Frequently Asked Questions


  • What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons.  To be eligible for a Social Security benefit, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be “insured” for Social Security purposes.  Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers, widow(er)s, or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible.  The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker.

  • What is SSI?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program financed through general revenues.  SSI disability benefits are payable to adults or children who are disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements, and are otherwise eligible.

  • Can I receive Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

You may be able to receive SSI in addition to monthly Social Security benefits, if your Social Security benefit is low enough to qualify. Effective January 2009, the SSI payment for an eligible individual is $674 per month and $1,011 per month for an eligible couple. Generally, the more income you have, the less your SSI benefit will be. If your countable income is over the allowable limit, you cannot receive SSI benefits.

  • How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

The best way to file for benefits is to contact the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.  may schedule an appointment in person at your local Social Security office or arrange for a telephone appointment to file the claim.

  • Do I have to wait a period of time after becoming disabled before I can file for Social Security disability benefits?

You should apply for disability as soon as you become disabled.  If you suffer from a serious illness or sustain an injury that you believe will keep you out of work for a year or more you should file a claim right away.  If your application is approved, your first Social Security disability benefits will be paid for the sixth full month after the date of your disability began.

  • How does Social Security determine if I am disabled?

Social Security gathers your medical records and considers all of your health problems along with your age, education and work experience.  Basically, Social Security is determining whether you are able to do your past work.  If they do decide you are unable to do your past work, they then consider whether there is any other work you can do considering your health problems, age, education and work experience.

  • How long is this process?

Unfortunately, applying for benefits is often a long process.  Generally, it takes about three to five months for a decision after filing an initial application.  If you are denied initially, Reconsideration (first appeal) usually takes another three to five months.  If you are denied at the Reconsideration stage, the second appeal takes place before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR).  Individuals can wait anywhere from twelve to twenty-four months for a hearing date.

  • Do I have to hire an attorney to represent me in my Social Security disability claim?

No.  It is possible to go through all of the levels of review on your own.  Many people, though, welcome the assistance when it comes to navigating the sometimes complicated appeals process. Statistically, claimants who are represented by an attorney have a better chance of winning benefits than those who go unrepresented.

  • What can I expect at my hearing?

Hearings are rather informal.  There is no jury.  The only people that are likely to be there are the Administrative Law Judge, the claimant, the claimantپfs attorney.  There is no attorney at the hearing representing Social Security trying to get the judge to deny the claim.  It is important to be at the hearing office at least a half hour before the start of the hearing.  You may risk the Administrative Law Judge dismissing your case if you are late.

  • What is the Appeals Council?

The job of the Appeals Council is to review decisions made by Administrative Law Judges.  The Appeals Council is located in Falls Church, VA.  Neither claimant, nor representative appears before the individuals who will be making a decision on the case.  It may take up to a year or longer for the Appeals Council to process and make a decision on the request for review.

  • If I am approved for Social Security Disability benefits, how much will I get?

The final amount you will receive from Social Security depends on multiple factors.  For SSDI, It depends on how much you have worked and earned in the past.  For all types of SSI benefits, there is a base amount that an individual with no other income receives.  Additionally, any other income that an individual has reduces the amount of SSI which an individual can receive on a monthly basis.

  • Can I work and receive benefits at the same time?

You can work while receiving SSDI through a Trial Work Period.  It is possible for you to work for nine consecutive months within the first 60 months and earn a monthly income up to $720.00 and still receive benefits.  When the trial work period ends, though, you cannot receive disability benefits for any month in which you earn more than substantial gainful allowance which at the present is $1000.00.

  • How can I contact an attorney at Wilson & Gillissie, LLC for assistance?

Call us at 216-925-5185 Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.