Social Security FAQ

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

The main difference between Social Security Disability (SSD, or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is that SSD is available to workers who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits, while SSI disability benefits are available to low-income individuals who have either never worked or who haven’t earned enough work credits to qualify for SSD.

Who can apply for social security disability benefits?

To qualify for disability in Oregon as an adult, you must prove that you have a medically determinable impairment that is both severe and which limits your ability to engage in substantial and gainful work activity. This level of severity must last for at least one full year. If the individual’s condition has not lasted this long by the time of application, a projection can be made as to whether or not the condition will ultimately meet the duration requirement.

The severity of an individual’s condition is typically proven through an examination of their medical records, as well as through information that is obtained regarding their history of work.

Why and when should I hire an attorney?

We encourage people to contact us with questions about the application process because we believe you should understand the process from the beginning. We can assist you by providing information about how to apply and about medical, financial, and vocational resources in the community. We can assist you by helping you to navigate the Social Security bureaucracy, to keep track of deadlines, and to make sure that your rights are protected from the beginning.

What are the medical conditions covered by social security disability?
  • Musculoskeletal problems, such as back conditions and other dysfunctions of the joints and bones
  • Senses and speech issues, such as vision and hearing loss
  • Respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and cystic fibrosis
  • Cardiovascular conditions, such as chronic heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • Digestive tract problems, such as liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy,
  • Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy
  • Blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease or hemophilia
  • Mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, or intellectual disability
  • Immune system disorders, such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and kidney diseas
What does a typical timeline look like for a disability case?

The initial determination by the Social Security Administration will probably take three to four months. If you are turned down, you will receive a document entitled “Notice of Disapproved Claim.”

You can request reconsideration of this notice and that will take another three to four months. If you are turned down again, you will receive a document entitled “Notice of Reconsideration.” At this point, you can request a hearing and that may take as long as 18 months to get the hearing scheduled.

We will do everything we can to get the case prepared to make sure that there are no delays after the hearing date is set.

What happens if my claim for benefits is denied?

If you file a claim, and that claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the denial and have the State of Oregon review the decision.

How long does an appeal take?

The length of time a Social Security disability appeal takes is most affected by the appeal level of the disability claim.

If an individual is appealing their initial disability decision, they will have to file a reconsideration appeal. Reconsiderations are a mirror image of the disability determination process at the application level. There is essentially no difference between the two stages other than the fact that a different person works on the claim.

Generally, a reconsideration appeal decision does not take as long as an initial disability claim decision. Initial claims or disability applications are generally quoted as requiring 90-120 days in order for Social Security to reach a decision. Reconsiderations often take considerably less time than this and it is not unusual for a reconsideration appeal decision to be made within 30 days.

What happens if my claim is denied on reconsideration?

Receiving a denial at the reconsideration stage isn’t at all uncommon. In fact, only about 24 percent of disability applicants are approved when the SSA takes a second look at their claims. Unfortunately, this means chances are high that you’ll have to proceed to the appeals stage if you plan to continue to try to get benefits.

Although denials can happen for a range of reasons, the most common by far is the lack of medical evidence proving disability.

If I am approved, how far back will my benefits go?

Social Security disability applicants may be eligible for disability benefits for twelve months prior to the date of filing for disability—these are known as retroactive benefits—provided they have been unable to work at a substantial level for at least seventeen months prior to filing.

How long will benefits be paid to me?

Your disability benefits may not last forever unless you are permanently disabled and your medical condition never improves. If your condition improves and you are able to return to work, your benefits will end. Social Security periodically re-evaluates your medical condition during continuing disability reviews. In addition, for SSI, Social Security will assess whether you are earning too much income during periodic redeterminations.

Can I receive workers’ comp and social security disability benefits at the same time?

The short answer is yes, you can receive both Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if you qualify for both. They are separate programs. SSDI, which is run by the Social Security Administration (SSA), is a federal program. Workers Compensation programs are run by your home state.

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