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There are two types of disability programs with the Social Security Administration: Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Although both programs use the same rules to prove and establish a physical or mental disability, there are different eligibility requirements for each program. For Disability Insurance Benefits, a claimant is eligible if they meet the required earnings quarters over an applicable period of time. For SSI benefits, a claimant is eligible if they meet certain asset limitations (one house, one car, furniture, clothing, etc) and do not exceed certain income limitations.
A claimant will commence an application by filing it with a local Social Security Office.
It can take up to five months before a decision is made by that local office. If an unfavorable decision is rendered by the local office, the claimant must file an appeal within sixty days to have a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At the Administrative Law Judge hearing, testimony is provided by the claimant and written medical evidence is submitted at this hearing. If an unfavorable decision is rendered by the Administrative Law Judge, a claimant must file a timely appeal to the Appeal’s Council. If the Appeal’s Council renders an unfavorable decision, the claimant may file an appeal to the Federal District Court and if necessary following an unfavorable decision with said Court, the claimant may file an appeal to the Federal Court of Appeals.