Social Security Disability
How to Apply for Social Security Disability
If you are in the process of finding out about Social Security Disability and are getting ready to apply for the disability benefits, it can seem a daunting task to deal with all the details. While the benefits distributed by the Social Security Administration are helpful to those who cannot work, they are defnitely not easy or fast to obtain. If you have a medical condition (either physical or psychological) that impedes your ability to perform your regular job, and if the condition is likely to affect you for at least one year, you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. It is important that you start the application as soon as you confirm your eligibility, as the process can take a fair amount of time.
You can apply in person at a Social Security office in your area, or do the whole process online. If you choose to apply in person, it is in your best interest to call and set up an appointment to make sure you can meet with a Social Security Administration representative. Whether you decide to do it on your computer or visit the office, please make sure that you have all the required paper work before embarking on the application process. Here is a useful check list that we encourage all applicants to look at prior to submitting their applications:
- You will need your W-2 from the last year pr IRS 1040; if you are self-employed you will be required to submit Schedules C and SE.
- If you have been in the military, have the military service discharge information for all the periods when you have been in active duty (this is Form DD 214).
- The Social Security numbers of your spouse and minor children will be needed in case there is a question of family eligibility for your disability benefits.
- If you need to set up Direct Deposit for your Social Security Disability checks, you will need your bank account number (checking or savings) and a bank routing number.
Other than this core information, your application will need to be supported by reports that can help establish your disability and the impact that it has on your work:
- A complete medical record that offers a chronological history of your disability; from the time it surfaced to its current severity.
- It is best to include a list of all the doctors who have treated you and the hospitals or clinics that you have visited as a patient.
- Include a list of your medications and frequency of usage.
- A sequential report of all the medical tests that you have taken and a copy of the results will also help in establishing your medical condition.
- A list of referrals of people who know of your medical condition and its effect on your ability to perform your regular job. Try and include complete contact information to make it easy for the Disability Determination Service to reach your referrals.
- A complete record of your work history, which is the jobs you have done and the involved levels of responsibility.
- It is also considered pertinent to provide information about your workers' compensation claims and offer details of insurance claims that you may have filed.
If your application is substantiated with all this background information, there will be less room for the decision makers to dismiss your claims. Social Security Administration, more specifically the Disability Determination Services, assesses each application to determine the validity of the medical and non-medical aspects of the application. Basically, you want to establish that your disability prevents you from working by covering every angle that the SSA may take in their attempts to prove that you can, in fact, work.
An integral part of preparing the application for Social Security Disability is to know that there is a possibility of the claim being denied. In this situation, do not be disheartened. Remember that you have paid money into this program, and that you are entitled to disability benefits. It is best to keep a copy of all your application materials to demonstrate your case during your appeal. There are professional services, attorneys, and other advocacy professionals who can help you with the appeal process and hearing. If you get to this point, keep in mind that you do not have to pay an attorney or advocate unless they win you benefits. At the appeals level of your claim, we often recommend finding representation, simply because you do not want to get in over your head and risk losing benefits.
Social Security Disability application is a notoriously long-winded process. However, it can be a tad easier by using this check-list and ensuring that you have a clear understanding of what is needed. It is worth taking a few extra days to get all your material together rather than submit an incomplete or incorrect application. Throughout the process, it is vital to not allow your pride to get in the way of the truth, as you need to be completely honest about how debilitating your condition is. In the end, applying for Social Security Disability is not "admitting defeat" to your disability or condition, it is simply taking advantage of the program established to help people in your situation.