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Social Security offers an online disability application, applying online for disability benefits offers several advantages, such as: you can start your disability claim immediately, there is no need to wait for an appointment, you can apply from the convenience of your home, or on any computer. You can also avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money.

If you applied for benefits, you can check the Status of Your Application online. Your application status shows the date they received your application, any requests for additional documents, the address of the office processing your application, and if a decision has been made. If you are unable to check your status online, you can call at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; or Contact your local Social Security office.

Yes, you can return to work while receiving Social Security disability benefits. They have special rules to help you get back to work without jeopardizing your initial benefits. You may be able to have a trial work period for nine months to test whether you can work.

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have worked long enough in jobs covered by Social Security (usually 10 years). Then, you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. In general, they pay monthly benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more, or who have a condition expected to end in death. The disability must be so severe the worker cannot work, considering age, education and experience. If you think you may be eligible to receive disability benefits and would like to apply, you can use the online application.

When you get a pension from work not covered by Social Security, they may figure your Social Security benefits using a different formula. This lowers your Social Security benefit. They do this whether your pension comes from work you did for a U.S. government agency or in a foreign country.

You can get your personal Social Security Statement online by using your “My Social Security” account. Your online Statement gives you secure and convenient access to your earnings records. It also shows estimates for retirement, disability and survivor’s benefits.

Social Security disability benefits automatically change to retirement benefits when disability beneficiaries become full retirement age. The law does not allow a person to receive both retirement and disability benefits on one earnings record at the same time.

The process to get Social Security disability can last up to 2 years. You first have the initial application stage-which can last from 4-6 months. At this time you file your application for the first time; Social security gathers your medical records and analyzes them. They are likely to send you questionnaires about how you function on a daily basis and possibly send you to their doctors for an evaluation.

If you are denied at the initial stage you enter what is called the Request for Reconsideration stage. Once again, Social Security collects and analyzes medical records. This stage can last from 1-5 months.

If you are denied again at the Request for reconsideration stage then the third stage will be entered. The third stage is called the Request for hearing by administrative law judge. At this point your case transfers to the hearing office and you must wait to have a hearing scheduled. This process can take 12-15 months.

The time frames for all stages can vary depending on: the nature of your disability, how quickly they can get your medical evidence from your doctor or other medical sources, whether it is necessary to send you for a medical examination, and whether they review your application for quality purposes.

The two programs are financed differently. Employment taxes primarily finance Social Security retirement, survivors and disability insurance benefits. Generally, they pay Social Security benefits to eligible workers and their families, based on the worker’s earnings. Meanwhile, general taxes fund the SSI program, which serves the needy. SSI eligibility depends largely on limited income and resources.

Social Security has special rules so they can provide benefits quickly to people whose medical conditions are so serious that they obviously meet disability standards.

They use your total yearly earnings to figure your Social Security credits. The amount needed for a credit in 2014 is $1,200. You can earn a maximum of four credits for any year. The amount needed to earn one credit increases automatically each year when average wages increase. You must earn a certain number of credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. The number of credits you need depends on your age when you apply and the type of benefit application.

If you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, there is a five-month waiting period before they can begin your benefits. They will pay your first benefit for the sixth full month after the date they find your disability began.

The term “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) is used to describe a level of work activity and earnings. Work is “substantial” if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. If you earn more than a certain amount and are doing productive work, they generally consider that you are engaging in substantial gainful activity. You would not be eligible for disability benefits.

Social Security does not count unemployment benefits as earnings. They do not affect retirement benefits. However, income from Social Security may reduce your unemployment compensation. Contact your state unemployment office for information on how your state applies the reduction.

They may pay Social Security disability benefits for as many as 12 months before you apply if they find you had disability during that time and you meet all of the other requirements.

A child with a disability age 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.

You should have received a “Re-entry Number” when you started the application before. You will need the “Re-entry Number” to get back into your application.

Follow these steps to return to your application:

1) Go back to the online application by using this link: Return to a Saved Application

2) On the first page of the application, click on “Return to Saved Application Process.”

3) Enter your “Re-entry Number” and Social Security number. You will be able to continue completing your application.

If you know someone receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which need assistance managing their payments, you should contact your local Social Security office about becoming their representative payee.

The Ticket to Work Program can help Social Security beneficiaries go to work, get a good job that may lead to a career, save more money, and become financially independent, all while they keep their health coverage. Ticket to Work is a free and voluntary program that gives beneficiaries real choices that can help them create and lead better lives. Individuals who receive Social Security benefits because of a disability probably already qualify for the program.

If you get either workers’ compensation or public disability benefit payments, they may reduce Social Security benefits for you and your family. Workers get workers’ compensation benefit payments because of job-related injuries or illnesses. Federal or state workers’ compensation agencies, employers or insurance companies pay workers’ compensation on behalf of employers. Public disability benefit payments paid under a federal, state or local government law may affect your Social Security benefit. This includes civil service disability benefits, temporary state disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits based on disability. Disability payments from private sources, such as a private pension or insurance benefits, do not affect your Social Security disability benefits. They reduce the Social Security disability benefits you and your family get if the combined total amount, plus your workers’ compensation payment, plus any public disability payment you get, exceeds 80 percent of your average earnings before you became injured or ill.

When they make a decision on your application, they will send you a letter explaining the decision. If you do not agree with the decision, you can appeal. That is, you can ask them to look at your case again. You must appeal within 60 days from the date you got their decision letter. You can: File a disability appeal online; or Visit your local Social Security office.

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. See Social Security Protection If You Become Disabled for more information.

This program expedites processing of disability claims of current military service members or veterans disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001.

You should update Social Security with; new phone numbers, new addresses, income changes, new doctors along with dates you went to this new doctor, new specialists, and any ER/Hospital visits that you have during the process of applying for benefits. Send discharge paperwork from recent hospital visits/doctor visits to your Social Security analyst.

For a Social Security disability (or SSI) case, medical evidence takes many forms, including physician examination and treatment notes, mental health records, bloodwork panels, and reports of imaging studies (MRI, CAT scan, and X-rays). Timely, accurate, and sufficient medical evidence from your treating doctors can greatly reduce or eliminate the need for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to obtain additional medical evidence, which means you can get a faster determination on your disability claim.

There are a few sources of assistance for those seeking Social Security Disability (SSDI) or SSI benefits based on disability. Claimants in financial distress should contact their local Department of Social Services (DDS) to see what help is available locally. These workers can often point an individual in the right direction, regarding available sources of help and assistance. Other sources of assistance are state temporary disability benefits (in CA, HI, NJ, NY, and RI only), public assistance benefits (a.k.a. welfare), and unemployment benefits, if you were recently fired or laid off. Claimants with equity in their homes may wish to consider the following: refinancing their home payment, refinancing their total debts, or drawing on an equity line of credit while their disability case is pending.

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