Common Questions and Answers

I am receiving long-term disability (LTD) insurance benefits. Will I automatically qualify for SSDI benefits?

No. Receipt of private LTD benefits does not impact your claim for SSDI benefits. Likewise, if at some point your LTD benefits are terminated, the fact that you no longer receive LTD benefits would not have a negative impact on your SSDI claim.

Can I receive SSDI benefits for my dependent children?

Yes. Children up to 18 (or who have not graduated from high school) are entitled to benefits if you become disabled. Generally, dependent children receive 50% of the amount of your monthly SSDI benefit, which is divided equally among all eligible dependents.

How will my benefits be calculated, i.e., How much will I get?

The average monthly SSDI benefit was about $1,166 in 2015, with a maximum monthly benefit of about $2,639 for an individual and $3,958 for a family. The amount of your monthly benefit is based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security and is reduced if you receive other government benefits, such as worker’s compensation (including Black Lung) or public disability benefits.

When will my monthly benefits begin?

If your application is approved, your first SSDI monthly benefit will be paid for the sixth full month after the date that SSA determined that you became disabled (Disability Onset Date). For example, if SSA finds that your disability began on June 15, 2010, your first monthly benefit would be paid for the month of December 2010. Social Security benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they come due, so the benefit due for December would actually be paid to you in January.

How long will it take to get my first check after I am awarded?

It can take up to 60 days to receive your first check after you have been awarded. Processing time is generally faster at the initial claim and reconsideration levels, while tending to take longer for clients who are awarded at the hearing level. SSA can delay the processing of a claim for many different reasons and will not release any benefits until all necessary documentation is in order. This may include a copy of your birth certificate, citizenship papers, representation payee documents, or proof of other public payments such as state disability or workers’ compensation. We will help you provide these documents to SSA in a timely fashion to avoid unnecessary delays in processing your monthly payments

How long will it take for SSA to process my application?

Unfortunately, the process of applying for and being awarded SSDI benefits can be extremely long. Depending on the number of appeals needed to get your case awarded, the process can take anywhere from six months to three or four years. 

How much will it cost to have The Advocator Group help me?

Our fees are statutorily capped by SSA. Generally, we receive a percentage of your retroactive, lump-sum award, up to a maximum amount established by SSA. Under no circumstances do we receive any portion of your future monthly benefits. Additionally, we only earn a fee if we help you obtain an award, so you can be sure that we are working as hard as we can to get your claim approved. Additionally, there are no hidden fees or costs associated with our services.

If I am awarded SSDI benefits, how long will I continue to receive them?

If you are receiving SSDI benefits and SSA finds that you are no longer disabled, SSA will terminate your benefits. SSA may find that you are no longer disabled if you return to work at Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) ($1,130 per month in 2016, for non-blind individuals). SSA may also find that you are no longer disabled due to medical improvement. If SSA finds that your disability ended due to work at SGA level, its decision is effective in the month shown by the evidence. If SSA finds that your disability ceased due to medical improvement, its decision is effective in the month shown by the evidence or the month that you receive written notice, if later. In either case, SSA will pay your benefits for the month it determines you are no longer disabled and the following two months. These three months are considered a “grace period.”

Your benefits may continue if (1) SSA terminates your disability due to your work at SGA level and then your earnings fall below SGA within the Extended Period of Disability, or (2) SSA terminated your disability due to medical improvement and you are participating in a program of vocational rehabilitation or similar services.

You are required to inform The Advocator Group and/or SSA of changes in your work status, or if your health improves. This is necessary to avoid incurring an overpayment to SSA.

Will SSDI benefits also help me obtain health insurance coverage?

Yes. You will become entitled to health insurance through Medicare 24 months after the date that SSA determines that you first became eligible for SSDI cash benefits. When you become eligible for Medicare, The Advocator Group can assist you with your health plan selection and enrollment process.

What is Supplemental Security Income? Should I apply for that too?

Unlike SSDI, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a welfare program. SSI is a Federal income supplement program that is funded not by Social Security taxes, but by general tax revenues. The program is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled individuals who have little or no income and provides cash benefits to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. If you have limited income and resources, you should also consider applying for SSI.