415 for consideration after subtracting $85. $415 is divided by two. The result is $207.5. This is the amount deducted from the SSI benefit. The highest possible monthly SSI income in 2016 is $733. After deducting $207.50 out of this amount, the SSI benefit amount of $525.5 is paid to the eligible person.

The SSA might raise the amount payable to you if you incur costs that assist you with work. These are referred to as impairment-related work expenses. Medicines, screen readers, counseling sessions are examples. Those things are deductible from your expenses if:

  • The items or services have been paid for by you from your own pocket.
  • You will not be reimbursed for these costs.
  • You can submit a proof of payment.
  • The expenses are authorized by the SSA.

    Impairment-related expenses are subtracted from the countable income before it is halved for the purpose of computing the benefit amount.

    Blind individuals are given the benefit of blind-work expenses that include transportation back and forth from the place of work, taxes, visual aids, and cost of attendant care.

    In 2016, an income of $1,130 a month from Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is considered as sufficient for surviving without SSI benefits. The amount is higher for states that supplement federal SSI amounts with their own contribution.

    The cessation of SSI benefits does not mean the end of all aid. You may continue to receive Medicaid if your income is lower than a prescribed level, or if you incur medical and personal attendant expenses. In case, all your SSI benefits are withdrawn, you have twelve months to contact SSA and renew your benefits. This can be done without needing to fill a new form.

  • 12What is the definition of living arrangements for SSI by Social Security?

    Living arrangements consist of owned and rented premises. Institutional stay is also considered a living arrangement.

    For the purpose of SSI, a living arrangement refers to -

    • A place in which the recipient lives.
    • Other people in the household.
    • Contribution by the recipient along with other members to the household expenditures.

    The living arrangement effects the SSI amount an individual receives. By way of example, if the eligible subject receives food and shelter that's compensated for by someone else, then the SSI payment can be decreased to up to a third of the amount.

    13 How does SSA define unearned income for calculating SSI?

    Income that is not derived from a job or business is categorized as unearned income.

    Examples of unearned income include -

    • Food and shelter that you do not pay for, or the amount of money you receive from someone to take care of your food and shelter needs.
    • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.
    • Railroad retirement and railroad unemployment benefits.
    • Annuities, pensions from any federal government or private source, workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance benefits, black lung benefits and Social Security benefits.
    • Prizes, lotto winnings, pay outs and awards, including court-ordered awards.
    • Income from life insurance policies.
    • Gifts and contributions.
    • Income from support and alimony.
    • Cash and assets inherited.
    • Income from real estate given on rent.
    • Union benefits, including strike pay.

    What is the process for applying for Medicaid?

    The state medical assistance office the official resource for the application process for Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at 1-800-633-4227 (TTY, 1-877-486-2048) can provide local contact numbers.

    General information regarding Medicaid

    The state-run Medicaid is a health-insurance program that receives some funding from the Federal Government as well. The intention of Medicaid is to help people meet some or all of their medical expenses. People and families with limited income and resources are eligible for Medicaid. Eligibility criteria also includes blindness, disability, age 65 years and above, children, or family members with dependent children. Medicaid can be used for Medicare premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. Eligibility for Medicaid is determined by the state. You should apply for Medicaid even if you’re uncertain about meeting the selection criteria.

    Medicaid and SSI

    In states where Medicaid is available to individuals eligible for SSI, the SSI application also serves as application for Medicaid. Eligibility for Medicaid and SSI usually begins at the same time. However, in some instances it's also retroactive by up to ninety days.

    The states of Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and the Northern Mariana Islands utilize the same rules to judge eligibility for both Medicaid and SSI. However, a separate application has to be filed for Medicaid.

    The states of Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia have separate eligibility criteria for Medicaid. A separate application must be filed for SSI and Medicaid.


    14 How To Qualify for SSI or SSDI

    The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs is the biggest of numerous Federal programs which provide assistance to people who have disabilities. Although both of these programs are not the same in several ways, both of them are governed by the Social Security Administration and just people who have a disability and meet medical conditions may are eligible for benefits under both program.

    Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and also certain family members if you're “insured,; which means that you worked for enough time and paid Social Security income taxes.

    Supplemental Security Income pays benefits depending on financial need.

    When you apply for either program, the social security administration will gather medical along with other information from you and make a decision if you meet Social Security’s meaning of disability.

    You may start your disability application right away online or schedule an appointment with a local social security office.

