The Social Security Administration offers multiple programs in order to offer financial support to those with disabilities. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays out benefits to the disabled individual along with certain family members if the disabled person qualifies to be “insured.” Generally speaking, to qualify as insured, the individual must have worked for a long enough time period and in a recent enough time frame, as well as having paid Social Security taxes on income earned. The Social Security Income (SSI) program pays out benefits to disabled adults and children with limited income and resources. These two programs are different, but they both have the same medical requirements. The basic steps to apply for these benefits are also the same. We will go into more details on those steps here.
What Steps Do I Need to Take to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
In order to apply for Social Security disability benefits, you will need your Social Security number as well as proof of your age. You will also need medical information that includes the names and contact information of your treating doctors, caseworkers, and medical facilities. You will also need both the names and the dosages of all medications you are currently taking as well as medical records from your treating doctors, therapists, and medical facilities that you currently possess. You will also need to prepare a summary of your work history that includes where you worked and the type of work you performed. Be prepared with your most recent W-2 form or, if you were self-employed, a copy of your federal tax return.
You can apply for disability benefits online, by phone, or in person. The information you previously gathered will help you complete the first official step in the application process which is completing and submitting your application. Once this has been done, the SSA will review your application and verify that you meet some of the basic requirements to be eligible to receive disability benefits. This will involve the SSA verifying your current work activities and whether you have worked enough years to qualify for benefits. The SSA may request additional documentation prior to processing your application.
The SSA will process your application and then forward your case file to the Disability Determination Services office located in your state of residency. DDS is the state agency responsible for completing the disability determination process for the SSA and rendering a decision. You can always check the status of your application online or by calling the SSA. You should expect to receive a letter in the mail with the decision on whether or not you qualify to receive disability benefits.
Should the decision on your application be unfavorable, then you should be aware that you have the right to appeal any decision rendered by the SSA as to whether or not you are entitled to benefits. Note that you have to file a written request for an appeal within 60 days of receiving the decision on your application. There are, in fact, four levels of appeal including reconsideration, administrative law judge hearing, review by Social Security’s Appeals Council, and review by the federal courts.
For help with your disability benefits application, Disability Advocates is here to assist. Contact us today.