Claiming disability benefits through SSD or SSI

If you become disabled and unable to work and support yourself, how do you claim disability benefits from the social security administration? You begin the process by contacting your nearest social security office and stating your desire to file a claim for disability.

After doing this, you will be given an appointment for an interview to be conducted in person or over the phone. After the completion of this interview and the necessary forms, your Social Security Disability or SSI disability claim will be assigned to a disability examiner who will evaluate your medical records for the purpose of approving or denying your claim.

Because any decision made on your disability claim will be based on a review of your medical records, you should do the following:

1. When you submit your disability application to social security, be sure to include the names of all the doctors from whom you have received medical treatment. Try also to include contact information such as addresses and phone numbers. Also try to include dates of treatment.

2. Remember to disclose all the medical or mental conditions for which you have received a diagnosis.

3. Indicate on the disability application any special exams or testing you have had, including imaging studies such as CT scans, Xrays, and MRIs.

4. If you have any statements from your doctors, submit these with your disability application. By the same token, if you have any medical records in your possession, submit these with your disability application. But, in either case, remember to make a copy of what you submit for your own personal records. This also serves the purpose of having a "backup copy" in the event that the social security administration does not receive what you send them.

How long will it take to receive an answer on your Social Security Disability or SSI application? In most cases, a decision will be made within 90-120 days. However, decisions can take significantly longer. If you have a disability lawyer assisting you on your case, you may wish to have them periodically check the status of your disability claim.

How likely is it that your disability claim will be denied? National statistics indicate that seventy percent of initial claims for SSD and SSI benefits are denied. For this reason, you will probably need to consider filing an appeal for your disability claim and you may wish to consider the issue of representation through a qualified disability lawyer.

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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