Questions about Applying for Social Security Disability

Am I eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?

This is one of the most common FAQs about Social Security Disability that we see.

If you cannot work because of serious health problems, you may qualify for monthly income and Medicare or Medicaid coverage through Social Security Disability.

Children with disabilities whose families qualify financially may receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Disabled widows or widowers of someone who received benefits can sometimes qualify. And disabled adult children of workers who qualified for Social Security benefits can receive benefits.

How does the Social Security Disability process work?

First you apply for benefits by submitting information about your health problems and work history to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The main requirement is that you are unable to work any job because of your health for at least a year.

Unfortunately, most people get denied when they first apply. But you can appeal the decision in a multi-step process, which includes arguing your case to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Winning benefits means you receive monthly checks to help with your basic expenses. And it qualifies you for Medicare or Medicaid health coverage, depending on the type of benefits you receive.

How do I apply? Can I apply online?

You can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) online by submitting the Social Security Administration (SSA) application forms. You can also apply over the phone or in person at the Social Security office.

The process has become more automated and less personal, which is one reason you may want to work with a disability lawyer.

You cannot apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) online. You will have to apply over the phone or through your local SSA office.

But people in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast know where to get their disability questions answered: “For Generations, We’ve Gone to Greenbaum.”

Contact us for help applying.

What is the difference between SSDI benefits and SSI benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs two different disability benefits programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The main difference is your work history and financial situation.

You may be eligible for SSDI when you have worked a substantial amount and contributed significantly to the SSA system through your paychecks. It is a form of insurance that you paid for, meant to provide financial support if you have to stop working before you reach Social Security retirement age. It pays a monthly benefit based in part on your past income and qualifies you for Medicare health coverage after a waiting period.

You may be eligible for SSI when you do not have significant recent work history and your other financial resources are limited. SSI pays everyone the same monthly amounts, set by the government, based on factors like your marital status. It immediately qualifies you to receive Medicaid health coverage.

Disability lawyers at Greenbaum Breuer & Associates can help you apply for either kind of benefits.

Can I get Social Security Disability and still work?

Only a limited amount. Generally, qualifying for Social Security Disability means you cannot work.

But if you earn less than what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls “substantial gainful activity” you could continue working and receive benefits. Ask your lawyer about your specific situation.

Can I get Social Security Disability along with workers’ compensation benefits or short-term or long-term disability insurance benefits?

Yes, but the amounts you receive from each type of benefit may be reduced.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) says the total amount you can get paid from public disability benefits, including workers’ comp, cannot exceed 80% of your average earnings when you worked. If your benefits go higher with both Social Security benefits and workers’ comp combined, your SSD payments will be reduced to that level.

If you have private, long-term disability insurance coverage, you also can receive Social Security Disability benefits at the same time, which likely will cover you longer but pay less than the private benefits.

The private disability insurance company will probably reduce how much it pays to offset what you get from Social Security Disability so you do not receive more in total than you would have gotten from your private disability policy alone.

Sometimes private insurance companies require you to apply for Social Security Disability.

You can also apply for Social Security Disability and receive private short-term disability benefits.

Social Security Disability is designed for long-term health limitations, though, so you likely will not be approved for government benefits until it is clear that your medical impairments will last longer than the time short-term disability covers.

How long does the process take once I file a Social Security Disability claim?

It can take three to five months to get your initial decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA). If the decision is a denial, however, it can take longer as you appeal.

One of the major steps in appealing is going to a hearing with a disability judge, and recent numbers for Louisiana and Mississippi show it can take a year, on average, to get a hearing date.

When you are eventually awarded benefits, however, you will receive back benefits to cover the time you spent waiting.

Is there a way to get my Social Security Disability benefits faster?

Yes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a program called “compassionate allowances” that speeds up the process of recognizing that your case clearly qualifies for benefits. This is for extremely serious illnesses.

You also can speed up your case in situations of dire economic need, such as the possibility that you’ll become homeless while you’re waiting for benefits.

Ask a lawyer if your situation qualifies for these considerations.

If I win my case, how much money will I receive?

For Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), the size of your monthly check is based on a scale including your earnings before you had to stop working, but it is also capped.

The average SSDI payment was set in 2020 at $1,258 per month. The maximum benefit you could receive was $3,011 per month.

For SSI, the government establishes one amount that applies to everyone, regardless of past income. The amount changes over time. As of 2020, Social Security set the SSI monthly payment at $783 for an individual and $1,175 for a married couple.

Appealing a Social Security Disability Denial

What happens if the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies my claim for Social Security Disability benefits?

Being denied benefits is extremely common. In fact, most people are denied when they first apply for disability. However, many people are able to win benefits when they appeal the decision.

The steps of appealing include asking the SSA to reconsider their prior decision, testifying before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at a disability hearing, asking for Social Security’s Appeals Council to review your claim, and suing in federal court.

The disability attorneys at Greenbaum Breuer & Associates have extensive experience with Social Security Disability appeals, all the way to federal court.

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What are the important deadlines I need to watch for?

When you are denied benefits, you have 60 days to file your appeal, so you need to act fast.

When you are applying for benefits, it is always best to apply as soon as you know you cannot work because of your health.

The process of winning benefits takes time, so you want to get this started even if your health conditions are relatively new—so you can start getting benefits when you need them the most.

