Social Security Disability FAQs

disability lawyers in rhode island

At Marasco & Nesselbush, our dedicated and experienced attorneys have helped thousands of clients get the maximum Social Security Disability benefits they deserve.

Our attorneys have represented disabled clients since our firm opened its doors in 1999, and we are ready to help you achieve financial security even if you are too sick or injured to work.

We have also prepared answers to some frequently asked questions about Social Security Disability to help you better understand your legal rights. For answers to specific questions about your individual situation, call or contact us online today for a free consultation and claim review.

Social Security Disability FAQs

What if I do not have medical insurance?

In order to support your claim for disability, we will need medical evidence. We obtain medical evidence from the medical records supplied by your doctors, hospitals and other medical providers. If you do not have medical treatment, we will not have the medical evidence we need to properly document and prove your disability. As you can see, it is extremely important that we obtain medical records or medical evidence. If you do not have health insurance, you may be eligible for Medicaid through the Rhode Island Department of Human Services. Please contact your local Department of Human Services office for guidelines and the application.

South County Regional Family Center (Stedman Center)

4808 Tower Hill Rd.
Suite G1
Wakefield, RI 02879
Tel. (401) 782-4300 or 1-800-862-0222
Fax (401) 782-4316
Block Island, Charlestown, Coventry, E. Greenwich, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, N. Kingstown, Richmond, S. Kingstown, W. Greenwich, Westerly

Newport Regional Family Center

272 Valley Road, Ste 1
Middletown, RI 02842
Tel. (401) 851-2100
Fax (401)851-2105
Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth, Tiverton

Pawtucket Regional Family Center

249 Roosevelt Avenue
Pawtucket, RI 02860
Tel. (401) 721-6600 or 1-800-984-8989
Fax (401) 721-6659
Barrington, Bristol, Central Falls, E. Providence, Pawtucket, Warren

Providence Regional Family Center

206 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI 02907
Tel. (401) 415-8200
Cranston, Johnston, Providence, Scituate

Warwick DHS

195 Buttonwoods Avenue
Warwick, RI 02886
Tel. (401) 736-1400 or 1-800-282-7021
Fax (401) 736-1442 or (401) 736-1443
Warwick, W. Warwick

Woonsocket DHS

450 Clinton Street
Woonsocket, RI 02895
Tel. (401) 235-6200 or 1-800-510-6988
Fax (401)235-6237
Burrillville, Cumberland, Foster, Glocester, Lincoln, N. Providence, N. Smithfield, Smithfield, Woonsocket

HealthSource RI Contact Center

74 Royal Little Drive
Providence, RI 02904
1-855-712-9158

If you do not meet Medicaid income guidelines, you will be able to choose from a variety of medical insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act.  Contact HealthSource RI at 1-855-840-4774 for information about the various plans and potential federal subsidies that will help you pay for medical coverage.

After I apply for SSD benefits, what is the process?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) employs a well-known five-step sequential analysis. Step 1 of the sequential analysis is the question: Are you working? If a claimant is working and earning at a level of “substantial gainful activity,” s/he is, by definition, not disabled. At Step 2 of the sequential analysis, if the claimant is not working, a decision is then made as to whether the claimant has a “severe impairment.” At Step 3, a determination is made as to whether the claimant meets or equals in severity a listed impairment. If s/he does, the claimant will be found disabled. After Step 3 but prior to Step 4, a determination as to the claimant’s “residual functional capacity” is made. Once “residual functional capacity” is established, at Step 4, a determination is made as to whether the claimant can return to her/his “past relevant work.” If the claimant can return to her/his “past relevant work,” unless a GRID rule applies, s/he will be found not disabled. If it is determined at Step 4 that the claimant cannot return to her/his “past relevant work,” at Step 5 a determination is made as to whether the claimant retains the “residual functional capacity” to perform any other type of work which exists in significant numbers in the regional or national economies.

There are many exceptions, exemptions and complications regarding this sequential analysis, so feel free to contact the experienced lawyers at Marasco & Nesselbush with any questions or concerns.

