Elkind & Shea

Quick Contact














Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)



Disability Benefits FAQ Social Security Disability FAQ
FAQ for Choosing a Disability Benefits Attorney


FAQ for Social Security Disability Benefits

Please note that the answers provided to the listed questions are designed to answer simple questions concerning disability benefits. To receive a full explanation concerning your situation, you should consult an experienced attorney. Please feel free to contact us at 301-495-6665 or 1-866-633-3583 for a free, no obligation, phone consultation. You may also e-mail us by info@disabilitybenefitslawfirm.com.


Click on a question below to see the answer.



What are my chances of becoming disabled?

How do I know I qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

What happens to the work quarters for work performed over ten years

Can I qualify for my spouseís disability benefits?

Can I qualify for my parentís disability benefits?

What types of medical benefits are provided by Social Security if I am found disabled?

When should I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

How do I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Is eligibility to disability benefits affected by drug or alcohol dependence?

Am I entitled to partial disability benefits?

Am I entitled to additional disability benefits if I suffer from a severe disability?

Am I entitled to SSD and SSI benefits?

Can I return to work after if I recover even though I have not received an award of disability benefits yet?

Can I return to work after I have been receiving disability benefits?

If I am unable to find a job, will Social Security assist me in finding another job?

What additional factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether I am disabled?

What happens if I have not been able to afford a doctor for treatment?

If I have been denied in the past, should I reapply?

Will the general public have access to any information I provide to the Social Security Administration?

Should I get an attorney?



What are my chances of becoming disabled?
Approximately one out of every four young worker will become disabled over the course of his/her lifetime. This is one of the main purposes for the Social Security program. Social Security provides a safety net by providing cash and medical treatment benefits to assist persons afflicted with a disability.


How do I know I qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
There are two forms of possible benefits for which a person may qualify, Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are based on your work record over the past ten years prior to your becoming disabled. If you worked five of the past ten years before becoming disabled, then you should qualify for SSD benefits. Part-time work is sufficient for you to vest the 20 out of the necessary 40 work quarters to become qualified for benefits.

Each year you should receive a benefits estimate form from the government which will tell you what years you worked, how much money you paid into the system, and your estimated monthly disability benefit.

If you do not qualify for SSD benefits, you may qualify for SSI benefits. These benefits usually pay a smaller monthly benefit and may be reduced by household income attributed to relatives living in the same household as you.

Both types of disability benefits pay additional for minor children residing with you.


What happens to the work quarters for work performed over ten years ago?
These benefits are credited to your Social Security Retirement benefits, which require that you pay a minimum of 40 work quarters (ten years) of at least part-time work in order to receive benefits.


Can I qualify for my spouse’s disability benefits?
If you are a widow or divorced and have not remarried, you may qualify for disability benefits under your spouse’s Social Security account. Where the spouse is deceased, you must make a claim within 7 years of the spouse’s death.


Can I qualify for my parent's disability benefits?
You may qualify for a percentage of your parent’s rate if you are a disabled adult child at least 19 years of age and prove our disability began before you turned 22 years old and is continuing.


What types of medical benefits are provided by Social Security if I am found disabled?
If you are found eligible for SSD, you will receive Medicare benefits two years from your disability onset date. If you are impoverished and unable to perform medical treatment during any interim period, you may qualify for Medicaid benefits until your Medicare becomes effective. Please contact your State Department of Health and Human Services concerning Medicaid eligibility.

If you qualify for SSI benefits, you will become eligible to Medicaid as of your date of disability onset.


When should I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you become injured or ill and have missed work for one year or are expected to miss work for at least one year, then you should apply for benefits at your earliest convenience.


How do I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
You can call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or visit their website at www.ssa.gov. You will need to complete a lengthy application that you should obtain and complete prior to making an appointment with an official at your local district office.

It is best to make an appointment in advance and arrive with your completed application form as well as a photo I.D. and your birth certificate.

If you are unable to travel, Social Security will allow you to do your application over the phone. The officials will complete the form on computer and send you a copy for you to verify and/or correct. You will still need to present your birth certificate. It is best to have a person you know take it to the Social Security district office and not mail it to them so to avoid this important document becoming lost in the mail or at the district office.


