Social Security disability benefits are available to an individual who has a mental or physical impairment that prevents him or her from working. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits. There are two main types of benefits:
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a benefit available for an individual who is disabled and has low income and few resources. Generally, a disabled individual who does not have sufficient work history to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) will qualify for SSI. In 2017, the SSI benefit is $735 per month. This amount is designed to help meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is similar to Social Security retirement, but is for people who have become disabled prior to retirement age. If a person has sufficient work “credits”, earned by working for a certain period of time during lifetime, the disabled individual can qualify for SSDI. The amount of monthly benefit is calculated based on work history.
Applying for disability can be a lengthy process. After filing an initial application, Social Security will request medical records. Social Security may send the individual for examinations. It can take anywhere from 3-6 months to get a decision depending on how quickly medical records are received and reviewed.
Following a denial, the next step is to appeal the decision with a Request for Reconsideration. At this stage, Social Security will update information, have it reviewed by its doctors, and make a new decision. This can take an additional 3-6 months. It is important to file an appeal; filing a new application starts the whole process over.
Once a case is denied at Reconsideration, the next step is to request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Most cases in Iowa are assigned to the hearing office in West Des Moines. The current wait for a hearing is currently 20 months from the date the hearing is requested, not the date of application.
At the hearing, you can be represented by an experienced attorney who can present your side of the story. You need someone on your side who understands the process and respects you as an individual.