SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY - Can I apply for disability online?

Can I apply for disability online?

You may file an application online for Title II Social Security Disability benefits (disability benefits based on your earnings). Social Security online offers a disability form to address your medical treatment sources (doctors, hospital, etc), work activity (jobs), and medications.

The claimed advantage to filling out the the online disability form is that it may reduce the amount of time the disability interview takes.

However, several factors about filing online should be considered:

1. The disability interview with the CR (claims representative) at the Social Security office offers a valuable opportunity to directly ask questions regarding the application process and the appeal process which the online process does not afford. Asking these questions may contribute to the reduced potential for mistakes that may cause delay in the handling of a claim.

2. A significant percentage of claims that are initiated online are denied without the benefit of a disability determination having been conducted by a disability examiner. This happens when the Social Security office needs to resolve an issue with regard to the disability application and, for whatever reason, has not been able to make contact with the claimant. These claimants are quickly sent a close-out letter and are effectively denied. This happens regularly with online filing, far less so with claims that have been filed at a local Social Security office.

3. Claimants who may be considering the online process because they have medical mobility or transportation issues should know that they can file with a local Social Security office and have their disability interview conducted over the phone. When a phone interview is taken, the accompanying paperwork is simply mailed to the claimant to sign and return.

4. Lastly, you cannot file an online SSI disability application at this time. As a need-based program, SSI involves other factors of entitlement that must be addressed in an interview by phone or in person at your local Social Security office.

Since claimants will not know in advance whether or not their claim will be for SSI, Social Security Disability, or will involve both SSD and SSI in the form of a concurrent claim (a high percentage of disability claims are concurrent), this may be problematic for claimants.

If you apply for disability online and do not hear from the Social Security Administration, you should call your local office. If additional information is needed to process your online disability application, the Social Security Administration will provide you with an appointment to review your online information. Note: This happens frequently; therefore claimants may wish to bypass the online process altogether.

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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