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You can also apply by calling the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. Representatives there can make an appointment for your application to be taken over the telephone or at any convenient Social Security office.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call toll-free “TTY” number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Monday through Friday.
The claims process for disability benefits is generally longer than for other types of Social Security benefits. It can take up to six months at each of the disability application and appeal levels. The wait for a hearing has grown as the backlog of cases grows – in many cities it is well over a year.
To complete the application, you should gather the following information:
- Your Social Security number;
- Your birth certificate or other evidence of your date of birth (if you do not have a birth certificate, you may request one from the State where you were born);
- Your military discharge papers, if you were in the military service;
- Your spouse’s birth certificate and Social Security number if he or she is applying for benefits;
- Your children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers if they are applying for benefits;
- Your checking or savings account information, so your benefits can be directly deposited;
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, hospitals, clinics, and institutions that treated you and dates of treatment;
- Names of all medications you are taking;
- Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers;
- Laboratory and test results;
- A summary of where you worked in the past 15 years and the kind of work you did;
- A copy of your W-2 Form (Wage and Tax Statement), or if you are self-employed, your federal tax return for the past year;
- Dates of prior marriages if your spouse is applying.
The documents presented as evidence must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. SSA cannot accept uncertified or notarized photocopies as evidence since they cannot verify their authenticity. Do not delay filing for benefits just because you do not have all of the information you need. The Social Security office will be glad to help you.
If you are applying for Supplemental Security Income benefits you also need the following:
- information about the home where you live, such as your mortgage or your lease and landlord’s name;
- payroll slips;
- bank books;
- insurance policies;
- car registration;
- burial fund records;
- and other information about your income and the things you own.
They use a five-step process to decide if you are disabled. Here are the questions Social Security asks:
- Are you working?
If you are working and your earnings average more than a certain amount each month, you generally will not be considered disabled. The amount you can earn changes each year, for the current figure across all the programs, see: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10003.pdf. If you are not working, or your monthly earnings average the current amount or less, the state agency then looks at your medical condition.
- Is your medical condition “severe”?
For the state agency to decide that you are disabled, your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities—such as walking, sitting and remembering—for at least one year. If your medical condition is not that severe, the state agency will not consider you disabled. If your condition is that severe, the state agency goes on to step three.
- Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?
The state agency has a List of Impairments that describes medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically mean that you are disabled as defined by law. If your condition (or combination of medical conditions) is not on this list, the state agency looks to see if your condition is as severe as a condition that is on the list. If the severity of your medical condition meets or equals that of a listed impairment, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If it does not, the state agency goes on to step four.
- Can you do the work you did before?
At this step, the state agency decides if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before. If it does not, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled. If it does, the state agency goes on to step five.
- Can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, the state agency looks to see if you would be able to do other work. It evaluates your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you cannot do other work, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled.
There are several kinds of disability benefits for which a person can be eligible. Depending on the facts, you may be entitled to one of these benefits, or you may be entitled to more than one. The medical rules are the same for all categories, you must be just as disabled to qualify for one as for another. The non-medical requirements are different for each category.
No. There are several ways to apply for a Social Security disability claim. The first is to go to the Social Security District Office and file the claim in person. Now applications can also be made online at www.ssa.gov. Another way is to call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. They will make an appointment for a telephone interview for you. Once the interview is finished they will send necessary forms for you to fill out. All the basic information will have been collected during the phone interview.
Cases are generally handled on a contingency basis. That means the representative receives a fee only if you win your case. Normally the fee is 25% of your back benefits and must be approved by Social Security. This fee is set by federal law.
If you do not win your case there is no fee. There are also costs in each case for which you may be responsible. These costs are charges paid to doctors for medical records.