    For most disability applicants, the safest and easiest way of filing a disability application will be to contact your local social security office and inform them that you want to apply for disability.

    Once you have notified your local Social Security office that you want to submit an application for disability benefits, a visit will be scheduled for you. This appointment may be carried out face-to-face at the Social Security office, or over the telephone. If you decide to have a phone interview, all the necessary paperwork will be sent by mail to you.

    15 Appealing a Denial of Social Security Benefits?


    You can appeal most disability determinations and judgements social security administration makes about whether you will get supplemental security income (SSI) or if they make adjustments to your disability benefit amount. Meaning you can ask them to review your disability case again.

    When you ask for an appeal, the social security administration will be looking at the overall determination or decision, even those parts which were to your benefit.


    Social Security has established appeals processes for those who don't agree with the determination(s) or decision(s). The levels of appeal are:

    Reconsideration(offered in many States);

    Administrative Law Judge Hearing;
    Appeals Council Review;
    Federal Court.

    Social security calls the determinations they make that you can appeal initial determinations.; These determinations include but aren't limited by:

    • whether or not you are eligible;
    • the amount of your SSI payment; and
    • the fact that you were overpaid and the amount of the overpayment and whether you must repay it.

    You must request an appeal in writing within 60 days of the date you receive your notice. The notice will explain how to appeal. If you file an appeal within 10 days, your SSI disability benefits may continue at the same amount until the social security administration makes a determination on your appeal. The notice will explain if you are qualified to receive ongoing disability benefits.

    Appeal means you're asking the Social Security Administration to consider your case again.

    Reconsideration:If you disagree with the initial decision, you have the right to appeal this decision to the next level, called the reconsideration level. You must ask for this appeal within 60 days from the date of the denial letter.

    Hearing Level:If you are denied at the reconsideration level, then you appeal the decision to the hearing level where you have a formal hearing before an administrative law judge. Again you only have 60 days in which to file your appeal and request a hearing. The Administrative Law Judge may ask that you receive additional testing at the expense of the Social Security Administration. This hearing is recorded and you may obtain a copy of it. Sometime after the hearing, the Judge will send you and your advocate a copy of the opinion letter.

    16 What if I can not afford the health care to acquire the medical records that I need for the social security administration?

    Usually you will find providers locally that provide care at a reduced price or free...

    17 Do I have to wait 1 year to apply for SSI/SSDI?

    No it is best to apply once you become disabled if the condition is predicted to last 1 year or more or it is anticipated to result in death...

    18 I missed the 60 day appeal deadline, do I have to start all over again?

    Not always, if you're able to show that you had a very good reason for missing your appeal deadline, such as being hospitalized...

    19 Tips for Winning Your Social Security Case

    Improve Your Odds for Winning Your Social Security Case

    Tip #1: Don’t be disheartened. If your claim is denied, appeal. Understand that the majority of the initial applications are declined. It may happen to you. If it does, the next phase is to initiate a Request for Reconsideration. Here too, claimants might have to face refusal. Not a problem, file a Request for an Administrative Hearing before a judge. It can be physically demanding and mentally exhausting, but those who don’t stop trying stand a chance of having their claims approved. The long waiting period of one to two years should be used to collect medical documentation that buttresses your claim.

    Tip #2: Answer Social Security Questions honestly. Be accurate in describing your state when asked about your health background. Since the SSA will want to see the medical records from providers that you visit, you must ensure that you give the SSA with accurate contact info. This makes sure that the process proceeds smoothly as well as strengthen your case.

    Tip #3: Gather medical evidence that will help with proving your disability. The significance of having medical evidence to support your case can't be stressed enough. It is important to regularly go to the doctor for health issues linked to the disability. If you cannot pay for routine appointments with a physician then find out about charitable dispensaries and local community organizations which could assist you to.

    Tip #4: Hire a legal professional to appeal a denial. If your initial claim is denied, you should think of taking professional guidance from an legal representative.

    Claimants who aren't approved initially have to appeal. Actually, the bulk of the claimants face rejection and have to take the appeals route. You will improve your chances of approval at a hearing before an administrative law judge if you appear along with a lawyer.

    20 Index of Selected Social Security Terms

    Appeal (Appeal Rights)

    You have a right to appeal against the decision by the SSA with regards to your eligibility for social security or SSI benefits. You'll be able to initiate the appeals process after you have received correspondence from SSA intimating you concerning their decision.

