Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are for steady workers who have paid Social Security taxes in the years before they stopped working due to a disability. Disability for Social Security purposes is defined as the "inability to engage in any substantial, gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continous period of 12 months. The impairment must be severe and prevent the worker from engaging in their past work in the last 15 years or any other full-time work which exists in the national economy. The determination of whether someone is unable to perform their past work or other full-time work includes a consideration of their functional capacity, age, education, and work experience. 20 C.F.R. Section 404.1505(a).
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is a federal welfare program for the disabled, blind and those over 65. The definition of disability for adults is the same definition as is used for Social Security disability. Applicants for SSI must also meet strict income and asset limits and be a United States citizen, with some exceptions. Disability for children (individuals under age 18) also falls under the SSI program. A 3 step evaluation is done to determine whether a child is disabled. First, if a child is engaged in substantial gainful activity (i.e., working), he or she is not disabled. Second, the child's impairments must be severe. Finally, the child's impairments must either meet, medically equal, or functionally equal in severity a listed impairment contained in the Listing of Impairments. 20 C.F.R. Section 416.924(a)-(d).
Most initial applications for SSDI and SSI benefits are denied. The good news is that most applicants ultimately receive benefits if they keep fighting. Having an attorney for the initial application period can be helpful. A failure to include necessary information in you application could cause a lengthy delay in the processing of your application. Moreover, since most initial applications are denied, a lawyer may be able to improve your chances of success with your initial application. If you would like to apply yourself, Social Security provides all the information you need to apply for disability on their website. CLICK HERE to collect the required information and begin the application process.
Every Social Security disability case is different but this will provide you with a general timeline of the process:
Appeals Council Level
Federal District Court Level
Circuit Court Of Appeals level