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Whibbs & Stone, Attorneys at Law

Pensacola Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability

Navigating the process for Social Security Disability benefits can be complicated, confusing and maddeningly frustrating. While every case is different and there is no substitute for personal legal advice, the information below can help to answer some of the basic questions you may have. If you are preparing an application for Social Security Disability, or if your application has been denied, contact Whibbs Stone Barnett for help from a team of experienced SSD benefits attorneys.

How does the Social Security Administration (SSA) calculate my benefits?

Benefits are calculated based on factors such as your age, how much you have paid into the system over the years (number of work credits based on lifetime average earnings), how long you worked and how recently you were working. Depending upon your particular situation, any one of several different formulas could be used to calculate your benefits. The SSA website provides a host of online benefits calculators, but it can be confusing to determine which one applies to you, and the results will be an estimate only.

What is the difference between SSD and SSI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) is like an insurance program. If you become disabled from working, SSDI pays you benefits based upon how much you have worked and how recently. Basically, 15 cents out of every dollar you paid into Social Security while you were working – through the FICA withholding on your paycheck – went to fund the SSDI system.

SSI stands for Supplementary Security Income. Unlike SSD, where eligibility and benefits are based on your work history, SSI is based on financial need. SSI is available to persons who are either blind, disabled or 65 or older with limited income and assets, regardless of whether they have worked or paid into the system through FICA withholding. SSI can help with basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

I’m hoping my disability is only temporary and I will be able to go back to work when I’m better. Can I get SSD until then?

While that would be great news about your injury, unfortunately Social Security Disability only pays benefits on a permanent disability. “Permanent disability” is more of a legal term than a medical one, so you should talk to your lawyer to see whether you meet the SSA definition of being permanently disabled or not. If not, there may still be other sources of compensation available to you, including workers’ compensation or other insurance or disability payments, or you may have a valid personal injury claim if your injury was caused by the negligence of another.

Will I lose my benefits if I try to go back to work, even if it turns out that I can’t do the job?

In general, you cannot work and receive SSD at the same time, because you would not be considered permanently disabled from working. However, you can engage in a trial work period without losing benefits, and if you find you cannot work, then you can continue receiving SSD without an interruption in your benefits. Make sure to talk to your attorney or the SSA before attempting to go back to work so that you follow the proper procedures for a trial work period.

Why do I need a lawyer?

Well over half of all applications for Social Security Disability benefits are initially denied. Many people simply give up when their application is denied because they don’t not know what their options are or because they feel they cannot stand up against the giant government bureaucracy of the SSA. With the help of an experienced SSD lawyer who knows the system, you have a better chance of getting your application accepted in the shortest possible time. If your application is denied, your attorney will know the proper steps to take to appeal the denial. At Whibbs Stone Barnett, we do not give up until we have exhausted every possible avenue to get you the benefits you need and deserve.

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