    Application for Benefits

    This is an application that you must finish and sign in order to collect social security benefits, supplemental security income or Medicare.

    Benefit Verification Letter

    The Benefit Verification Letter from Social Security functions as a confirmation for the amount than you will get monthly in benefits and, where applicable, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments. The letter is issued upon request by the recipient of benefits or the authorized representative.


    Social Security pays five types of benefits:

    Retirement Disability Family (dependents) Survivors Medicare

    The retirement, family (dependents), survivor and disability programs pay monthly cash benefits, and Medicare provides medical coverage.

    Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA)

    Social security benefits and SSI payments are subject to yearly raises in amounts so that you can stay up with inflationary rise in living costs expenditures.

    Credits (Social Security Credits)

    Earlier called “Quarters of Coverage”, you accumulate credits while you pay taxes when you’re gainfully employed. These credits impact your eligibility for future social security benefits. You can make as much as four credits each year. On an average, you need 40 credits to qualify for benefits. Young people require fewer credits to achieve the qualification benchmark for disability or survivor benefits.

    Decision Notice (Award Letter or Denial Letter)

    Your application for social security benefits is analyzed and depending on the decision made by the SSA, you'll possibly receive benefits or your claim is denied. An explanatory official letter concerning the decision made is sent to you.

    Direct Deposit

    The customary way of receiving social security benefits and supplemental security income. The money is wired to a bank account, trust company, savings or loan association, brokerage company, or credit union).

    Disability Benefits

    You are a applicant for disability benefits if you -

    Are under full age of retirement Have acquired adequate Social Security credits Have a critical medical condition (physical or mental) which will keep you from doing “substantial” work for a year or longer, or have a condition that will lead to your death Family Benefits (Dependent Benefits)

    Upon eligibility for retirement or disability benefits, these people can receive benefits on your record: Spouse aged at least 62 years or any age but taking care of an entitled child less than age 16 or disabled Unmarried children aged under 18, or aged under 19 and full-time students at elementary or secondary students Children aged 18 or above but disabled prior to age of 22 Ex-spouses age 62 or above

    Health Insurance (Medicare)

    The federal medical insurance program that is intended for -

    Citizens 65 years or older Young disabled people who meet the criteria of the program Those who have undergone dialysis or a transplant because of permanent kidney failure…also known as ESRD (End-Stage Renal Disease)

    Insured Status

    Insured Status implies that you have worked and earned sufficient social security credits to be eligible for retirement or disability benefits or have ensured eligibility for your dependents in a scenario such as your retirement, disability, or death.


    A program run jointly by federal and state agencies; its objective is to help people with medical costs. These programs differ from one state to another. If you qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare, then almost all health costs are covered.

    Protective Filing Date

    The Protective Filing Date is when you first contact the SSA for claiming benefits. It can be used as the application date instead of the day when the SSA receives your signed application.

    Representative Payee

    The SSA appoints a Representative Payee, friend or relative, for beneficiaries who are unable to take care of their financial affairs. They are appointed after strict due diligence and are required to keep detailed records of the SSI deposits, and share the reports with Social Security from time to time.

    Retroactive Benefits (Back Pay)

    These are monthly benefits you may get earlier than the month you apply, provided you meet the requirements.

    Social Security

    Social Security functions on the concept of you paying taxes into the Social Security system while you’re employed. Upon retirement or disability, you, your spouse and dependent children receive a monthly payment that is calculated based on your reported earnings.

    Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

    The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal supplemental income program that is run on funds generated by general tax revenues (social security taxes do not contribute to SSI). Its objective is to help the aged, blind, and disabled with limited income and resources by giving them grants of cash payments each month for meeting basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.

    Survivors Benefits

    Benefits paid to those that survive you in case of your death -

    Widow or widower aged 60 or above, 50 years or above if handicapped, or of any age if responsible for a child aged under 16 or disabled under 22. Children who are not married and below 18 years of age, under 19 but in school, or 18 years and above but handicapped before the age of 22. Parents, if you contributed to half of their support. An ex-spouse could also be eligible for a widow/widower’s benefit on your record. A special one-time lump sum payment of $255 may be made to your spouse or minor children.

    Wage Earner

    Also referred to as the “Number Holder” or “Worker”, the wage earner is the person who is given Social Security credits while employed or wages or earning an income through self-employment.


    Payment paid to an employee for services performed. They can be in cash. Compensations not paid in cash are also considered wages, unless a particular non-cash compensation is not covered by the Social Security Act.

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