Initial

After Social Security personnel completes the application process, the “initial” application is sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS) to make a disability determination. The DDS claims examiner assembles the claimant’s medical records, with the help of the claimant’s attorney if one is involved, and the case is sent to a DDS reviewing physician for a disability determination. A Notice of Initial Determination is then sent to the claimant.

Reconsideration

If denied, the claimant then has the right to file a “Request for Reconsideration.” The file will then be returned to DDS to a new claims examiner for additional development of the medical record, if necessary, and for a second disability determination by different DDS reviewing physicians. A Notice of Reconsideration is then sent to the claimant.

Hearing

If denied again at the reconsideration level, the claimant then has the right to Request a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. The average delay from the filing of a Request for Hearing to the scheduling of the hearing varies but currently is approximately 12 months at the Providence Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. At the hearing, the ALJ often employs the services of a medical doctor and a vocational expert to provide expert opinion evidence as to the claimant’s medical condition, residual functional capacity, and ability to work, including statistical data regarding the existence and incidence of jobs the claimant could perform, despite his/her impairment. After the hearing is held, the average processing time for the issuance of a decision is anywhere from one to six months.

Appeals Council

If the ALJ issues an Unfavorable Decision, the claimant can file a Request for Review with the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is located in Falls Church, Virginia, and handles all Requests for Review of Unfavorable Decisions (at the hearing level) for the entire country. If Marasco & Nesselbush appeals your case to the Appeals Council, we will write a detailed Memorandum of Law supporting your appeal.

District Court

If the Appeals Council affirms the ALJ’s Unfavorable Decision, the claimant has the right to file a complaint for relief in the United States District Court (USDC) for the district in which s/he resides. If Marasco & Nesselbush feels that an injustice has been done to a client, we will represent you before the United States District Court. Again, Marasco & Nesselbush will write a Memorandum of Law supporting your appeal and your entitlement to disability benefits.

What is the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and SSI disability benefits?

The Social Security Administration is responsible for two major programs that provide benefits based on disability: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is based on prior work under Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Under SSI, payments are made on the basis of financial need.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers and self-employed persons. To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be “insured” for Social Security purposes. Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers, widow(er)s, or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible. The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program financed through general revenues. SSI disability benefits are payable to adults or children who are disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements and are otherwise eligible. The monthly payment varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate, which may be supplemented by the state or decreased by countable income and resources.

How many credits are required to be eligible for disability benefits?

Again, this is an SSDI concept. It does not apply to SSI. The number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on your age at the time you become disabled. Also, the credits must have been earned within a certain time period. Generally, you need 20 credits earned in the last 10 years, ending with the year you become disabled. Generally, you must have worked five out of the last 10 years. Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. For example:

  • A worker who becomes disabled before age 24 needs to have earned six credits in the three-year period ending when disability starts.
  • A worker who becomes disabled between ages 24 and 31 needs to have credits for half the time between age 21 and the time disability starts. If disability starts at age 27, the worker would need credit for three years of work (12 credits) out of the past six years between age 21 and age 27.

What is my full retirement age?

Year of Birth Full Retirement Age
1937 or earlier 65
1938 65 and 2 months
1939 65 and 4 months
1940 65 and 6 months
1941 65 and 8 months
1942 65 and 10 months
1943–1954 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 and later 67

How do I apply for disability benefits?

You can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits online. You cannot apply online for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You can apply for either or both programs (SSDI & SSI) by calling Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, to schedule a telephone appointment. You can also call your local Social Security office to schedule an in-person or telephone appointment. You can also just walk into your local Social Security office without an appointment.

If the local Social Security offices listed on our website are not right for you, you can find the Social Security office nearest you or most convenient to you here. People who are deaf or hearing impaired may call Social Security’s toll-free “TTY” number: 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

After I apply, what is the process?

