JUST FIND YOUR ANSWERS BELOW:
QHow Do I Apply for Disability Benefits?
A In order to accommodate claimants, the Social Security Administration offers many different ways to apply for disability benefits. You can apply online, in-person, or over the phone. You will be asked to provide substantial documentation regarding your condition, educational background, and work experience. Social Security may be able to process your application faster if you help them by getting any other information they need.
- Apply online by filling out an electronic application on SSA.gov.
- Apply in-person at the Social Security office nearest to you.
- Apply over the phone by calling this toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213. The TTY number for the deaf and hard of hearing is 1-800-325-0778. The lines are open from 7.a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
QWhat Do I Need to Apply for Disability Benefits?
To complete your application, you will need to provide detailed medical, educational, and work records. All documents presented as evidence must be either originals or copies certified by the issuing agency. The SSA cannot accept non-certified or notarized photocopies as evidence as their authenticity is unverifiable.
Gathering your documentation before beginning your application can help make the process as smooth as possible. If you need help determining which documents are needed for your application, reach out to the SSA for more information.
- Your Social Security number (SSN)
- Your birth certificate or other evidence of your date of birth
- Your military discharge papers, if you were in the military service
- Your spouse’s birth certificate and SSN if they are applying for benefits
- Your children’s birth certificates and SSN if they are applying for benefits
- Your checking or savings account information for direct deposit
- 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
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
- Any other pertinent details about your income and the things you own
QHow Does the SSA Define Disability?
The Social Security Administration defines disability as the inability to work due to provable medical impairments. Applicable impairments will last for at least 12 months or for the duration of a person’s life. In determining disability, the SSA has five essential questions that must be answered before an application is approved. To improve your chances of a speedy decision, you will want to supply information that makes the answers to these questions clear.
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. 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.
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.
Can you do the work you did before?
With this question, the state agency will determine if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before. If you are still able to do the work you once did, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled.
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 are able and qualified to do another type of work. Your medical condition, age, education, past work experience, and skills will be evaluated. If it is found that you cannot do other work, the state agency will decide that you are disabled.
QHow does the Social Security Administration define disability?
ASocial Security defines disability as the “…Inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for continuous period of not less than 12 months.” While this is the hard line of the law, there are many variables. We would be happy to discuss these details with you.
QWhat kinds of Social Security benefits are there?
There are several kinds of disability benefits for which a person can be eligible, including:
- Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Disability Widow(er) Benefits (DWB)
- Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits
Some individuals qualify for multiple types of benefits, paid concurrently. 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—such as your age, how much you have paid into Social Security, and your resources—are different for each category.
QIs it hard to apply for Social Security disability benefits?
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.
QWhen can I file for Social Security disability benefits?
You can file for Social Security disability benefits on the day that you become disabled if you believe that you will be out of work for one year or more. Sometimes hospital social workers can help you and your family make the initial contact with Social Security.
QDo I need a lawyer to represent me for my Social Security disability claim?
No. Any claimant can represent themself in all phases of the Social Security disability process. Though it is not required, the assistance of a trained attorney can make a big difference in terms of the speed of your case and its outcome. Many people who are unfamiliar with the process find it intimidating and may not know exactly what their application is missing, leading to stress and delays. Claimants with representation win their cases more often than those who are not represented.
QHow do representatives who help Social Security disability claimants get paid?
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.