Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are Federal benefit programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While both programs involve somewhat different standards regrading eligibility, both are administered by the Social Security Administration. Only those individuals who have a disability and meet specific medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.

Social Security Disability Insurance (also referred to as “DIB”) pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income (also referred to as “SSI”) pays benefits based on financial need.


If you have a question regarding these programs or have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits, call or email us at Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP. We’re here to help you and assist in your claim for benefits.


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Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Social Security Administration (SSA) define the term disability?

Under the Social Security Act, disability has been defined as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

How do I file an application for Social Security disability benefits?

The most common method of applying for your Social Security disability benefits is to visit the closest Social Security office yourself and fill out the application in person. However, sometimes this can be very time consuming as there are often long waits involved. It is helpful to call the office and attempt to schedule an application appointment. Another option is to call the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213 and schedule a telephone interview. You can also apply online at

I think I have a valid disability but I have money in my bank account. Will these assets prohibit me from applying for Social Security disability benefits?

No. If you have worked in recent years and have had sufficient earnings in 20 of the previous 40 calendar quarters, the amount of assets you possess (including bank accounts) has no bearing on your application for Social Security Disability benefits. However, the amount of assets or resources you possess will be considered in a claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. In SSI claims, resources that will be considered in determining eligibility include bank accounts, stocks, life insurance, U.S. savings bonds, and other personal property. The limit for countable resources in a SSI claim is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.

How does Social Security make a decision as to whether I’m disabled?

Social Security will gather your medical records and make a determination based upon all of your health problems. Your age, education, and work experience will also be considered. An assessment will be made as to whether you are able to do your past work. If Social Security determines that you cannot perform your past relevant work, they will then decide whether there is any other work which you can perform considering your health problems, your age, your education, and your work experience.

Who makes the decision as to whether I’m disabled?

When you file your S.S. disability claim application, it is forwarded to a disability examiner at the Disability Determination agency in your state. This examiner works with a medical doctor and will make the initial determination on the claim. If the initial application is denied and the individual requests reconsideration, the case is then sent to another disability examiner at the Disability Determination agency and the same process is followed. If a claim is denied at reconsideration, you may then request a hearing. The case will be sent to an Administrative Law Judge who works for the SSA. The Administrative Law Judge will conduct a hearing and render a decision on the claim.

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