Introduction:

Social Security Administration employs a well known five step sequential analysis. Step 1 of the sequential analysis is the question: are you working? If a claimant is working and earning at a level of “substantial gainful activity,” s/he is, by definition, not disabled. At Step 2 of the sequential analysis, if the claimant is not working, a decision is then made as to whether the claimant has a “severe impairment.” At Step 3, a determination is made as to whether the claimant meets or equals in severity a listed impairment. If s/he does, the claimant will be found disabled. After Step 3 but prior to Step 4, a determination as to the claimant’s “residual functional capacity” is made. Once “residual functional capacity” is established, at Step 4, a determination is made as to whether the claimant can return to her/his “past relevant work.” If the claimant can return to her/his “past relevant work,” unless a GRID rule applies, s/he will be found not disabled. If it is determined at Step 4 that the claimant cannot return to her/his “past relevant work,” at Step 5 a determination is made as to whether the claimant retains the “residual functional capacity” to perform any other type of work which exists in significant numbers in the regional or national economies.

Initial:

After Social Security personnel completes the application process, the “initial” application is sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS) to make disability determinations. The DDS claims examiner assembles the claimant’s medical records, with the help of the claimant’s attorney if one is involved, and the case is sent to a DDS reviewing physician for a disability determination. A Notice of Initial Determination is then sent to the claimant.

Reconsideration:

If denied, the claimant then has the right to file a “Request for Reconsideration.” The file will then be returned to DDS to a new claims examiner for additional development of the medical record, if necessary, and for a second disability determination by the DDS reviewing physicians. A Notice of Reconsideration is then sent to the claimant.

Hearing:

If denied again at the reconsideration level, the claimant then has the right to Request a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. The average delay from the filing of a Request for Hearing to the scheduling of the hearing varies but currently is approximately sixteen (16) to eighteen (18) months at the Providence Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. At the hearing, the ALJ often employs the services of medical and vocational experts to provide expert opinion evidence as to the claimant’s medical condition, residual functional capacity, and ability to work, including statistical data regarding the existence and incidence of jobs the claimant could perform, despite his/her impairment. After the hearing is held, the average processing time for the issuance of a decision is anywhere from one to six months.

Appeals Council:

If the ALJ issues an Unfavorable Decision, the claimant can file a Request for Review with the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is located in Falls Church, Virginia and handles all Requests for Review of Unfavorable Decisions (at the hearing level) for the entire country. If Marasco & Nesselbush appeals your case to the Appeals Council we will write a detailed Memorandum of Law, supporting your appeal.

District Court:

If the Appeals Council affirms the ALJ’s Unfavorable Decision, the claimant has the right to file a complaint for relief in the United States District Court (USDC) for the district in which s/he resides. Again, Marasco & Nesselbush will always write a Memorandum of Law supporting your appeal.

How does Social Security decide if I am disabled?

After taking your Social Security disability application, either SSDI or SSI, your case will be transferred to an agency called Disability Determination Services (DDS). A DDS Claims Examiner will seek to obtain your medical records, and your case will be reviewed by a DDS doctor who will decide if you meet the criteria to be considered disabled.

To be considered disabled:

  • You must be unable to do the work you did before, and Social Security must decide that you cannot adjust to any other work which exists in the regional or national economy because of your medically determinable physical or mental impairment.
  • Your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

Again, there are many permutations and ways to interpret these general rules, so contact the trusted and experienced attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush.

Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability; however, factors such as your age, education, literacy, and the type of work you did in the past are all factors which impact the decision of whether you will be considered “totally disabled.” For instance, if you did heavy work in the past, but now you are limited to light work, you may be found totally disabled even though you can perform light or sedentary work. For adults, Social Security uses a five-step evaluation process to decide whether you are disabled under Social Security law.

Call Marasco & Nesselbush for more information about the complex analysis of whether you meet Social Security’s criteria for disability.

When should I get an attorney involved?

You can engage legal counsel at any point in the process of applying for Social Security disability. Some claimants want to engage legal counsel as early in the process as possible to ensure that things are done right from the start so as to maximize their chances of winning as soon as possible. Others prefer to wait to see if they can win on their own.

