Allsup Disability Services Expert David Bueltemann Answers Your Questions
According to David Bueltemann, manager of senior claims representatives, CEO Jim Allsup founded Allsup in 1984 after working for about five years as a Social Security Administration (SSA) field representative handling disability claims. According to Bueltemann, Allsup has helped more than 150,000 people receive their disability benefits.
"People are too often unaware that a service like ours exists. It.s a complicated process and people can benefit from having an expert they can rely on from day one, though many people check into representation assistance after they have been denied Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), as well," Bueltemann said.
Question #1: What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program based upon contributions made by individuals working and paying into Social Security. Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes are withheld by Social Security on wages paid to an individual. If a person earns enough work credits, he or she is insured for disability benefits.
A person can earn up to four credits per year. The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on a person's age when he or she becomes disabled. The amount of a person's benefit depends on how much he or she earned and how much was paid into Social Security. The disability benefit monthly average in 2010 was $1,064.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a separate program administered by Social Security and funded by general federal tax revenues. It pays monthly benefits to the elderly, the blind and people with disabilities who have low income and few material assets. For example, one cannot collect SSI benefits if one's assets (not including a single home and automobile) exceed $2000 for a single person or $3000 for a couple. The maximum SSI benefit in 2010 for an individual is $674 per month and for a couple is $1,011.
You must be insured. That means you must have worked and paid into the program (mandatory payroll taxes) for five of the last 10 years. Additionally, an individual disabled prior to age 31 would qualify with less than 5 years work. For example, a person disabled at age 24 needs only six work credits; if disabled at age 29, you need 16 work credits. You earn one work credit for each yearly quarter that you are employed. You must also meet Social Security's definition of disability.
Question #3: What is Social Security's definition of disability?
SSDI and SSI share the same definition of disability. It is the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a period of 12 months or longer. We work within the Social Security guidelines to ensure that all the necessary information is gathered and presented in the best possible way to the Social Security Administration.
Question #4: Is it difficult to get SSDI benefits?
Yes. SSA denies about 60 percent of the people filing initial applications. That is why we have more than 600 disability experts on staff, including many former Social Security employees. They know the system, they know the process, and this is all they do. We have managed to reach a 98 percent award rate with our claimants who remain in the process for a final decision. Allsup makes a very difficult process user-friendly.
Question #5: Do I need a representative?
No. However, Allsup's representatives will dramatically improve your chances of receiving disability benefits. As a group, our senior representatives alone have accumulated more than 550 years in disability experience.
Question #6: Can I appeal the decision if Social Security denies my claim?
A person who is denied has 60 days to appeal, which is called reconsideration. If a person is denied again at reconsideration, he has 60 days to appeal and ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge. A person who is denied by an administrative law judge has 60 days to appeal to an Appeals Council. If denied by the Appeals Council, the person can then file outside the Social Security Administration at the Federal District Court. Our expert staff takes our claimants through every level necessary.