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Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Disability

The Social Security Act provides two types of benefits for disabled individuals: Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Disability (SSI).

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability is for individuals who have worked and contributed to the Federal Governments’ Social Security account. This is paid in the form of taxes deducted from your weekly pay check. You earn quarters of coverage based on your tax contribution. To qualify for SSD benefits you must have worked for a long enough period prior to your disability. To meet the required number of quarters, an individual must work five (5) out of the last ten (10) years. Younger workers may also qualify with fewer quarters.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income is a need-based benefit for disabled individuals who are not covered by the SSD program for lack of enough quarters worked. These benefits are determined based on the household income and assets. The standard in determining whether an individual is disabled is the same as the standard set forth for SSD.

When filing for SSD/SSI benefits the applicant must be out of work or expect to be out of work for one year consecutively. Failure to file an application at least twelve (12) months after you stop working may result in receiving less retroactive benefits for the applicant and their dependents. There is a five month waiting period from the date of disablement before an applicant can receive benefits.

Disability Standard

Your disability can be from a work related or non work related injury or illness. To qualify for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income applicants must demonstrate that they are totally disabled from gainful employment. Applicants under 50 years old must prove a total disability from any type of work. Applicants over 50 years old may only have to prove a disability from their past work history. You must prove with medical evidence that a physical or mental impairment {or a combination of both} is severe enough to prevent the ability to perform substantial gainful employment for at least 12 consecutive months. Substantial gainful employment is considered to be any typical paying job in the economy.

- Procedure -

Initial Application

To commence a claim you must file an Application with the local social security district office. Thereafter the application is forwarded to the State Agency for medical development. The majority of applications are denied at the initial level. This is in no way an indication of your true disability status.


If you are denied at the initial level you must file an appeal of this determination within sixty (60) days. The appeal is in the form of a request for a hearing before a Federal Administrative Law Judge. This is when it becomes of the utmost importance that all the medical records are reviewed, updated and prepared for proper submission. It is possible at this stage to receive a favorable decision before the hearing but after the initial denial.


If we do proceed to a hearing before the Federal Administrative Law Judge a clear and concise picture must be present through the applicant’s testimony and the medical evidence in the record. An Administrative Law Judge will not render a decision at the hearing. A written decision will be sent with in approximately six (6) weeks. With a favorable decision benefits usually begin soon thereafter. If the decision is not favorable and appeal to the Appeals Council must be filed within sixty (60) days.

Miller & Caggiano, LLP. Leading, Defending, Compassion