Although Marasco & Nesselbush prefers to be involved from the beginning so we can maximize and optimize your results, there is really no “right answer.” At Marasco & Nesselbush we are happy to represent clients at whatever stage they feel comfortable. However, in our opinion, clients should NOT attend an administrative hearing at the Office of Disability Review and Adjudication without an attorney.

Marasco & Nesselbush is extremely helpful and successful in obtaining Social Security disability benefits for disabled claimants. National statistics show that claimants with legal representation have a substantially greater likelihood of receiving an award of disability benefits than claimants who proceed without an attorney.

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a difficult, daunting and overwhelming process. A missed deadline may mean that you have to start the process over again. A missed deadline or unfavorable decision after your “date last insured” has expired may mean that you are forever precluded from applying again. Do not let this happen to you. Do not be a victim of the system.

Marasco & Nesselbush can and will ease your way during the application and appeal processes. In addition to obtaining your medical records, we at Marasco & Nesselbush have developed effective strategies to obtain important medical opinion evidence to support your disability claim. We will communicate with your physician(s) to obtain helpful medical and legal evidence of your disability. Over the years, we have developed valuable physician questionnaires to enable your doctor(s) to meaningfully and easily support your claim for disability benefits. We will advise you regarding the application process, we will appeal a denial, if any, we will review your case to determine if you qualify for an expedited decision, we will prepare you and accompany you to your hearing before the Administrative Law Judge and, once approved, we will continue to advocate for you until you receive your retroactive and monthly benefits.

Without Marasco & Nesselbush, you may be unnecessarily denied, your case may take longer than it needs to, or you may not receive all the benefits to which you are legally entitled. Do not let any of these things happen to you. Call us for a free consultation. We make a difference.

How much does Marasco & Nesselbush charge to represent me?

We charge no fee unless and until we win your case and obtain Social Security disability benefits for you. When we win, our fee is 25 percent of retroactive benefits. The Social Security Administration will automatically withhold our 25 percent fee, and will send you, the claimant, your remaining 75 percent of your retroactive benefits. You, the claimant, will then begin receiving your full, monthly Social Security disability check(s) each month, into the future, with absolutely no additional fees to Marasco & Nesselbush.

Our fee is a one-time payment, made automatically by the Social Security Administration, of 25 percent of your retroactive benefits. There may also be a cost to obtain medical evidence supporting your claim. Costs for obtaining your medical records are generally low and are different from legal fees for doing the legal work on your case. Marasco & Nesselbush always tries to obtain your medical records or other medical evidence for either no cost or for as low a cost to you as possible.

Does the Social Security Administration withhold past-due benefits to directly pay attorney’s fees?

Yes. Currently, the Social Security Administration (SSA) withholds 25 percent of a claimant’s past due benefits for both SSDI and SSI benefits for direct payment of attorney’s fees. If the attorney and client agree to a fee other than the 25 percent or greater than the amount of past-due benefits, and if SSA authorizes the fee, then the claimant is responsible for paying the difference to the attorney.

This can happen but rarely does. Generally, it happens in cases which involve relatively small amounts of retroactive benefits, and the attorney wants to charge a minimum fee to be adequately compensated. However, although some cases fall outside the norm, the norm is 25 percent and generally our fee is the norm of 25 percent of retroactive benefits.

What is the difference between Social Security disability and SSI disability?

The Social Security Administration is responsible for two major programs that provide benefits based on disability: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) which is based on prior work under Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Under SSI, payments are made on the basis of financial need.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons. To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be “insured” for Social Security purposes. Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers,widow(er)s, or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible. The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program financed through generalrevenues. SSI disability benefits are payable to adults or children who are disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements, and are otherwise eligible. The monthly payment varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate, which may be supplemented by the State or decreased by countable income and resources.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

The SSI program provides monthly income to eligible individuals who are age 65 or older, or are blind or disabled, and have limited income and financial resources. The SSI payment for an eligible individual is approximately $600 per month and $900 per month for an eligible couple. However, the rates change yearly. Current information about the SSI individual and couple’s rates is available at www.ssa.gov.

