Am I eligible for Social Security Disability?
Generally speaking, if you have an illness or injury which makes it impossible for you to work for a year or which is expected to be terminal, you should be able to satisfy the Social Security Administration's definition of a disability. In addition, you must have earned a sufficient number of credits by working at a qualifying job where your wages were subject to the FICA payroll tax. Even if you are qualified, however, there is no guarantee that your claim will be approved.

How much does Social Security Disability pay?
The amount you can receive in SSD benefits is not determined by the severity of your injury, but instead it is tied to your average lifetime earnings. In 2011, the average monthly payment was $1,166, though your own payment may be higher or lower than this amount.

What is the difference between SSD and SSI?
Social Security Disability is essentially a type of disability insurance. It is funded directly by payroll taxes, and it pays benefits to individuals who meet the qualifications and for disability and work history. Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, is a means-tested program which pays benefits to people in need. You may be eligible if you are elderly, blind or disabled, and if your income and financial resources are below a certain threshold. The most recent figures from the SSA state that the average monthly payment for SSI is $516.40.

What if my claim is denied?
The first thing to know is that you are not alone. Of the 2.5 million new applications for SSD every year, approximately two-thirds are denied. Don't worry-this does not necessarily mean that you will not receive benefits. We may be able to help you file an appeal, which begins with requesting reconsideration of your application by a different member of the Disability Determination Services staff. If this fails, we can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. There are two additional stages of appeal, including the Social Security Appeals Council and even taking the case to a federal court.

Do I need an attorney?
You are not required to hire an attorney to represent you in your Social Security Disability claim, but many people who have experience with the system will recommend that you do so. The SSA reports that approximately nine out of ten applicants do have representation. An attorney from Clawson & Clawson, LLP can help you gather the necessary documentation and medical records to support your claim, as well as performing any necessary follow-up and taking actions to expedite your claim. In the event that it is denied, we may still be able to help you obtain benefits by filing an appeal. Lear more about our services and get started on your case now by contacting us for a free consultation!

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