Social Security (SS) does not pay “partial” disability benefits; however, if you have serious injuries that keep you from working for an extended period of time, even though you intend to return to work eventually, you may be eligible for a closed period of disability. If you have been out of work due to a work related accident or injury for six months and your disability is expected to last for at least a year, you should apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
These benefits can be paid in addition to your workers compensation benefits. The application process can be done in person at the nearest Social Security office to you, over the phone at 800-772-1213, or on-line at www.ssa.gov. The initial application is not complicated, but it may be time consuming. The information you will need includes your work history for the last 15 years and the names and address of all the medical providers treating the conditions which keep you from working. SS will collect the medical records and make a determination.
If that determination is favorable, you will start receiving benefits within 90 days. If the determination is unfavorable, you have the right to file an appeal. The appeal must be filed within 60 days. If the appeal is filed after the 60 day time period, you must reapply for benefits unless you can show “good cause” for the failure to appeal in a timely manner. You want to avoid having to reapply because it will delay your receipt of benefits.
The first appeal is a Request for Reconsideration. At this level in the appeal process, you can submit additional documentation of your disability and SS will review your application. If you are denied a second time, the appeal is a Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). We recommend that you consult with your workers’ compensation attorney or other legal representative to assist you in presenting your case to the AJL. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible as the second appeal must also be filed within 60 days from the denial of benefits.