Government Benefits

The United States government has enacted two programs aimed at providing assistance to disabled Americans: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both of these programs are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In 2010, SSA awarded a total of 1,740,729 awards to disabled beneficiaries and non-disabled dependents with the average monthly benefit totaling $1,128.90.

In order to qualify for either of these programs, applicants must be deemed totally disabled, as SSA does not pay benefits for partial or short-term disabilities. SSA uses the following criteria to determine whether applicants are totally disabled:

Applicants must be unable to do the work that they did before. Social Security has decided that they cannot adjust to other work because of their medical condition(s). Applicants have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or to result in death.

According to the SSA, a “Medically Determinable Impairment” is a physical or mental impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities, as evidenced by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. A physical or mental impairment must be established by medical evidence such as signs, symptoms and laboratory findings.

The following is a list of conditions that may qualify applicants for benefits. Please contact our office at
1-800-986-0090 for a complete listing and for more information about your condition(s)

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Back Pain
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Chronic Headaches
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Emphysema
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hepatitis C
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Liver and Kidney Disease
  • Lupus
  • Mental Retardation
  • Mood Disorders
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Organic Brain Dysfunction
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Spina Bifida
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

 

Alzheimer's Ankylosing Spondylitis
Anxiety Arthritis
Asthma Back Pain
Bipolar Disorder Cancer
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Chronic Headaches
Congestive Heart Failure Depression
Diabetes Emphysema
Fibromyalgia Hepatitis C
Huntington's Disease Liver and Kidney Disease
Lupus Mental Retardation
Mood Disorders Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
Multiple Sclerosis Muscular Dystrophy
Organic Brain Dysfunction Parkinson’s Disease
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
Rheumatoid Arthritis Schizophrenia
Spina Bifida Traumatic Brain Injury

SSDI v. SSI

SSDI provides income for individuals who become unable to work as a result of a disability. The program provides beneficiaries with income until their condition improves, and guarantees income if their condition does not improve. Once SSDI recipients reach retirement age, their source of income will transition from SSDI to Social Security Retirement Income.

In order to qualify for SSDI, applicants must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. SSDI is funded by payroll taxes — a portion of FICA taxes are set aside for SSDI (as well as Social Security Retirement and Medicare).

SSI is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes), and it pays benefits solely on the basis of financial need. It is designed to help individuals with little or no income who are aged, blind or disabled by providing cash to meet basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.

Benefit Termination

Benefits generally continue for as long as an individual remains disabled. However, Social Security law holds that all disability cases must be reviewed periodically to ensure that individuals receiving benefits continue to meet the disability requirements. Benefits continue unless there is strong proof that an individual’s impairment has medically improved and that he or she is able to return to work.
How often a case is reviewed is contingent upon the severity of the impairment and the likelihood of improvement. When medical improvement is anticipated, cases may be reviewed as soon as six months. When medical improvement is deemed unlikely, cases may only be reviewed every five to seven years.

Services

The Social Security Administration has estimated that the average 20-year-old American worker has a 30% chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age. Disability can result from a variety of factors, from unforeseen accidents to chronic illnesses such as diabetes. As we age, we face an increased risk of becoming disabled due to heart attacks or strokes.

Millions of disabled Americans turn to Social Security each year for help, only to find that the benefits to which they may be entitled are out of reach. The process of securing benefits is fraught with bureaucracy, paperwork, deadlines, and hearings, and it can take years before a decision is rendered.

Citizens Disability can help you beat the odds and receive benefits. Our experienced professionals perform an initial evaluation of your case at no cost to you. The Citizens team has decades of experience litigating Social Security claims to help guide you through the complex rules and regulations standing between you and your benefits. We will complete applications and forms, obtain and analyze medical records, schedule hearings, and file appeals when necessary. We will even accompany you to your hearing.Our representatives are just a phone call away if you have questions or concerns along the way.

Call us today at 1-800-986-0090 or complete the application below for a free evaluation. Remember, there is no fee until you receive your benefits!

 


SSDI Application Process

Applications Exit Process Flow Upon Approval

Initial Application
Level One

7 to 9 Months

Reconsideration
Level Two

6 Months

Hearing
Level Three

16 to 20 Months

Appeals Council Review
Level Four

12 to 18 Months

Federal District Court Review
Level Five

12 to 24 Months

Receiving Your Benefits
Congratulations

Click on each level to learn more.

