Frequently asked Social Security Disability Questions

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1. What are the requirements for Social Security Disability (SSD)?

Need 20 quarters of work in the last 10 years (or 5 of the last 10 years).

2. What are the requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Need 20 quarters of work in the last 10 years (or 5 of the last 10 years). There are some resource and income limitations.

3. When should I apply for Social Security Disability?

You should apply for Social Security Disability as soon as you and your doctors agree that your disability is going to last a full year. If your condition will not or doesn’t last a full year, you will not be eligible.

4. When should I apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits?

You should apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits as soon as you become disabled. Unlike Social Security Disability, there is no retroactivity, so the sooner you file the better.

5. Are there retroactive benefits for Social Security Disability?

Maybe. Retroactive benefits may go back one year. So if you apply within that year you will not lose benefits. There’s actually a five-month waiting period so you can apply without losing benefits up to 17 months after you stop working.

6. I accidentally applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability (or vise versa). Is there any way to fix that?

It is safest to apply for both programs from the start. A Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application will be considered an application for any program under your Social Security number.

7. How can I apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

Apply at the local Social Security office or online for Social Security Disability (SSD). However, there is no online application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

8. My application for disability and been turned down. How long do I have to appeal?

Usually, 60 day. Appeal in person or by certified mail.

9. I was denied for benefits recently. Should I appeal or just file again?

It’s better to appeal because if you file again, you may not get as much in benefits. However, if there is new medical proof that bolsters your case, you may be better off doing both.

10. How do I know if my case is strong?

When medical evidence is extremely strong, especially with reports by your treating doctors.

11. Is it possible to win Supplemental Security Income and not Social Security Disability (or vise versa)?

Yes. For Social Security Disability (SSD), you must also meet the insured status. If your insured status has expired because you haven’t worked recently, then you can get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you can prove a recent disability.

You can also get disability and not Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if your monthly benefit is too high to be eligible for additional Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

12. How are you reimbursed for representing me?

Representation fee is 25% of the past-due benefits -- but only if successful! In most cases, our fee is capped at $6000. This cap is set by the Commissioner and is subject to change.

13. If I get disability am I be entitled to health insurance?

If you win Social Security Disability, you get Medicare twenty-nine months after your onset date or two years after the first date you were eligible for cash benefits, whichever is later. For Supplemental Security Income, you receive Medicaid (Medical) on the day of application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) or with end-stage renal disease are eligible for Medicaid without delay.

14. What doctor’s evidence should be supplied?

Your doctor should supply a report with a full and complete explanation of your condition including your medical history treatment plans and results, diagnosis and the prognosis. All medical tests have been used, what laboratory findings are consistent with your condition and describe what are your clinical findings and an opinion about its impact on your ability to work. If an emotional condition, he should describe the impact of stress and dealing with the general public or coworkers, and your ability to remember instructions related to your job.

15. How long does it take to get an initial decision?

The amount of time depends on a lot of factors. In most cases in the San Joaquin Valley it’s around 4-6 months.

16. Does getting welfare and food stamps make me ineligible for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income?


17. Do represented people do better than unrepresented people?

Usually, yes. The Social Security process is complicated including deadlines to meet and reports to be obtained. There are often doctors and experts who testify at hearings, and it’s almost impossible to effectively cross-examine them. Robert Ishikawa has over 30 years experience and have represented many like you at hearings.

18. What kind of disability benefits can children receive?

Children under 18 can only receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. But these are much harder to win than an adult case. Children can also receive benefits if an eligible parent is disabled, retired or deceased, usually until they graduate high school or until age 18, whichever is later. However, adults with a very low income history may find that the children do not receive any benefits.

19. How does the government calculate my benefits?

It’s based on your contribution history. The more money you paid in, the more you will get back in Social Security benefits, but it’s not a direct relationship between how much you gave in FICA taxes. This is a Social Security insurance program, not a retirement investment plan so amounts and other factors come into play.