Filing for disability - How to apply and the information Social Security needs
How long does a disability decision take?
While filing for disability will seem daunting, speaking as a former disability examiner, I can tell you that the process is easy to begin. The initial disability application usually takes at least three months to get a decision, and, for many people, an appeal (or two) may be necessary. For most individuals, a disability hearing appeal will occur.
How do you file your application for disability benefits?
Social Security has a couple of ways to file disability applications. You can do so in person or over the phone, or you can do so by filing a disability application online. I would recommend that you avoid the online process because it does not allow you to ask questions and have them answered, and the online process can be confusing.
Filing for disability in person is the best option
The least confusing way to apply will be to contact the Social Security office nearest to you and start the application process which can be done over the phone, or in person at the Social Security office. In either case, you will be speaking to a live individual who will complete your disability application for both Social Security Disability, SSI, or both if needed, along with your disability report form.
Just some advice: be prepared to give the claims representative information about your medical treatment ,as well as information about your work history.
Step one in filing for disability
Step one is contacting the Social Security Administration to schedule a disability interview. If you decide to seek representation, some representatives (attorneys and non-attorney representatives) will actually assist you in getting your disability claim initiated. Meaning that they will contact SSA to set your interview appointment and help you with it in their office.
Step two in filing for disability
Step two should be preparing for the disability application interview. During your disability interview, you will speak to an SSA claims representative about your disabling conditions, your work history (what types of jobs you have had during the fifteen years prior to the onset of your disability), and your medical treatment history. So you will want to get all your information gathered in advance to make sure your application is as accurate and complete as possible.
This is vital because after you have applied, your claim will be sent to someone known as a disability examiner and that individual will be the person who actually makes the decision on your case. The more information you provide when you apply for disability, the easier it will be for the examiner to make an accurate decision.
What specific information does Social Security need?
Social Security needs the names, phone numbers, and dates of treatment for all of the physicians, clinics, and hospitals that have treated you for your medical and/or mental conditions. This, of course, is because the social security administration will gather your medical records in order to evaluate your impairments.
Likewise, SSA will need information about the jobs you have worked in the last fifteen years, including the place of employment, job title, and a description of the work that was performed. This is so the social security administration can determine the demands of your prior work and to determine if you have the ability to go back to one of the jobs that you performed in the past.
Other important information to provide
Additionally, you are required to provide Social Security with information about your marriages, divorces, children, military service, income, and resources. Why does Social Security need this type of information? Social Security gathers information about your marriages and divorces to ascertain if you may be qualified for other Social Security benefits.
Furthermore, most disability application interviews involve a basic look at your income and resources to establish if you are qualified to get SSI benefits (because it is a need based disability program).
How to apply for disability online
Now, if you choose to apply for disability online, here are the steps that are involved.
The online Social Security Disability application process involves four steps that must be completed in order for your disability claim to be sent to a disability examiner at DDS (disability determination services) for a medical disability determination. The Steps to apply online are as follows:
1. Review the adult disability check list provided on the SSA website.
2. Complete the Social Security Disability application.
3. Complete the adult disability report form.
4. Complete and sign the Authorization to Disclose Information form SSA 827 (your medical release). You can do this electronically as part of your Adult Disability Report or print and mail the form to your Social Security Office.
Avoid an incomplete disability application
If you do not complete all of these steps, your disability application is not complete. Most disability applicants complete steps 1 and 2, but not 3 and 4. This results in the need for a Social Security office claims representative to contact the applicant and, of course, illustrates why the online process does not actually save time for most claimants and, in actuality, can make filing a claim more cumbersome...versus simply contacting a Social Security office in person or over the phone.
If you indicate while using the online process that you wish to file for SSI (Supplemental Security disability is a need-based disability program that requires a review of your income and resources to establish eligibility) or you do not complete steps 3 and 4, your local Social Security office will try to contact you for the information.
What if Social Security can't get in touch with you?
If they cannot reach you, they will generally mail out the necessary forms for completion with a letter stating your Social Security Disability claim will be denied on a certain date if they do not receive the required information. They will also send a closeout letter for SSI disability if you indicated you wish to file for disability under this program.
If Social Security does not receive your information either online or via paper forms, they will deny your disability claim. This denial is known as a failure to cooperate denial.
Why applying for disability in person or over the phone is better than online
As stated earlier, you do not have to file your Social Security Disability or SSI claim online. You can file your Social Security Disability claim with your local Social Security office by phone or in person. Sometimes this is the better option, especially if you have difficulty working with computers or you need to file for SSI disability benefits.
Also, contacting a local SSA field office in person or over the phone grants a person the obvious advantage of being able to ask questions and receive answers from a live individual.
Will my claim be for Social Security Disability or SSI?
Will your disability claim be for Social Security Disability or SSI? This will be determined at the time of your application. It will depend on your work history. Which program your claim is taken in, however, has no effect on how the decision is made. For both SSD and SSI, the decision process and how medical records are reviewed is identical.
Differences between Social Security Disability and SSI
The only substantial difference differences between SSDI and SSI are in terms of how a person's benefits are funded and also with regard to certain non-medical disability criteria. SSDI benefits, of course, are based on "insured status, which is essentially based on a person's work history and how much they have paid into the system, i.e. work credits that have been earned over a number of years.
SSI, on the other hand, is not based on insured status, but, rather, is intended for individuals 1) who have not worked long enough to qualify for SSDI, or 2) who have not worked enough or earned enough in recent years to remain qualified for SSDI, or 3) who do qualify for SSDI but would only receive a small monthly benefit check.
In the latter case, a person who is approved for disability benefits would receive concurrent benefits, meaning benefits from both programs to elevate the amount of their monthly benefit. Now, here's what SSA has to say on the topic of Social Security Disability in North Carolina
Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability
Tips to Prepare for Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI
Advice to Win SSD and SSI Benefit Claims
Social Security Disability SSI Questions
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What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
What happens after I file my disability claim with Social Security? What happens after a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim has been taken and is Pending
If you get denied on a disability application do you have to file a new application?
How the Decision on a Disability Application or Appeal Under SSDI or SSI is Made