Page Loader Logo

Published: May 15, 2019
Disability Benefits Q&A

Photo of Suzi Arnold and Daniel Ratcliff

Photo of Suzi Arnold and Daniel RatcliffBy Amber Carlton


Think you might qualify for disability benefits but don’t know where to start? The IC offers services that can empower you to advocate for yourself when it comes to benefits. Check out what Benefits Specialist Suzi Arnold and Benefits Coordinator Daniel Ratcliff have to say about the most commonly asked questions they receive.

What are the common misconceptions about disability benefits?

Daniel Ratcliff (DR): That everyone will be denied the first time they apply; that you can’t work while receiving benefits; that it covers short term disability like a broken arm. There’s also a big misunderstanding about the difference between SSI and SSDI.

What’s the difference between SSI and SSDI?

Suzi Arnold (SA): SSDI is Social Security Disability Insurance, which is a benefit that people can get if they have
enough work credits with Social Security. SSI is Supplemental Security Income and it’s needs-based.

What type of benefits can The IC help consumers with?

DR: We help with all applications for state and federal benefit programs, and we also provide education and referral on these same benefit programs.

Is it difficult to get disability benefits?

SA: It just depends. There are very specific rules. There are some very black and white situations like blindness and deafness. But then there are other disabilities that aren’t as cut and dried, and you have to have extensive testing and documentation in your medical records. And you have to prove that the disability is preventing you from performing
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).

DR: You also have to be receiving current treatment, and that can just be as simple as a medication regimen.

Can the average person apply successfully for disability benefits?

SA: Absolutely! But if we’re helping with an application, what is submitted is usually more comprehensive than if they tried to do it on their own, and that can increase their chances of being approved the first time. We help teach them where they need to add more of their story to the application.

DR: And not to downplay certain things. A lot of individuals want to appear more able than they really are.

What happens if my application is denied?

SA: If somebody gets a denial letter, they have 60 days to file an appeal. We can’t help with that. An appeal involves going to court and arguing it, so it needs to go through a disability consultant or attorney. But we can provide referral names for both, and we can help connect you to other disability resources at The Independence Center.

If you would like help applying for disability benefits, contact The Independence Center at 719-471-8181 to set up an intake appointment.

Explore our
Community services