If you are married, and only one person is eligible, a portion of your spouse’s income may be counted. In addition, your financial resources (savings and assets you own) cannot exceed $2,000 ($3,000 if married). You may be eligible for SSI even if you have never worked in employment covered under Social Security.

Generally, to be eligible for SSI, an individual also must be a resident of the United States and must be a citizen or a noncitizen lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Also, some non-citizens granted a special status by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be eligible.

What are “quarters of coverage” or “credits” and how do I earn them?

This concept applies only to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Quarters of coverage or credits are the “building blocks” Social Security uses to find out whether you have the minimum amount of covered work to qualify for Social Security benefits. If you stop working before you have enough credits to qualify for benefits, your credits will stay on your record. If you return to work later, you can add more credits so that you can qualify. No benefits can be paid if you do not have enough credits.

You can earn up to a maximum of four quarters or credits for each year by working in jobs covered by Social Security or by operating your own business as a self-employed person, as long as you pay tax into the Social Security system.

Starting in 1978, employers report earnings just once a year. Credits are now based on your total wages and self-employment income during the year, no matter when you do the actual work. You might work all year to earn your four credits, or you might earn enough for all four in a much shorter length of time, for example, a month or a couple of months of work.

The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit changes each year. In 2015, you earn one credit for each $1,220 of your earnings. So if you have earned at least $4,880 during the year, you get the maximum four credits.

During your lifetime, you will probably earn more credits than the minimum number you need to be eligible for benefits. If eligible for Social Security benefits, your monthly benefit amount is derived from your average earnings over your working years. (NOTE: You do not earn credits for pension payments or for interest or dividends on savings and investments. You do not pay Social Security tax on that kind of income.)

About your credits for last year and this year. When the Social Security Administration prepares a Social Security Statement at your request, your earnings for last year may not be on record yet and this year’s earnings will not be reported until next year. Therefore, Social Security uses the earnings information you gave them on your request form to assume that you have up to additional eight credits for those years (one to four credits per year, depending on the earnings amount). Social Security uses your latest posted earnings for either last year or the year before to give you these credits. If you do not have any earnings on record for either year, or you do not tell them about your earnings on your request form, SSA does not give you any assumed credits for this period.

How many credits are required to be eligible for disability?

Again, this is an SSDI concept. It does not apply to SSI. The number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on your age at the time you become disabled. Also, the credits must have been earned within a certain time period. Generally, you need 20 credits earned in the last 10 years, ending with the year you become disabled. Generally, you must have worked five out of the last ten years.Younger workers may qualify with fewer credits. For example:

  • A worker who becomes disabled before age 24 needs to have earned six credits in the three-year period ending when disability starts.
  • A worker who becomes disabled between ages 24 and 31 needs to have credits for half the time between age 21 and the time disability starts. If disability starts at age 27, the worker would need credit for three years of work (12 credits)) out of the past six years between age 21 and age 27.

How much will I receive in SSI benefits?

The amount of your SSI benefit depends on where you live. The basic SSI check is the same nationwide. However, many states add money to the basic check. Current information about SSI rates is available on the SSA’s website.

If a state provides a supplement which Social Security includes in the SSI check then your application for SSI in that state includes the state supplement. Following is a list of states that supplement the basic SSI amount with a link to more information about that state:

If you get SSI, you also may be able to get other help from your state or county. For example, you may be able to get Medicaid, food stamps or other social services. For information about the services available in your community, call your local Department of Human Services.

What is a “resource” in the SSI program?

Resources are the things you own such as cash, real estate, personal belongings, bank accounts, stocks and bonds that you can use for your support.

To be eligible for SSI, a person must have $2,000 or less in countable resources. A married couple must have $3,000 or less in countable resources. If you own resources over the SSI limit, you may be able to get SSI benefits while trying to sell the resources.

