Social Security Disability Applications


Social Security Disability (SSD) is an entitlement program. Similar to an insurance policy, SSD provides benefits to individuals who become disabled, and who have worked and paid into Social Security. Unlike SSD, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need based program, designed for disabled individuals with limited work history, income, and assets.

Do I Qualify for SSD?

To qualify for SSD, you must prove that (1) you are disabled and unable to perform Substantial Gainful Activity, and (2) you have enough recent work credits to be fully insured. Generally, you need to have worked at least five out of the last ten years before the onset of your disability. If you do not have a sufficient recent work history, it is possible you could still be eligible under a spouse or parent's earnings record. 


In order to qualify as “disabled,” you must suffer from a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents you from working and is expected to last for at least 12 months or is expected to result in death.

Do I Qualify for SSI?

Eligibility for SSI is not dependent on work history. Instead, SSI provides assistance to elderly and disabled individuals with limited assets and income. In order to qualify, you must show that you are disabled, unable to work, and have limited income and assets.

The Application Process

Most people who apply for SSD or SSI are denied on initial application. Many Social Security Lawyers will not take a case until the client has had their initial application denied. We are different. We assist clients at every stage of the process, from initial application, to hearing, to appeal. This gives our clients the best chance to get approved for benefits quickly. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the legal definition of Social Security Disability?

A person is considered disabled if he or she has a physical and/or mental impairments that prevents him or her from performing substantial gainful activity (“SGA”), for at least 12 consecutive months or is expected to result in death.

What is Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”)?

SGA is the government’s definition of  “work.” While an individual may be able to engage in work activity while receiving disability benefits, that work activity must remain below SGA. In order to qualify for SSDI, an individual's wages must be below SGA due to their medical impairment(s). SGA, which is adjusted yearly by the Social Security Administration, is currently $1180/month and $1970 for individuals who are blind. 

What is the difference Between SSD and SSI?

Social Security Disability (“SSD”) is, essentially, an insurance policy. SSD is available to claimants who have a sufficient work history, and who have paid into FICA taxes during the time they worked. In the event you become disabled and unable to work, SSD is available to ensure you have continued income. In addition, individuals who qualify for SSD will also be eligible for Medicare.

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is a “safety net” program. SSI benefits are available to low-income claimants whose disability prevents them from engaging in SGA, and who also have a limited number of assets (houses, stocks, investments, etc.). SSI is a good option for claimants with limited or no work history, or claimants who have worked, but didn’t pay into FICA. Successful SSI claimants are also eligible for Medicaid.

How do I qualify for SSI?

An individual applying for SSI must have a severe disability that prevents them from engaging in SGA. If you are single, you must have under $2,000 of  assets (excluding a vehicle and a primary residence). If you are married, you must have less than $3,000 of  assets (excluding a vehicle and a primary residence).

The government will also look at household monthly income and household unearned income (such as pensions and annuities) when determining an individual’s financial eligibility.

Will my spouse's income have anything to do with my case?

For SSD, no, it doesn’t matter how much your spouse makes. For SSI, however, monthly income earned by your spouse may disqualify you from collecting SSI benefits.

How do I get my SSD or SSI Application filed?

Once we have accepted your case, one of our intake specialists will complete your entire Disability application with you. The process takes about an hour. Once the application is finalized, our Firm will electronically file the application with you.

Can I engage in any work activity while pursuing Social Security Disability?

Realistically, many claimants are only able to work a few hours per week due to their medical impairments. As bills pile up, some income is necessary in order to survive. As long as  gross earnings remain below SGA ($1,180/mo in 2018),a claimant will not be considered to be engaging in work activity. 

What role does age play in being awarded SSD Benefits?

The Social Security system is designed to be less onerous for older claimants, particularly those over 50. Older individuals are generally limited in the type of work they are able to do, and  often find it difficult to re-train for a new type of job. With that said, a “younger individual” (someone under 50 years old) can have a very strong case as well. Age is just one factor in the overall review of Social Security claims. 

How long does it take to get an initial decision?

Each state has an agency that is responsible for making the initial medical determination on a disability case. The amount of time depends on what state you are in. Generally, it takes 3-5 months to get a determination. Most people get turned down at the initial application phase. You only have 60 days to appeal the initial denial, which is why it is so important to have a lawyer involved in your case from the beginning.

When can I hire a lawyer to represent me?

You can retain an attorney at any stage of the claims process (prior to filing an initial application, all the way through post-Hearing appeals). 

Ideally, we prefer to work with you from the very beginning—the filing of your application. This helps us ensure you are treated fairly throughout the process.

How is a lawyer paid in a Social Security case?

Attorney fees are set by law.  Our fee is 25% of any past-due benefits we recover for you, capped at $6,000 through Hearing. (Note: The cap is set by the Commissioner of Social Security and is always subject to change.)

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