Application Requirements For Disability - What Do I Need To Start The Claim?

Any individual who wishes to file for disability, through either the Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income disability programs, must, in order to qualify for benefits, be able to meet the social security administration's definition of disability.

The SSA definition states that a person must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment and this impairment must be severe enough to keep them performing substantial gainful work activity for a period of no less than twelve continuous months.

Either that or their impairment must be expected to keep them from performing substantial gainful work activity for twelve continuous months.

Or, finally, their impairment must be severe enough to end in death.

This is essentially the eligibility criteria that must be proven by an individual's medical records in order for them to be considered eligible for disability benefits.

What does an individual need to start their disability claim? Individuals seeking disability benefits can file an application for Social Security Disability online or by contacting their local Social Security office to schedule a disability interview, which can be done either by phone or in person.

Filing online may not be the best option for anyone who wishes to ask questions and have them answered by a live person that they are sitting across from, or speaking to on the phone. Also, currently there is no actual online disability application for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI disability.

Disability applicants who indicate that they wish to file for SSI can provide lead information online but will still have to be contacted by a claims representative at a social security field office before their disability claim can be forwarded to the state disability agency (DDS, or disability determination services) for a medical decision. For this reason alone, it seems to make little sense to try to file a claim online.

Note: SSA has stated that online filing for SSI will be available soon and this may be true by the time you read this.

Additionally, if an individual tries to file their disability claim online, they should make sure that they complete the disability report form online (form SSA-3368), as well as print, sign, and return the medical release form (form SSA-827) to their local Social Security office.

If an individual chooses to file their disability application in person or by phone with Social Security, they should have all of their medical treatment source information, medication, and work history (jobs they have performed in the past fifteen years) ready for their interview.

During the interview, a Social Security claims representative (a CR) will complete their application and disability report form for them. They will also have them sign a medical release form so that once the interview is completed their disability claim will be ready to be sent to the state disability processing agency.

Additionally, the claims representative (CR) will evaluate the disability applicant to determine their eligibility for Social Security and/or Supplemental Security Income disability (in other words, which program they are eligible to receive benefits from).

If the disability applicant meets the non-medical requirements and disability criteria for both disability programs, their disability claim will be taken as a concurrent claim; if not, their disability claim will be taken as a Social Security Disability or SSI disability claim only.

But no matter what program an individual is eligible for, their medical disability evaluation is the same. Consequently, if an individual is approved they meet the medical criteria of both disability programs.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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