Just to file an initial application for disability benefits, the first thing you need to know before you even get started is that Social Security has two separate disability programs.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the program that is based on all of your contributions and FICA taxes through your paycheck over the years. And it acts just like an insurance policy. In this case it’s a disability insurance policy. And you need to have paid in to the system enough over the last 10 years to qualify for that program. Like any insurance policy, if you stop paying your premium, eventually your insurance runs out. It lapses. If you stop working and paying FICA taxes out of a paycheck, well, eventually your disability insurance through social security lapses.

And so Social Security’s, other program is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI has nothing to do with your contributions. It’s simply based on two things. Are you financially eligible? Are you without income and assets? And are you disabled in the initial application on social security’s website? You can only file for SSDI online. You cannot file an SSI claim online

It’s almost impossible to know that. And so, let’s say for example, there’s possibility that you’re eligible for both programs. There’s so many different technicalities in how the benefits might pan out in the end, but you only apply for SSDI. Well it’s an enormous bureaucracy and they’re very busy. They don’t necessarily follow up with you to tell you that you should also file a separate SSI application but unfortunately that cannot be done online. And so right from the get-go at the initial application, there’s so many opportunities to make the claim more challenging than it needs to be. And although the information technically is out there, it’s not easy to process. It’s not easily accessible or understandable. And so in many ways, it’s another example of why it was probably a good idea to have an attorney, an experienced disability attorney help you with this from the beginning, because that person will file or the online disability application with you.