Initial Application

When will I receive a decision?

7 to 9 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • Citizens representatives work with you to gather all the information necessary to complete the SSDI application process.
  • Once the application is complete, we file the paperwork with your local SSA office.
  • The SSA processes the claim and reviews it to determine whether the applicant meets the eligibility requirements:
  • SSA representatives review your work history to verify that you have met sufficient work credits, citizenship requirements, and/or asset limits.
  • The State Disability Determination Service (DDS) agency performs a medical determination of each applicant’s disability. If necessary, the DDS office may provide additional questionnaires or request a Consultative Exam performed by a doctor of SSA’s choosing and paid for by SSA.

Reconsideration

When will I receive a decision?

6 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • If your initial application was denied, we will file an appeal called a Request for Reconsideration.
  • SSA reviews the original decision and determines whether it was correct under the law.
  • At this stage, it is crucial that you continue to inform us of any changes in your condition and any new medical treatment that you have received. If there is a change in your medical condition, we may ask you to obtain a new Residual Function Capacity (RFC) report from your doctor(s).

Hearing

When will I receive a decision?

16 to 20 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • This is your opportunity to talk to a Judge about your injury or illness and why you cannot work.
  • While we wait for the hearing, you should continue to keep us informed of any new medical treatment or if your condition worsens.
  • At this step in the process, your case is transferred from the local Social Security office to a regional office where hearings are held.
  • You can expect to receive a letter from SSA confirming that the Request for Hearing was filed and that you will receive a notice 75 days before your hearing date. Remember that this does not mean your hearing will be in 75 days — it means SSA will let you know about your hearing 75 days before it is scheduled.
  • Once your hearing is scheduled, you will be put in contact with the advocate who will be representing you at the hearing.
  • You will have an advocate with you at the hearing.
  • Typically, judges want to know about you and the problems you are having. They want to know about your work history for the past 15 years, your educational background, and how your injury, illness, or condition limits your ability to keep a job.
  • When thinking about your limitations, remember that in order to be successful, you do not need to prove that you cannot work at all; rather, you must prove that you cannot keep a job because of your limitations.
  • Having to lay down or rest after exerting yourself, having a lack of energy so severe that you cannot get up in the morning to go to work, or being unable to follow instructions are all factors that will make it impossible to keep a full time job.

What are the results?

  • You will not receive a decision on the day of your hearing.
  • You can expect to receive a written decision from the Judge within six months of the hearing.
  • When you receive that decision, it will say Favorable (you won), Partial Favorable (you won, but did not get everything you asked for), or Unfavorable (you lost).

If your claim is denied at this stage, you have two options:
1) File an appeal to the Appeals Council to review the Judge’s decision.
2) File a new application and begin the process again. Our team will discuss each of these options with you to determine the best course of action.

Appeals Council Review

When will I receive a decision?

12 to 18 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will review the decision to determine whether your claim was adjudicated properly.
  • The Judge will either reverse or confirm the decision of the ALJ, or will remand your case back to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) for further review.

Federal District Court Review

When will I receive a decision?

12 to 24 Months

What happens during this stage?

  • If benefits are denied in Stage 4, applicants can appeal by suing the Social Security Administration in the U.S. District Court.
  • This request for appeal must be filed within 60 days of receiving the decision from the Appeals Council, or you will have to start the application process over.

What are the results?

Once your lawyer files the briefs for this stage, the judge will decide the outcome.
The outcome will be as follows:

  • The judge will uphold the decision of the Appeals Council.
  • The judge will hold your case for additional review by the SSA.
  • The judge will grant you SSDI benefits.

Receiving Your Benefits

When will I receive my benefits?

You may begin to receive benefits as soon as 60 days after SSA has determined that you are disabled.

Will I receive past-due benefits?

You are entitled to benefits after you have been disabled for 5 full months. This means that your benefits will begin on the sixth month after the date you were found disabled by SSA. You may be eligible for past-due benefits, retroactive benefits, or both.

Your eligibility for past-due or retroactive benefits depends on your application date, the date SSA determined that you became disabled, and whether you are insured for disability benefits. In some cases, you may not be entitled to either past-due benefits or retroactive benefits, but you may still be eligible to receive ongoing monthly benefits.