Is eligibility to disability benefits affected by drug or alcohol dependence?
Yes. If your disability is a direct result of alcohol or drug abuse that is continuing in nature and reversible if you cease use of these substances, then you will be ineligible to receive benefits under the “Contract with America Advancement Act” signed on 3/29/96. Please note that the use of drugs or alcohol must be the only or primary disability.

For example, a person will not be qualified to benefits if they are using drugs or alcohol that results in psychiatric illness that would not exist but for the use of these substances.

On the other hand, if you suffer from irreversible nerve damage, pancreatitis, or liver damaged from prolonged drug or alcohol use, the fact that you continue to suffer from addiction will not prevent you from receiving disability benefits. Although this is the law, you should expect a lengthy fight to receive benefits based on this type of eligibility.


Am I entitled to partial disability benefits?
No. There are no partial disability benefits available as part of the Social Security disability program. You must qualify as disabled under the program guidelines previously set forth here. (How do I know I qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?)


Am I entitled to additional disability benefits if I suffer from a severe disability?
>No. There are no additional benefits for a severe disability. The monthly amount you receive is based on the amount paid into the system on the account you are claiming or under the schedule of benefits for SSI.


Am I entitled to SSD and SSI benefits?
>If you have paid only a minimum number of quarters into the system so as to qualify for SSD benefits, you may still qualify additional, minimal SSI benefits. You will be limited to $552/month for an individual or $829/month for a couple plus additional sums for minor dependent children. You may also qualify for additional state-based benefits.


Can I return to work after if I recover even though I have not received an award of disability benefits yet?
As long as you were disabled for a period of at least one year, you may receive a closed period of benefits although you have returned to work.


Can I return to work after I have been receiving disability benefits?
The Social Security Administration encourages disabled persons to return to work. Before considering a return to work, you should consult with your treating physician(s) extensively. If you find you are having troubles performing the work, you should cease the employment immediately and again consult with your physician(s) before attempting other, less demanding work. If you return to work successfully for a period greater than six months, you may lose your right to receive benefits. You should contact your attorney, the Social Security Administration, and your physician(s) prior to making this decision.


If I am unable to find a job, will Social Security assist me in finding another job?
No. If you are unable to find work in your field, you should consult your state unemployment office or vocational rehabilitation office to assist you in finding other work or developing new job skills to find other employment.


What additional factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether I am disabled?
Your age, education, and past work experience for the fifteen years prior to your becoming disabled will be taken into consideration in deciding whether you have possible transferable skills which will allow you to perform other, less demanding employment.


What happens if I have not been able to afford a doctor for treatment?
In many cases, the Social Security Administration will send you for a consultative examination. This will be a short and often incomplete examination. Only very simple testing will be undertaken with no sophisticated blood, MRI, CT scan, or similar expensive testing undertaken. For this reason, it is recommended that you first contact your State Department of Health and Human Services to obtain a medical card and receive necessary treatment and testing. After you have receiving treatment and testing, you should ask you treatment providers whether they believe you should apply for disability benefits.

Under the current Social Security law, findings made by your treatment providers who have rendered extended treatment may be given greater weight than the Administration reviewers who commonly make findings which will result in claim denial.


If I have been denied in the past, should I reapply?
Absolutely. You have nothing to lose except the time required to resubmit your application. You may wish to consult an experienced attorney about additional issues such as your claimed date of disability and the possibility of reopening your prior application(s).


Will the general public have access to any information I provide to the Social Security Administration?
No. Information provided to the Social Security Administration is kept private. Any hearing you may have will not be open to the general public.


Should I get an attorney?
The Social Security Administration’s own statistics reveal that individual’s who are represented by an attorney are more successful than those who proceed without attorney representation. The disability process is complicated, confusing and intimidating. This is purposeful as it serves to make potential claimant’s return to work or give up despite their entitlement to disability benefits. For this reason, contacting an experienced Social Security attorney will help you assess your chances and understand the process.
Privacy Policy & Web Site Disclaimer:
We collect only the personal information you provide to us and we do not distribute it to any third parites.  Any legal information offered by Elkind & Shea, The Disability Benefits Law Firm, regarding social security disability benefits, long term disability benefits, short term disability benefits, ERISA, long term care denial and life insurance denial or other legal information offered herein is not formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney client relationship.  All communications with counsel are confidential in accordance with the applicable Rules of Professional Responsibility which require that even consultations without retention are held confidential.