Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income are the main types of disability programs administered by Social Security Administration. DIB provides benefits to individuals who are insured under the Act by virtue of their tax payments to the Social Security trust fund. An individual’s social security, FICA and Medicare taxes are in some ways like premiums you pay for having a long-term disability policy administered by the federal government in that an individual accumulates enough credits, generally speaking, to be insured after 20 consecutive quarters (5 years) of sufficient earnings.
SSI provides payments to individuals who are disabled and have limited income and resources, and have not paid in to the DIB program long enough to be insured. SSI is more of a welfare program that is means tested and provides a level benefit to everyone who qualifies.
The first stage of the process for disability is the filing of your initial application and the determination on that application by the Disability Determination Service (DDS). If you receive a denial from DDS, you have sixty days to appeal the denial and request a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) with the Social Security Administration. The appeal will be heard by an ALJ at the nearest Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). If you receive an unfavorable decision from ODAR, then the last stage of appeal within the Social Security Administration is an appeal to the Social Security Administration Appeals Council. Beyond the Appeals Council, you must appeal an unfavorable decision to the Federal District Court, with an appeal as of right to the Circuit Court of Appeals. Very few cases actually go beyond the Appeals Council.
For twelve years I have represented individuals fighting for disability benefits. I know the procedural and substantive law and regulations which govern the determination of disability. More importantly, I know how to present your case at the ALJ hearing (ODAR), which is your best shot at winning benefits. I have tried nearly a hundred cases at the ALJ hearing level and dozens at the Appeals Council with a very high degree of success.