Who is disabled?
To be considered disabled, you must have a medical condition that lasts 12 months from your date of onset. If you are disabled for only 11 months, you will not be eligible for benefits.
SSA will also consider your age, education and past work in its determination. It does not matter whether you cannot find a job or that you can’t go back to your old job. SSA only considers whether you are able to work at any job on a sustained basis.
Your disability claim is reviewed by a medical expert and by a vocational expert. The medical expert will determine the severity of your disability. The vocational expert considers your age, education, past work, and transferable skills. Usually a person with a medical condition(s) who is over 50, can’t do previous work, is limited to sedentary work, and has no transferable skills, is considered disabled. However, if you are under 50, have a high school education, and have had jobs with transferable skills, you will have a more difficult time with the vocational expert. The VE will assume you can learn to do a variety of other jobs even if there are no jobs available.
The Law Office of Tina Laine specializes in cross examining the expert witnesses and questioning their decisions. Call 714 565‑7855 for a free consultation.
To be considered disabled your medical condition must last 12 months. If your condition is healed in 12 months and you go back to work, you can be awarded a “Closed Period” and receive your retroactive benefits for 7 months – the first five months are exempt. So, even if you’ve gone back to work, you may be eligible for months of retroactive pay.
By law, you can file applications yourself. However, statistics show that you have a better chance of winning your case when you have a lawyer who specializes in SSDI.
How are benefits calculated
Benefits are calculated by the number of years you worked and by the amount you earned each year. To be eligible for Social Security RETIREMENT you must have worked for 40 quarters – 10 years. However, to be eligible for Social Security DISABILITY, you must have worked 5 of the last 10 years. For instance, if you worked for 10 years and earned your 40 quarters, you will be eligible for retirement benefits when you are 65. But if you stopped working and paying your FICAtaxes for five years prior to becoming disabled, you will not be eligible for disability benefits. You have not worked 5 of the last 10 years. You will have to wait until your retirement age to collect any Social Security benefits.
You may contact SSA at 1–800-772‑1213 and ask them to send you a copy of your earnings record which will show you exactly what your benefits are for yourself and any eligible family member.
SSI and SSDI Together
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available for people who have not worked and earned the necessary quarters to be eligible for regular Social Security. They must also have very limited income and less than $2000 in assets. They may own a car and a house. If they qualify for disability, they will receive a meager monthly benefit and will receive Medi-Cal.
Some people who have earned their 40 quarters and have worked 5 of the last ten years my qualify for both SSI and SSDI. They must have earned meager yearly salaries so that their SSDI payments are under the amount paid by SSI. If this is so, they will receive the full amount of SSDIthat they earned, plus they will receive SSI to add up to the SSI maximum. They will qualify for both Medi-Care and Medi-Cal.
When to apply
It is important that your SSDI claim is filed timely. Benefits will be paid only one year retroactively from the onset date plus 5 months exemption. Suppose you are disabled on 1/1/08. You would be eligible for benefits from 6/1/08 – five months from your date of onset. But suppose you don’t contact SSA to apply for benefits until 1/1/10 – or 24 months after your date of onset. Social Security benefits will be paid retroactively from 1/1/09. So you have lost benefits from 6/1/08 to 1/1/09 because you did not file timely.
If you are filing for SSI benefits, the date you call SSA to apply for benefits is considered your onset date. SSI does not pay the one-year retroactive benefits.