The Social Security Disability process is filled with jargon and vernacular not common to everyday people. Demystifying this terminology and its meanings through simple explanations goes far in helping applicants through the Social Security benefits process. Understanding the nuts and bolts of each of the terms below increases one’s effectiveness as an advocate in disability cases.
Once a Social Security Administration (SSA) decision is reached, if an applicant disagrees with the outcome, he or she holds the right to appeal. In other words, the claimant asks SSA to review the case again, possibly with additional information or evidence.
Also known as retroactive pay, back pay grants monthly benefits to qualified individuals prior to their application date. These benefits could date back as early as the onset of the disability.
Supplemental income is awarded to qualified applicants through monthly cash benefits and/or medical coverage. These benefits fall under the categories of retirement, disability, family, survivors and Medicare. Individuals below the retirement age with a limiting medical impairment which hinders the ability to work qualify.
An official letter sent to the applicant states whether a decision has been made to approve or deny benefits. The mailed letter includes the decision explanation, payable benefits and the expected monthly cash amount.
The SSA defines disability as a condition that lasts or is expected to last for 12 months or result in death. This mental or physical impairment must prevent an individual from engaging in work or “substantial gainful activity” (SGA).
Sometimes labelled “proofs,” evidence includes the documentation required to support an applicant’s claim. While the proof needed looks the same foundationally, certain medical conditions may require extraneous support.
One vehicle through which the SSA awards benefits to disabled workers and their families is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). These awards are granted based on several factors including the time one has worked and his or her payment of Social Security taxes.
The federal program, Social Security Income (SSI), offers disabled individuals and their families supplemental income based on financial need. Funding for this effort comes through general tax revenue.
The level of work activity and earnings by an individual whether full or part time defines substantial gainful activity (SGA). Factors of pay or profit and the significance of physical and/or mental activities by the claimant play into this definition as well.