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Social Security Disability FAQs

Social Security Disability FAQs

Get answers to commonly asked questions about qualifying, appealing and applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in Michigan. For more information, contact us, free of charge.

What is Social Security Disability (SSD)?

Social Security Disability is a Federal program created to help people with illnesses or injuries which prevent them from working.

What is Supplemental Security Income?

SSI is a Federal program created to help people with illness or injury which prevent them from working.

What is the difference between SSD and SSI?

Social Security disability requires that the disabled person has paid into the disability program through payroll deductions.  SSI is strictly a needs and asset-based program.  Both programs require that the applicant either be unable to work for at least a year or be expected to be off work for at least a year.

Are Children Eligible for Either Social Security Disability or SSI?

Children under 18 are only eligible for SSI.  Therefore, the assets and resources of parents determine if benefits will be paid.  At age 18, individuals no longer have their parent’s resources attributed to them.

Do I have to Be of Retirement Age to Collect Social Security Disability or SSI?

No. Social Security Disability and SSI benefits are available to all persons who qualify because of disability, regardless of age.  For SSI, the individual must meet both disability and resource requirements.

Who can receive Social Security Disability benefits?

These disability benefits are designed for people who are unable to work because of a mental or physical condition that will last for more than twelve months or is expected to result in death. Depending on the situation, certain family members of disabled workers may also qualify for benefits, such as spouses and single children.

Do I have to be Totally Disabled to Collect Social Security Disability or SSI?

No. The disability requirement of both the SSD and SSI programs take into account the individual’s age, education, work experience and skill level in determining disability.

Do I have to Exhaust All State Disability Benefits Before I can Apply for Federal Social Security Disability or SSI?

No. You can and should apply for SSD/SSI the day you become unable to work. You do not have to wait for any State programs to expire before you apply.

Can I Apply for Social Security Disability or SSI While I am Working?

If you are working and engaging in “substantial gainful activity,” you are not eligible for SSD/SSI.  The general rule is that a claimant is engaging in substantial gainful activity if he is working and earning a certain amount each month.  

Can I Apply for Social Security Disability if I am Receiving Accumulated Sick Pay, Vacation Pay or Wage Continuation?

Yes. Since individuals who receive such pay are not performing work for these wages, they can apply for SSD benefits. They are not performing substantial gainful activity for their wages.

Does it Matter to Social Security How I Became Disabled?

No.  In deciding whether you are eligible for Social Security Disability, it does not matter how you became disabled.  Whether you were injured because of the negligence of another or your own carelessness is of no concern in deciding whether you are eligible for benefits.  Of course, strokes, heart disease, cancer and other illnesses or diseases are covered under Social Security Disability/SSI.

My claim for Social Security Disability benefits was denied. Now what?

If your claim was initially denied, you may file four total appeals. The first one is a request for reconsideration, which must be made within 60 days of the denial letter. The second appeal is a hearing before an administrative law judge, where you will personally request a reconsideration within 60 days from your second denial.  Your third appeal is a review by the Appeals Council of the administrative law judge’s decision.  The Appeals Council may approve or deny your claim, or it may require another hearing with an administrative judge.  Your fourth and final appeal is filed in federal district court.

If I am Injured at Work, Can I get SSD Benefits and Worker’s Compensation?

If your disability occurred while on the job, you can file for disability benefits under Workers’ Compensation and Social Security, but you are required to notify both agencies. Your disability benefits will likely be reduced if you are also collecting Worker’s Compensation, but you have the right to collect both.

If I have a long-term disability policy can I also get SSD benefits?

Yes. Some employees are provided long term disability policies by their employers. Most of these policies have two important provisions: 1) to keep getting long term disability benefits, the disabled employee must file for SSD benefits; 2) to the extent that Social security disability benefits are paid, benefits under the long term disability policy are reduced.  Specifically, the long term disability policies do not have cost of living adjustments.  Social Security Disability provides for annual cost of living reviews.  This can be a substantial benefit over a long period of time.  Also, SSD is either tax exempt or partially taxable for most people while the long term disability policy is fully taxable if it was purchased by the employer.  After two years on SSD, the claimant becomes entitled to Medicare.

If my health improves enough for me to go back to work, will I lose my disability payments?

The Social Security Administration has implemented a work incentive program to help those who cannot return to employment.  The SSA acknowledges that this is not always as easy as it sounds.  The organization has set up a trial work period of nine months to allow claimants to test their ability to work (while still receiving Social Securing benefits).

Can I get Social Security Disability If I am an Alcoholic or Drug Addict?

Generally, no.  Legislation passed in 1996 eliminated alcoholism and drug addiction as disability impairments.  However, a health problem caused by alcoholism or drug addiction may be considered as disabling.  Health problems caused by drinking or drugs, which remain after discontinuing drinking or drug use are disabling. For example, liver damage caused by drinking or AIDS caused by intravenous drug use, all remain after the conduct is terminated and are considered disabling.

If I am Not a US Citizen, Can I get Social Security Disability or SSI?

If you are lawfully present in the United States, you may file a social security claim for benefits based on your contributions to the social security disability program.  For example, a legal permanent resident who has worked in the United States can file for SSD.  There are separate rules for SSI benefits.  One major rule is that non-citizens are not eligible for SSI benefits unless they were lawfully present in the Unites States as of August 22, 1996 and blind or disabled at any date therefore.  The other major rule is that aliens admitted to the United States as refugees are eligible for SSI, but only for seven years after the date of admission.

Contact Us

If you believe you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, or have any further questions about the application process, do not hesitate to contact an our experienced Social Security disability attorneys today. For a free, no-obligation case review, fill out this form today.


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