Medicare

You are eligible to receive Medicare after you have received SSDI benefits for 24 months or 29 months after the awarded on set date.

  • Initial Application

    When will I receive a decision?

    7 to 9 Months

    What happens during this stage?

    • Citizens representatives work with you to gather all the information necessary to complete the SSDI application process.

    • Once the application is complete, we file the paperwork with your local SSA office.

  • Reconsideration

    When will I receive a decision?

    6 Months

    What happens during this stage?

    • If your initial application was denied, we will file an appeal called a Request for Reconsideration.

    • SSA reviews the original decision and determines whether it was correct under the law.

    • At this stage, it is crucial that you continue to inform us of any changes in your condition and any new medical treatment that you have received.

    • If there is a change in your medical condition, we may ask you to obtain a new Residual Function Capacity (RFC) report from your doctor(s).

  • Hearing

    When will I receive a decision?

    16 to 20 Months

    What happens during this stage?

    • This is your opportunity to talk to a Judge about your injury or illness and why you cannot work.

    • While we wait for the hearing, you should continue to keep us informed of any new medical treatment or if your condition worsens.

    • At this step in the process, your case is transferred from the local Social Security office to a regional office where hearings are held.

    • You can expect to receive a letter from SSA confirming that the Request for Hearing was filed and that you will receive a notice 75 days before your hearing date. Remember that this does not mean your hearing will be in 75 days — it means SSA will let you know about your hearing 75 days before it is scheduled.

    • Once your hearing is scheduled, you will be put in contact with the advocate who will be representing you at the hearing.

    • You will have an advocate with you at the hearing.

    • Typically, judges want to know about you and the problems you are having. They want to know about your work history for the past 15 years, your educational background, and how your injury, illness, or condition limits your ability to keep a job.

    • When thinking about your limitations, remember that in order to be successful, you do not need to prove that you cannot work at all; rather, you must prove that you cannot keep a job because of your limitations.

    • Having to lay down or rest after exerting yourself, having a lack of energy so severe that you cannot get up in the morning to go to work, or being unable to follow instructions are all factors that will make it impossible to keep a full time job.

    What are the results?

    • You will not receive a decision on the day of your hearing.

    • You can expect to receive a written decision from the Judge within six months of the hearing.

    • When you receive that decision, it will say Favorable (you won), Partial Favorable (you won, but did not get everything you asked for), or Unfavorable (you lost).

    If your claim is denied at this stage, you have two options:
    1) File an appeal to the Appeals Council to review the Judge’s decision.
    2) File a new application and begin the process again. Our team will discuss each of these options with you to determine the best course of action.

  • Appeals Council Review

    When will I receive a decision?

    12 to 18 Months

    What happens during this stage?

    • An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will review the decision to determine whether your claim was adjudicated properly.

    • The Judge will either reverse or confirm the decision of the ALJ, or will remand your case back to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) for further review.

  • Federal District Court Review

    When will I receive a decision?

    12 to 24 Months

    What happens during this stage?

    • If benefits are denied in Stage 4, applicants can appeal by suing the Social Security Administration in the U.S. District Court.

    • This request for appeal must be filed within 60 days of receiving the decision from the Appeals Council, or you will have to start the application process over.

    What are the results?

    Once your lawyer files the briefs for this stage, the judge will decide the outcome. The outcome will be as follows:

    • The judge will uphold the decision of the Appeals Council.

    • The judge will hold your case for additional review by the SSA.

    • The judge will grant you SSDI benefits.

  • Receiving Your Benefits

    Congratulations

    When will I receive my benefits?

    You may begin to receive benefits as soon as 60 days after SSA has determined that you are disabled.

    Will I receive past-due benefits?

    You are entitled to benefits after you have been disabled for 5 full months. This means that your benefits will begin on the sixth month after the date you were found disabled by SSA. You may be eligible for past-due benefits, retroactive benefits, or both.

    Your eligibility for past-due or retroactive benefits depends on your application date, the date SSA determined that you became disabled, and whether you are insured for disability benefits. In some cases, you may not be entitled to either past-due benefits or retroactive benefits, but you may still be eligible to receive ongoing monthly benefits.

    Medicare

    You are eligible to receive Medicare after you have received SSDI benefits for 24 months or 29 months after the awarded on set date.