Social Security Enrollment Form Concept

Whether filing an initial application for Social Security disability benefits or challenging a decision that denied your claim, the process can be long and frustrating. You must strictly adhere to complex and confusing federal regulations and Social Security Administration procedures.

Working with an SSD lawyer at Liner Legal Disability Lawyers gives you peace of mind knowing that someone with knowledge of the law and experience with the Social Security system is looking out for you. Here to give you insight into the application process is an overview of what it takes to file for benefits through the Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance programs administered by the Social Security Administration.

How do the SSI and SSDI programs differ?

Although they share a common objective of providing financial assistance for people who are disabled and unable to work, the SSDI and SSI programs are quite different. To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes on your earnings to be insured or covered under the program.

In contrast to SSDI, you need not have worked or earned an income to qualify for benefits through SSI. SSI is a need-based program providing benefits to people with limited income and resources to help them pay for food and shelter. Another difference between the programs is that children who are blind or disabled may apply and qualify for SSI benefits. For children to qualify for SSDI benefits, they must do so through the work history of a parent.

What qualifies as disabled under the SSD definition?

Social Security uses the same strict definition of disability for both the SSI and SSDI programs when evaluating applications submitted by adults. A determination that you have a qualifying disability requires that you meet each of the following requirements:

  • Be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity or SGA.
  • The inability to engage in SGA must be caused by a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments.
  • The impairments must last or be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months or be expected to cause death.

Children younger than 18 years of age who apply for benefits through SSI must meet a different definition for the SSA to approve their application for SSD based on a disability. Instead of using SGA as the basis for the evaluation, a disabled child must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments causing marked and severe functional limitation limitations that must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months.

Social Security applies the same criteria to adults and children whose benefit application is based on being blind. Whether applying for SSI or SSDI, you are blind if your vision when corrected is not better than 20/200 in your better eye. You also meet the criteria as blind the visual field is 20 degrees or less in the better eye and has been that way for at least 12 months or is expected to remain that way for 12 months or longer. Note that the 12-month duration does not apply when seeking benefits through the SSI program.

An SSDI lawyer from our office may have options for individuals with vision problems who may not meet the blindness definition. Impaired vision along with other health issues may allow you to qualify for SSDI as disabled.

How to file Social Security disability claims

You may apply for SSD benefits online provided you are at least 18 years of age, do not currently receive Social Security benefits, and have not had an application denied within the past 60 days. If you do not meet the requirements to file online or wish to use an alternate method, you may file over the phone, through the mail, or in person at a local Social Security Administration field office.

Applications for SSI benefits for children younger than 18 years of age is a two-step process. First, you must complete a Child Disability Report, which gathers information about the disability and what effect it has on the ability of the child to function. The report is completed online along with consent allowing your child’s medical professionals to share information about the disability. Our SSI lawyer can assist you with an application on behalf of a child.

Following submission of the online Child Disability Report, someone from Social Security will contact you within three to five days to go over it. The representation also will discuss income and resources with you to determine if they meet the limits to qualify for SSI.

Get help filing for SSD benefits

Instead of trying to navigate through a difficult process, entrust your application for benefits to a Social Security disability lawyer at Liner Legal Disability Lawyers. Our compassionate team of professionals is here to aggressively pursue the SSI and SSDI benefits that you deserve. We handle everything from application through appeal. Contact us today for a free consultation.