If the Social Security Administration (SSA) tries to cut off my benefits, can Greenbaum Breuer & Associates help me?

Every once in a while, the SSA will review your disability status, and they could declare that you no longer need benefits, even when you know you still cannot work.

The disability lawyers at Greenbaum Breuer & Associates can help you fight this cessation of benefits.

In fact, we frequently handle cessation of benefits cases. If you worked with us to get your benefits in the first place, or if you’re new to Greenbaum Breuer & Associates, let us know if you run into problems keeping benefits.

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Working with a Social Security Disability Lawyer

Why should I hire an attorney to represent me in my claim for Social Security Disability benefits?

The process of applying for disability benefits can be long and exhausting. When you are already struggling with bad health, getting a disability lawyer to manage your claim relieves a major burden on you and lets you rest easier.

Experienced disability attorneys know the thousands of rules that decide who gets benefits, the steps in the process, and how to make a case for disability benefits that will be convincing to Social Security.

Over the years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) process has become more computerized and automated and less personal. That is another reason to work with a lawyer who can guide you through the process.

One government report found your chances of being awarded benefits in a disability hearing are nearly three times higher when you have a representative.

And you do not pay any attorney fee until you win benefits, so there is no upfront cost to you.

When should I contact an attorney about Social Security Disability representation?

It is best to apply for disability benefits as soon as you realize you cannot work because of your health. The sooner you start, the sooner you can get benefits.

And if you have applied and received a denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you should talk to a disability attorney as soon as you can.You have 60 days to start your appeal.

When an attorney gets familiar with your situation early on, they have more time to prepare your case before important deadlines pass, and they can help you more throughout the process.

Will I get to speak directly with my disability lawyer?

You absolutely should.

And with Greenbaum Breuer & Associates, you absolutely will.

A lawyer can do a better job explaining your case to the Social Security Administration (SSA) if they have taken the time getting to know you and your story.

This is one of our core values at Greenbaum Breuer & Associates: We meet personally with every client, often multiple times before a disability hearing.

This might seem obvious, but not every law firm does it.

Many large national law firms try to handle as many cases as possible with as little labor as possible. With them, you might not even meet your lawyer until the day of your hearing.

What does it cost to work with a Social Security Disability lawyer from Greenbaum Breuer & Associates?

You only pay an attorney fee after you win Social Security Disability benefits.

This rule is designed to make it easy for you to afford a lawyer when your finances are strained due to health problems.

You also can start with our law office by getting a disability attorney to evaluate your case for free.

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Getting Help from Greenbaum Breuer & Associates

Why should I work with Greenbaum Breuer & Associates?

Greenbaum Breuer & Associates has helped generations of people in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast win Social Security Disability benefits.

Our experience and concern for our neighbors are primary reasons to call us for disability benefits help.

You might find large, national law firms who say they can help. But firms like that often treat you like a number. You might not meet your lawyer until the day of your hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Or you may not get a lawyer at all, but a non-attorney advocate.

Greenbaum Breuer & Associates provides the personal attention you deserve at a difficult time in your life.

Our disability attorneys also know the local doctors, Social Security Administration (SSA) offices and disability judges. That local knowledge can make a difference in your claim.

We are a well-established firm with the power of a big law firm and the personal touch of a hometown firm.

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What Areas Do Greenbaum Breuer & Associates Serve?

Greenbaum Breuer & Associates helps people win Social Security Disability benefits in the New Orleans area and across Louisiana, in Gulfport, and across the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

We help clients in Metairie, Kenner, Gretna, Marrero, Slidell, Mandeville, Covington, Hammond, Houma, Thibodaux,Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Alexandria, Biloxi, Pascagoula, Bay St. Louis, Hattiesburg and more.

How Many Clients Has Greenbaum Breuer & Associates Helped?

Greenbaum Breuer & Associates, now in its second generation of leadership, has helped generations of people in New Orleans and the Gulf Coat. That means we have helped tens of thousands of people win Social Security Disability benefits.

Where is Greenbaum Breuer & Associates located? And when are you open?

Greenbaum Breuer & Associates has an office at 1515 Poydras Street, Suite 700, across from the Superdome in New Orleans, with parking available.

We are not far from the local Social Security Administration (SSA) office, and we are in the same building with the Social Security Disability hearing office, making our location highly convenient.

We also have an office in Gulfport at 14231 Seaway Road, Suite 5003. Our Gulfport office helps people across the Mississippi Gulf Coast and central Mississippi.

We are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What information do I need for my initial case appointment with Greenbaum Breuer & Associates?

For your first meeting with us, bring any notices you have gotten from the Social Security Administration (SSA) denying your benefits, or any other letters you have received from the SSA.

Prepare a list of your medical providers. And make a list of your past jobs within the last 15 years, when you worked them, when you had to leave because of your health and what your job responsibilities included.

You will also need to complete paperwork appointing Greenbaum Breuer & Associates as your disability representative.

I am interested in talking with Greenbaum Breuer & Associates. What should I do?

Call us at 504.523.2210 in New Orleans.

If you’re in Mississippi, call us at 228.575.4440. 

Or fill out the contact form on this page.

We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your Social Security Disability claim—and to help you get your life on more stable ground.