Not all of your resources count toward the SSI resource limit. For example:

  • The home you live in and the land it’s on do not count.
  • Your personal effects and household goods do not count.
  • Life insurance policies may not count, depending on their value.
  • Your car usually does not count.
  • Burial plots for you and members of your immediate family do not count.
  • Up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and up to $1,500 in burial funds for your spouse may not count.
  • If you are blind or have a disability, some items may not count if you plan to use them to work or earn extra income.

Is it true that a person can own a home and still be eligible for SSI benefits?

Yes, a person who owns a home and lives in that home can be eligible for SSI benefits.

Can I receive Social Security benefits and SSI?

You may be able to receive SSI in addition to monthly SSDI benefits if your SSDI benefit is low.

The amount of your SSI benefit depends on where you live. The basic SSI check is the same nationwide. Current information is available at www.ssa.gov.

Following is a list of all states that supplement the basic SSI amount with a link to more information about that state:

If you get SSI, you also may be able to get other help from your state or county. For example, you may be able to get Medicaid, food stamps or some other social services. For information about the services available in your community, call your local social services department.

Will my Social Security benefits change when I turn full retirement age?

When you reach full retirement age, your Social Security checks will automatically continue, but will be called retirement benefits instead of disability benefits.

What is Your Full Retirement Age?

Year of Birth Full RetirementAge
1937 or earlier 65
1938 65 and 2 months
1939 65 and 4 months
1940 65 and 6 months
1941 65 and 8 months
1942 65 and 10 months
1943–1954 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 and later 67

Do I have to pay income tax on my Social Security benefits?

The answer is “maybe.”

Some people who get Social Security benefits have to pay income taxes on them. This will apply to you only if you have other substantial income in addition to your benefits (for example, wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that you have to report on your tax return). No one pays taxes on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits and some pay on a smaller amount, based on these IRS rules:

  • If you file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your combined income* is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on 50 percent of your Social Security benefits. If your combined income is above $34,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits is subject to income tax.
  • If you file a joint return, you may have to pay taxes on 50 percent of your benefits if you and your spouse have a combined income* that is between $32,000 and $44,000. If your combined income is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your Social Security benefits are subject to income tax.
  • If you are married and file a separate tax return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.

*On your 1040 tax return, your “combined income” is the sum of your adjusted gross income, plus nontaxable interest, plus one-half of your Social Security benefits.

Every January you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099) showing the amount of benefits you received in the previous year. You can use this statement when you complete your federal income tax return to find out if your benefits are subject to tax. Although you’re not required to have federal taxes withheld from your Social Security benefits, you may find it easier than paying quarterly estimated tax payments.

For more information about your taxes, see Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 554, Tax Guide for Seniors, and Publication 915, Social Security Benefits and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits. Both publications have worksheets to help you figure out whether your benefits would be taxable.

You also can call the IRS toll-free number, 1-800-829-3676, to ask for copies of these publications.

Is there a time limit on Social Security disability benefits?

No. Your disability benefits will continue as long as you remain disabled, as long as your medical condition has not improved and as long as you still cannot work. Your case may be reviewed at regular intervals to make sure you are still disabled.

If you are still receiving disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, they will automatically be converted to retirement benefits.

If I go back to work, will I automatically lose my disability benefits?

No, the Social Security Administration has several work incentives that may help you return to work without losing your benefits.

You should, however, report all work activity to the Social Security Administration as that is a requirement and as overpayments or fraud investigations may ensue.

For more information about Social Security’s work incentives you should: call SSA’s toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213; or contact your local Social Security office; or visit SSA’s special “Worksite.”

How do workers’ compensation payments affect my disability benefits?

Disability payments you receive from workers’ compensation and/or another public disability payment may reduce you and your family’s Social Security benefits.

Your Social Security disability benefit will be reduced so that the combined amount of the Social Security benefit you and your family receive, plus your workers’ compensation payment and/or public disability payment, does not exceed 80 percent of your average earnings (in the last 5 years of work prior to becoming disabled. (Note that the unreduced benefit amount is counted for income tax purposes.)

A workers’ compensation payment is one that is made to a worker because of a job-related injury or illness. It may be paid by federal or state workers’ compensation agencies, employers or insurance companies on behalf of employers.

