Frequently Asked Questions

What is Social Security Disability?

The Social Security Administration manages two programs that provide income to those who have disabilities:

    • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSDI pays benefits if you have become disabled and, because of your medical condition, can no longer work a steady job. In order for you to be eligible for benefits you must have sufficient work history, and you must have a medical condition that is so severe that you cannot work.

In addition, if you receive disability or retirement benefits, then certain family members may also be eligible to receive benefits.

SSI, unlike Social Security Disability Insurance, does not require work history; rather, to qualify, one must have limited or no income, and few or no assets, and be blind, be at least 65 years of age, or have a medical condition that is so severe that you cannot work. Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance is based on having sufficient work history, and eligibility for Supplemental Security Income is based on financial need.

One may qualify for both programs, or for only one, or for neither. The Social Security Administration may treat an application for one as an application for both, but if you feel you qualify for both then you should apply for both, which you can do by calling the Social Security Administration

One’s eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance also depends on how recent one’s work is. Unless advised otherwise by an attorney, one should generally apply as soon after one becomes disabled as possible.

What kinds of medical conditions qualify?

Any medical condition that is so severe that you are unable to work can qualify as a disability, if it has been that severe or is currently expected to be that severe for at least 1 year. The Social Security Administration has a list of conditions that plays an important role in its decision-making process.

How can I apply for benefits?

You can apply for benefits online, by visiting a Social Security office, or by calling the Social Security Administration. Generally, the best and most convenient way to apply is over the phone, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To establish your eligibility, you should start to gather certain documentation; for example, you may need to provide some form of identification, such as a birth certificate, that will prove your age.
However, you should not delay applying merely because of a lack of documentation. Much of the required documentation can be obtained after you apply. Furthermore, a delay in filing may cause you to lose benefits, particularly if you have not worked recently. If you need assistance in filing, then please contact our firm by calling 1-800-819-8123 or by filling out the convenient form on this page.

Want to know more?

You can reach our office toll-free at (866) 646-0626.

Who decides whether I have a disability

When you apply for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration district office first determines whether you meet the non-medical requirements (that is, sufficient work history for Disability Insurance benefits, or limited income and resources for SSI benefits). If you meet the non-medical criteria, your application is then sent to an agency of your state government, typically known as a “Disability Determination Service.”

As part of the application process, the Social Security Administration should ask you to give the name and address of your doctor and sign a consent form (pdf) for the release of medical records. The Disability Determination Service will review your application and any medical records it is able to obtain on you, and then applies the “five steps of determining disability.” Sometimes, the Disability Determination Service makes an incorrect decision, or makes a decision based on insufficient medical records; if that happens, you can appeal.

Why is there such a long waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) requires a five-month waiting period before benefit payouts will begin. SSDI benefits can be paid after you have been disabled continuously throughout a full five month period. To an applicant, this means disability benefits may start being paid beginning with the sixth full month after the date your disability began. You are not entitled to benefits for any month in the waiting period. However, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) does not require a five-month waiting period.

In both Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income cases, it often takes a long time for the Social Security Administration to decide whether you are disabled or not.

Not finding your question?

You can reach our office toll-free at (866) 646-0626.

If my disability must last a year, do I need to wait one year to apply?

Absolutely not. You should apply for benefits as soon as you become disabled. It generally takes 3-6 months to start receiving disability benefits so applying early is in your best interest. Your disability must be expected to last at least a year in order to qualify for benefits, but you should apply immediately after becoming disabled.

I am partially disabled; am I entitled to partial disability benefits?

No. Social Security pays only for total disability. In order to qualify for any benefits, you must be unable to do the work you did before and be unable to do other work because of your condition. No benefits are paid for short term disabilities expected to last less than one year or for partial disabilities. However, if you are able to work only with special accommodations from your employer, you may still be eligible for benefits. Please call our firm at (866) 646-0626 for more information.

I applied for disability benefits but was denied; is it worth reapplying?

You should appeal. It is estimated that 6 out of 10 initial claims are denied, but you can file a Request for Reconsideration.

Do you still have questions?

You can reach our office toll-free at (866) 646-0626 or you can complete the form below and
one of our representatives will contact you shortly.

Contact Us

You can reach our office toll-free at (866) 646-0626 or you can complete the form below and
one of our representatives will contact you shortly.

Bill Gordon & Associates
Mail Processing Center
P.O. Box 34685
Washington, DC 20043