Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

A:  Social Security Disability is a government insurance program for workers that workers pay into through taxes on their wages.  SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a government program to provide income to those who are disabled and poor.  (Link to Blog Post on the difference between the two programs.)

Q:  How do I obtain SSI for my child?

A:  In order for a child to obtain SSI the child’s impairments must meet Social Security’s disability criteria and the parents must show that they qualify by income.  The best way to determine whether your child meets the income requirement is to call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 and speak to a representative between 7AM and 7PM Monday through Friday (excluding holidays).

Q:  How do I apply for Social Security Disability benefits?

A:  You can go to your local Social Security office, but it is usually much easier to apply on line at

Q:  What are the eligibility requirements for Social Security benefits?

A:  You must have worked long enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually for 10 years) so that you have enough qualifying quarters.  (Less time is required for younger workers.)  You must also have a medical condition that is so severe that you are unable to work at any job, and is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

Q:  How long does it take to get a decision after I apply for Disability benefits?

A:  The initial decision will usually take 3-5 months.  A reconsideration appeal decision will also take several months.  If your case needs to go to a hearing before an administrative law judge, the backlog to get to a hearing in our local area is usually about 18 months.

Q:  Can children with disabilities get Social Security benefits?

A:  A child with a disability aged 18 or older may get Social Security benefits when a parent gets retirement or disability benefits. The child also can get benefits if a parent dies. The child’s disability must have begun before age 22.  A minor child who is disabled may qualify for SSI benefits if s/he lives in an indigent household.

Q:  If I qualify for Veteran’s disability benefits, do I also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

A:  Even if you meet the requirements to get veterans’ disability benefits, you may not qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Eligibility for each program is different. For example, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs pays benefits for partial disability. However, Social Security pays disability benefits only to people with impairments which are so severe they prevent any kind of substantial gainful work.

Q:  How can a lawyer help me with my Social Security Disability claim?

A:  A lawyer can ensure you complete the correct application documents, and can assist in obtaining medical and other records so that your impairments are fully documented.  A lawyer will determine which of your medical providers should be asked to provide more information, and might ask Social Security to conduct a consultative exam.  The attorney will decide if the testimony of witnesses is necessary to win your case.  A lawyer can also guide you through the appeals process, and can represent you at a hearing before an administrative law judge.