SSI Disability FAQ
If you’re trying to win disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, you likely have some questions about how the process works, who is eligible for disability payments, how to appeal a denied claim, and more. This page covers the most common questions and will help you understand how to win your disability claim as quickly as possible.
1. What Do Benefits Pay:
SSI: Payments are based on need. This is, to some extent a “welfare” based program. Depending on your situation, the monthly maximum Federal amounts for 2015:
Beginning January 1, 2016, the monthly maximum amounts will be:
$733 for an eligible individual
$1,110 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse
Note: The amounts for 2015 and 2016 are the same, as there was no cost of living adjuster for benefits.
SSDI: Payments are based on the worker’s Social Security earnings before he became disabled. That is, the more you earned prior to becoming disabled, the more you SSDI payments will be, up to a certain maximum.
The average SSDI payment was $1,165 a month in 2015.
You can receive up to $2,553 a month as of 2015
Social Security issues back pay ( “past due benefits”) to claimants after they are approved for ongoing benefits. The amounts vary according to the type of benefits, the date the disability began, and when the application was filed.
In the case of SSI, the back pay can only go back to the Date of Filing. This is the date that you submitted your original application.. This means that a claimant who has been disabled and may have qualified for years, but waited to apply for SSI benefits, could only receive past due benefits as of the date he or she filed the initial application.
In the case of Disability Insurance Benefits (also called Title II benefits), the back pay will have a five-month waiting period from the Onset Date. For example, if a claimant were found to be disabled as of January 1, she would not be eligible for disability back pay until May 1. The back pay would then extend from May 1 to the approval date. Another important restriction regarding Disability Insurance Benefits back pay is that it can only extend up to 12 months before the Date of Filing. For example, a claimant who has been disabled for years, but perhaps waited until recently to file a claim, could only receive past due benefits for the year before he or she filed the initial application.
If a claimant has been approved for both SSI and Disability, the amounts will offset. This means that he or she will receive two Award Notices—one from Disability, and one from SSI. The amounts quoted on these notices reflect their own calculations and not the actual total amount that will be awarded. Social Security does not “double pay” benefits. For example, if SSI awards $500 and Disability awards $1000, the total amount sent will NOT be $1500. The total amount will be $1000 because the amounts offset. There may also be an offset if the claimant is receiving Workers Compensation benefits. Your disability representative can explain any offsets that may apply in your specific situation.
It is also important to note that back pay checks are processed separately. In many cases, claimants receive their first monthly check (or even a few months’ worth) before the back pay check is received. This is because the back pay check often takes longer to process.
In the case of SSI, the back pay is sent in three installments. These installments are mailed six months apart, meaning that it takes about a year to receive the entire back pay amount. In the case of disability, it can come all at once but may take a little longer (2-3 months after the first monthly check is received) if the claimant has been approved for both Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Social Security Income.
If you have specific questions about your back pay amounts, contact Social Security or ask your legal representative.
2. Eligibility Checker
Please fill out our Claim Evaluation Form to check your eligibility. Once you provide us with the required information. A representative will be in touch with you shortly to discuss your eligibility.
3. Decision Wait Times
How long does it take to get a decision on your Social Security Disability Claim? This depends on the level or “stage” at which your application is pending. When you first file your application, the decision is made by aoffice in Michigan called the “Disability Determination Service.” This is actually a State of Michigan agency that applies the Social Security Administration’s rules. After you file your application, it generally takes between 90 and 120 days to get a decision on your application.
If your application for benefits is denied at the Initial Level, then you must appeal and request a hearing before an administrative law judge. This means that, eventually, you will go before an Administrative Law Judge to present evidence and set forth testimony and argument as to why you are disabled. If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney will ask you questions, as well as ask questions of a “vocational expert” who will also be present at the hearing. Unfortunately, in Michigan, the Michigan Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR’s) have the following wait times. This is the average amount of time it will take to get a hearing after your appeal your denial at the Initial Level:
- Grand Rapids: 22 months (1.92 years)
- Lansing: 18 months (1.5 years)
- Mount Pleasant: 21 months (1.87 years)
- Flint: 20 months (1.83 years)
- Livonia: 19 months (1.79 years)
Once you have your hearing, you usually receive a decision within about 60 days. If you’re the administrative law judge denies your application at this stage, your next option is to request an appeal before the Appeals Council. This is another, higher branch of the Social Security Administration. If you take this route, then you will normally get a decision within 6-8 months.
4. Approval Rates
There are numerous Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR’s) in Michigan. The approval rates (the percentage of application granted to the hearing level) vary from office to office. More important, however, is the particular approval rate for the judge that is handling your case. If you know who your judge is, and you would like to know more about this judge’s approval rates, please fill out this Claim Evaluation Form, and we will get back to you immediately. As of 2018, the following Michigan offices have these approval rates.
- Grand Rapids: 42%
- Lansing: 47%
- Mount Pleasant: 43%
- Flint: 46%
- Livonia: 53%