SSDI FAQ

Some frequently asked questions by Louisiana residents about social security disability are listed below and provide some of the answers Louisiana social security disability claimants are looking for.  If you have a question not listed here, please call or write your Louisiana Social Security Disability attorney, Loyd J. Bourgeois.

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When can I\When should I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

How does Social Security determine if I qualify for SSDI?

How long does it take for Social Security to make a decision on my SSDI claim?

Do I need a Social Security Disability Lawyer?

If I am approved for SSDI benefits, how much will I get?

If I am approved for SSDI benefits, do I get other benefits?

What is an “onset” date?

How far back will Social Security pay me benefits if I am approved?

How long do SSDI benefits last?

For more SSDI information, read our Social Security Disability blog postings.

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When can I\When should I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

If you expect to be out of work for a year or longer or you have a terminal condition, you should not delay in filing a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. You may file your claim for SSDI benefits as soon as you become disabled. You must prove that your disability will last at least 12 months or is expected to result in death. You do NOT need to wait to apply until after you have already been disabled for 12 months. You can apply for Social Security Disability benefits online (www.ssa.gov) or at your local Social Security Office. See also blog posting: How long do I need to wait to apply for SSDI?
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What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a disability insurance program financed with Social Security taxes. To qualify for SSDI, the worker must earn a certain level of credits based on taxable work. SSDI disability benefits are payable to disabled workers, widows, widowers, and adults disabled since childhood if they are otherwise eligible.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based government assistance program. SSI makes monthly payments to people who are blind, disabled or age 65 or older who have low income and limited resources, meet certain living arrangement requirements, and are otherwise eligible. Disabled or blind children and those who have never worked or whose work history has not earned them enough credits to qualify for SSDI may receive consideration for disability benefits under the SSI program. The Social Security Administration manages the SSI program, but SSI is not paid for by Social Security taxes. SSI is paid for by U.S. Treasury general funds.

For more information, see blog posting: SSI vs SSDI

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How does Social Security determine if I qualify for SSDI?

Under Social Security rules and federal law, in order to qualify for SSDI you must have a total disability that has or is expected to last for at least 12 months (or result in death) and you must have worked enough to be insured under Social Security law. Benefits are not payable for partial disabilities or for a short-term disability.

Social Security defines disability as your inability to do the work you performed before your disability began and the Social Security Administration determines that because of your disability you cannot adjust to other work. Your disability must also last or be expected to last for at least 12 months or to result in death. Back to top

How long does it take for Social Security to make a decision on my SSDI claim?

In Louisiana, the first decision is usually made within four to six months after you initially file for disability benefits. If you are denied at the initial application stage and request a hearing to appeal the decision, Social Security statistics indicate that a final decision will take an average of almost one year in Louisiana to get that decision.  As of June 2010:  the New Orleans Social Security Disability average processing time was 318 days;  the Metairie Social Security Disability average processing time was 382 days;  the Shreveport Social Security Disability average processing time was 343 days; and the Alexandria Social Security Disability average processing time was 348 days. For more information, see blog posting: How long does it take to get SSDI benefits after I am approved?
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Do I need a Social Security Disability Lawyer?

I am sure you have heard that you do not need a Louisiana Social Security Disability Lawyer to win your disability case.  Well, you heard right.  Except of course, if you are one of the over 62% (based on the 2009 Social Security Statistical Report) of people who have their social security disability claim denied initially.  The statistics show that once your Louisiana Social Security Disability claim reaches the hearing level (or above), you have a significant increase in the odds of being found disabled.  Why is this?  While I do not know for sure, I suspect it is because this is the stage that Metairie Social Security attorneys (and New Orleans Social Security Attorneys, and other Social Security Attorneys) get involved and help their clients get benefits.  In 2008, at the hearing level or above, greater than 80% of claimants were awarded social security disability benefits.  So while you may not need a Social Security Disability Lawyer, you may want to get one to help you navigate through the system and improve your chances of obtaining benefits. Back to top

If I am approved for SSDI benefits, how much will I get?

SSDI benefit amounts are calculated according to a formula that uses your complete earnings record. The formula allows for yearly increases in the individual benefits in order to reflect adjustments in the cost of living. The amount of your benefits will be based on your average earnings for all of the years you have been working, not just your most recent salary.  The New Orleans Social Security Office, Terrytown Social Security Office, Kenner Social Security Office, or your local Social Security Office can tell you how much your monthly benefit will be if you are found disabled. Back to top

If I am approved for SSDI benefits, do I get other benefits?

An SSDI beneficiary is automatically eligible for Medicare 24 months after the onset date or date they were found to be disabled. Medicare coverage starts in the 25th month of your SSDI entitlement. SSA will automatically send you information approximately 3 months before you are eligible for Medicare.

Social Security disability recipients may be eligible for Food Stamps but must file a separate Food Stamp Program application.  Requirements for eligibility vary.

A Social Security Disability (SSDI) recipient may also qualify for SSI, depending on the amount of your monthly SSDI benefit and your other assets. Back to top

What is an “onset” date?

Your onset date is defined as the first day you are unable to work because of your disability. The onset date may or may not be the same as the date you were diagnosed. Applicants typically use the date they last worked as the date of onset.  However, depending on the circumstances and the medical support the onset date could be after the date last worked.

For more information, see blog posting: The Importance of the Disability Onset Date
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How far back will Social Security pay me benefits if I am approved?

Benefits will not be retroactively paid for more than one year prior to the date of an application for a SSI, SSDI, or Disabled Widower(s) claim. Disabled Adult Child benefits will not be paid retroactively for more than six months prior to the claim. You want to file as soon as possible so that you do not leave any of your hard earned benefits on the table. Back to top

How long do SSDI benefits last?

You will receive Social Security Disability Benefits for as long as you remain disabled under the Social Security laws.  However, if you remain disabled at the normal Social Security Retirement Age, you will be converted over to Retirement Benefits instead of SSDI. Back to top

For more SSDI information, read our Social Security Disability blog postings. If you have a specific question about your case, contact Loyd J. Bourgeois at 888-LJB-4-SSD