The disability benefits offered under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs can be a lifeline for people living with physical and mental disabilities. Unfortunately, the whole process of applying for these benefits can be overwhelmingly complex. Our legal team at LS Disability can help anyone in California file as complete a claim as possible for the benefits they need to get by. Below are answers to some important questions you will need to ask before you begin the process yourself. To get in touch with one of our attorneys, please call our offices at and we can tell you more.
What does the SSA look at to decide if I am disabled?
Once you submit your claim, the Social Security Administration will work through a five-step process to determine whether your physical or mental impairment meets their specific definition of disability. As part of this process, Social Security will look at the amount of income you earn, the medical documentation you submit, the severity of your impairment and how it affects you, your employment history, and your ability to do other kinds of work. Generally speaking, if you are not able to work because of your physical or mental impairment, you will be considered to be disabled by the SSA.
What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?
There are two main disability benefits programs offered by the Social Security Administration: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Eligibility for the Social Security Disability Insurance program depends in large part on whether you have worked long enough to be “insured” by the SSA. To be “insured” you need to have worked for a specified period of time that is determined by your age and whether you have paid Social Security taxes. The Supplemental Security Income program, on the other hand, is a needs-based program that may be used by people who do not have enough work history to qualify for SSDI. The SSI program is limited to individuals who are dealing with financial troubles.
How can I find out if I am eligible for benefits?
One of the quickest and easiest ways to find out whether you may be eligible for disability benefits is to work through the Social Security Administration’s Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST). After you answer some basic questions—your name and Social Security number will not be needed—the BEST will tell you if you are eligible to claim benefits through Social Security. While the BEST will tell you if you are eligible for benefits under the SSDI or SSI programs, it will not provide you with an estimate of the benefits amount you may be able to claim. You should contact an attorney to learn more if the BEST indicates that you are eligible for benefits.
What do I need to know about applying for disability benefits?
The Social Security Administration will expect that your application is as complete as possible to best make the decision on your case. If there is anything missing from your application, even a minor exclusion, your application may be denied. You’ll need to know exactly what information the SSA will want in your application in order to prevent this. On top of that, you will need to make sure your application is filled out correctly and by the applicable deadline. It can take the SSA anywhere between 3-5 months to make a decision, so it is critical that you get your application right the first time around.
What can a Social Security attorney do to help me?
An attorney will be able to help you make sure that your application is as complete as it can be when you file it with the SSA. Our legal team can help you collect things like medical documentation, work history information, and every other piece of documentation you may need to file your claim. Beyond that, we can help you ensure that your application is filled out correctly and filed on time. Without the help of an attorney, the application processes for the SSDI and SSI programs can be exceedingly complicated. It is absolutely in your best interests to reach out to an attorney who can help you work through every aspect of your application.