At RGG Law, we get all kinds of questions about Bankruptcy and Social Security Disability. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions.
Social Security Disability
Q: How do I know if I am “disabled” enough to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?
A: The Social Security Administration (SSA) says a successful applicant for disability benefits must be completely disabled. This is unlike some other programs and insurance policies that assist partially disabled persons. The disability must be a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least one year (or has already lasted one year) or will result in the applicant’s death. This does not mean, however, the applicant has to be permanently disabled.
Q: What if my application for benefits is denied?
A: If your application is denied, you may appeal the decision. There are several levels of appeal: reconsideration of your claim; a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ); review by the Appeals Council; and review by the federal district court. You have a limited time in which to file the appeals, however. The advice and assistance of an RGG Law Social Security Disability lawyer can help you make a stronger case during the appeals process.
Q: If I can work a little bit, can I still qualify for benefits?
A: The Social Security Administration (SSA) says you must not be able to perform “substantial gainful activity,” which means the type of activity a person normally does for pay or profit. If your monthly earnings are below a certain amount (which SSA sets every year), you will not be considered to be performing substantial gainful activity. If you are receiving disability benefits but wish to try working, you can take part in nine months’ worth of a work trial period, during which SSA will not stop your benefits if you are still disabled.
Q: Is there a work history requirement to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?
A:Yes. To receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must have both a disability and a sufficient work history. The required work history depends on your age when your disability began; you must have worked for a certain number of years. Your work also must be recent enough to qualify.
Q: Will the amount of my benefits have anything to do with the severity of my disability?
A:No. Your disability benefit will be based on your earnings history, not the specific nature of your disability.
Q: What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?
A:The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs are both run by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI provides benefits to people who are unable to work because of their disabilities. To be eligible, applicants must have a qualifying work history and be disabled or blind. SSI is a needs-based program. To be eligible for SSI, applicants must have limited income and resources and be aged, disabled or blind.
Q: If my application is approved, when will the benefits start?
A:Benefits typically are paid beginning in the sixth month after the disability started. The application and decision process may take a long time, so it is best to apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled.
Q: Can I receive workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability at the same time?
A: Workers’ compensation benefits may reduce your Social Security Disability benefits, but you can receive them at the same time. If the total benefits exceed 80 percent of your average current earnings, your Social Security Disability benefit will be reduced.
Q: Did the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Act of 2005 make bankruptcy no longer an option?
A: No, this is not true. While the law passed by Congress in 2005 did make changes to how bankruptcy is handled, even making some people ineligible for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, it is still a viable option for most individuals. An experienced attorney at RGG Law can help you determine if bankruptcy is the right option for you.
Q: Will filing for bankruptcy ruin my credit?
A: After filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, the bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for a period of ten years. This discourages many from seeking bankruptcy protection. However, late payments, defaults and other negative actions may already be on your credit report, and a bankruptcy will allow you to clean the slate. You can begin rebuilding your credit soon after a bankruptcy and can usually obtain lines of credit within a relatively short time and because you will be debt-free and ineligible to file another bankruptcy for a period of time.
Q: Can I discharge every kind of debt? Taxes? Student loans?
A: In a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may discharge unsecured debts, including credit card debt, personal loans, medical bills and the remaining amounts owed in foreclosures and repossessions. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may also discharge more kinds of debt, including some tax bills, as well as attorney fees. Certain kinds of debt may not be discharged in either form of bankruptcy, such as child support payments, alimony/maintenance and student loans.
Q: Why hire an RGG Law attorney for my bankruptcy?
A: Instead of relying on a cookie-cutter form to get you out of debt, an experienced lawyer at RGG Law can help guide you through the process. By trying to complete the process alone, you can make simple mistakes that could cost you in the long run. Do not risk your financial future.