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Indianapolis Social Security Disability Attorneys Answer Frequently Asked Questions about SSD in Indiana

Following are answers to questions frequently encountered by the Social Security Disability attorneys at Lee Cossell & Feagley, LLP as they help Indiana citizens through the challenging process of obtaining disability benefits under Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. Initial applications for SSDI are often denied, but our lawyers know the process and the steps to take to fight that denial and get you the benefits that you are entitled to. If you have other questions about Social Security Disability, or if your application has been denied, contact Lee Cossell & Feagley, LLP in Indianapolis for assistance.

What does it mean to be “disabled” for Social Security Disability?

For purposes of SSDI, the Social Security Administration considers you disabled if you have a physical or mental condition (or combination of the two) that renders you unable to work or perform substantial gainful activity. Also, you must have a medical condition that is either going to last for at least one year or will eventually result in death. The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step process to determine if you meet their strict definition of disability.

How much can I receive in Social Security Disability benefits?

Benefits are calculated according to several factors, including your age, how long you worked and when, and the number of work credits you have. Work credits are based on earnings and accumulated throughout your lifetime, and your monthly benefit is based on your lifetime average earnings. There are several different formulas that could apply, depending upon your particular situation, and other payments you receive could affect that amount. With more information about your unique circumstances, we can better estimate your benefit level for you.

Is SSDI the same thing as SSI?

No, they are different. SSI stands for Supplementary Security Income and is available to people with disabilities who qualify for benefits based on financial need. SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance and is the benefits program based on your work history and earnings. SSDI is insurance-based in theory, with your “premiums” being withheld from your paycheck and fed into the system. The amount withheld from your paycheck for FICA goes to Social Security, and while most of that money is for retirement, 15 cents of every dollar goes into SSDI to compensate you if you become disabled from working.

I just need some help until I get back on my feet. Can Social Security help me temporarily?

Unfortunately, Social Security Disability is only for people with permanent disabilities. You should contact a lawyer to see whether you meet the definition of disability for Social Security or not. Even if you do not qualify for Social Security Disability payments, you may be entitled to compensation from other sources, such as if your injury was caused by negligence or medical malpractice.

I’m not sure if I can work or not, but I don’t want to lose my benefits by trying to work.

Social Security does allow you to enter a trial work period to see if you are able to work. You can still receive disability benefits during a trial work period. In general, you can earn up to $770 a month and work for nine months in a five-year period and still be considered n a trial work period.

Can children receive Social Security Disability?

Children are generally eligible through Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, if they meet the definition for disability and also qualify based on financial need. Children typically do not get SSDI, however, because they have not contributed any earnings into the system or accumulated any work credits. Adult children may be eligible for SSDI through the earnings records of their parents, if these benefits have not yet expired.

Can a spouse receive SSDI for a deceased spouse?

Social security does provide Survivor’s Benefits based on the earnings record of a deceased spouse. Also, a widow or widower who is 50 years old or older and who becomes disabled within seven years of the death of a spouse may also qualify for SSDI.

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