Public disability benefits (PDB) may affect your Social Security benefit. Those benefits in Rhode Island are called Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) benefits. Those benefits are paid under a federal, state or local government law or plan. A PDB is not usually based on a work-related disability. They differ from workers’ compensation benefits because the disability that the worker has may not be job-related. Examples are civil service disability benefits, military disability benefits, state temporary disability benefits, and state or local government retirement benefits which are based on disability.

Do disabled children qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

There are two Social Security disability programs that include disabled children.

Under the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, a child from birth to age 18 may receive monthly payments based on disability or blindness if:

  • He or she has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets the definition of disability for children; and
  • The income and resources of the parents and the child are within the allowed limits.

Under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, an adult child (a person age 18 or older) may receive monthly benefits based on disability or blindness if:

  • He or she has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets the definition of disability for adults; and
  • The disability began before age 22; and
  • The adult child’s parent worked long enough to be insured under Social Security and is receiving retirement or disability benefits or is deceased.

Under both of these programs, the child must not be doing any “substantial” work, and must have a severe medical condition that has lasted or is expected either to last for at least 12 months or to result in death. More information regarding childhood disability benefits is available at www.ssa.gov.

For more information about childhood disability benefits for children with severe disabilities, call Marasco & Nesselbush.

What should I do while my case is pending and I have no money?

You may be eligible to apply for Temporary Disability Insurance. Please contact your local Department of Labor and Training. You also may be eligible for General Public Assistance or “Bridge Funds.” Please contact your local Department of Human Services office.

Rhode Island local offices:

Providence 203 Elmwood Avenue 222-7000
Pawtucket 24 Commerce Street 729-5400
Woonsocket 450 Clinton Avenue 235-6300
South County/Warwick 195 Buttonwoods Avenue 736-6511

Can I collect unemployment while my disability claim is pending?

This is a complex question. Theoretically, one must be ready, willing and able to work to collect unemployment benefits. Accordingly, if you are disabled, theoretically you are not ready, willing and able to work. However, the Providence RI social security attorneys at Marasco & Nesselbush know of some circumstances, mostly using “the grids,” where the receipt of unemployment benefits is not inconsistent with disability. We have strategized some legal arguments which may enable a client to receive unemployment benefits while applying for Social Security disability and which may dissuade a judge from holding your receipt of unemployment benefits against you when deciding your disability case. Call Marasco & Nesselbush if you need legal advice regarding this complex issue.

Can I collect Temporary Disability Insurance while my disability claim is pending?

Absolutely. In fact, if you are eligible for Temporary Disability Insurance benefits, Marasco & Nesselbush recommends that you collect these benefits as they may support and sustain you during the usually long process of applying for and being approved to receive Social Security disability benefits.

Can an attorney help me win my case?

Absolutely.

Marasco & Nesselbush is extremely helpful and successful in obtaining Social Security disability benefits for disabled claimants. National statistics show that claimants with legal representation have a substantially greater likelihood of receiving an award of disability benefits than claimants who proceed without an attorney.

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a difficult, daunting and overwhelming process. A missed deadline may mean that you have to start the process all over again. A missed deadline or unfavorable decision after your “date last insured” has expired may mean that you are forever precluded from applying again. Do not let this happen to you. Do not be a victim of the system.

Marasco & Nesselbush can and will ease your way during the application and appeal processes. We will obtain your medical records and will communicate with your physicians to obtain helpful medical and legal evidence of your disability. We will advise you regarding the application process, we will appeal a denial, if any, we will review your case to determine if you qualify for an expedited decision, we will prepare you and accompany you to your hearing before the Administrative Law Judge and, once awarded, we will continue to advocate for you until you receive your retroactive and monthly benefits. Without Marasco & Nesselbush, you may be unnecessarily denied, your case may take longer than it needs to, or you may not receive all the benefits to which you are legally entitled. Don’t let any of these things happen to you. Call us for a free consultation. We make a difference.