Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

Correct Steps for Filing a Social Security Disability Claim

I came across an article titled "Steps for filing a Social Security Disability Claim". The only thing is, it didn't really provide a list of steps for filing a claim, just a list of the application and appeal levels involved in many claims.

Those levels, by the way, are A) request for reconsideration, B) Request for hearing before an administrative law judge, C) the appeals councils, and D) federal district court.

Here's a short list of a few "thinking steps", i.e. things to strongly consider if and when the subject of filing for social security disability comes up.

1. Take consideration of any work activity you may currently be engaged in. If you are working, you can still file for disability, but only if your monthly gross earned income is below a certain dollar amount. In other words, you can only work and earn up to a certain maximum amount and still be eligible to apply for disability. If you are working and earning more than this amount, you will not be eligible to file for SSD. What is this amount? It's called SGA.

2. Consider whether or not your treating physician (you may have more than one) will be supportive of your case. Why? Because if your case is denied at the initial claim and reconsideration levels (i.e. the application and first appeal levels), as most claims are, and you have to appear at a disability hearing, then your attorney will most likely want to request a statement from your physician in support of your case.

How will you know if your doctor will be willing to do this for you? You won't until the time such a statement is either requested...or you discuss the issue with your physician. Of course, if you broach this subject with your doctor and find that he/she is not in support of a disability application, you may wish to consider looking for another doctor.

Is this doctor shopping? No, it is not. The sad fact is, there are a number of doctors who will refuse to complete any paperwork in support of a disability claim simply because doing so consumes their time. From your vantage point, it would be better to discern whether or not your doctor is one of these and, if so, to find another physician.

3. Write down your medical history and in detail, including where you've been treated, when you've been treated, what you've been treated for, and include all the contact information. As I've said before in many posts, the decision on a disability claim comes down to what your medical records say about your condition and limitations. However, the disability examiner who will be reviewing your case after you file a claim will not be able to accurately decide your case without all of your medical records. And these records cannot be requested by the examiner unless he or she is aware of all your medical sources.

4. Write down your work history. This means all the jobs you've done within the "relevant period", which, for social security disability purposes, is the last 15 years. Why should you do this? Because you'll have to do this anyway at the time of application. However, by doing it in advance, you can A) get this task out of the way and B) take time to think about the various duties you have had for each job (since this may affect how your past work is classified by social security which can directly affect the decision on your case).

Tip: since you may be asked to submit your work history more than once, it would be a good idea to keep a copy for your personal records.

Now, after you've done these things, where and how to file for disability? Easy. Simply contact your local social security office and request an appointment to apply for disability. The disability interview can be conducted over the phone, or in person. Can you apply for disability online? Yes, you may. However, since you will have questions most likely that only a flesh-and-blood social security employee can answer, you might as well contact a local office versus filing online.

Can you have an attorney assist you with your disability application? This will depend on the attorney you use. Some disability lawyers prefer to take cases only after a claimant has filed a claim, or even after a claimant has received a denial notice. However, some disability lawyers will assist you with your claim from beginning to end. Of course, the only way to know what an individual attorney will be willing to do is to contact one.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

Social Security Disability hearing decision time
How long does it take to get a disability approval letter?
How to Appeal a disability claim denial from Social Security
Permanent disability benefits
Applying for Disability - Rules and Requirements
How long can you receive SSI or Social Security disability benefits?
What medical conditions do they Award Disability Benefits for?
Social Security Disability, opinion of my doctor
SSD and back pain
why DDS Examiners deny so many disability cases
How do I apply for disability, when

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

What Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?
Disability for a mental condition
Tips for Filing for disability
Financial Help Filing For Disability
Checklist for filing for disability, SSI or SSD
Qualifying for disability benefits, how to qualify for SSD or SSI
Filing a disability application: the steps
Disability award notice, how long it takes to get benefits
How to Apply for Disability - Where do I go?
What makes you eligible to get disability?
How to check my disability claim status?
Can a disability attorney speed up a disability case?
SSI disability Award Letter
How long to get approved for disability?
How to apply for disability benefits
How long does disability back pay take?
What are qualifications for getting disability?
What medical conditions can you file disability for?
Disability Lawyer help questions
Social Security Attorneys, Disability Representatives