So, you can no longer work and have tried another area of employment and a less strenuous area. But, you still can’t function and your disabling condition promises not to get better and you have and you have decided to apply for disability benefits. Where do you start? The best place to get information about Social Security is either from the website maintained by the Social Security Administration or from their local; offoce. Yes, there are many creditable sites, but why not stick with theirs? For ‘starters’ these are a few things worth knowing;
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses 5 criteria to determine your eligibility for benefits:
1.” are you working (f you are working in 2014 and your earnings average more than $1,070 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled.)”1
2. “is your condition severe? (Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, we will find that you are not disabled.)”2
3 “is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?”3
4. “can you do the work you did previously? If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then we must determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, your claim will be denied”4
5. “can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, we see if you are able to adjust to other work. We consider your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.”5
As you may have noticed, there is much negative language contained in the statements above. That is not meant to deter you from applying as it is to cause you to think twice before applying. After all, the benefit ‘pot’ is only so big
How to File an Application for Social Security Disability (SSD) Benefits
Social Security Disability benefits are meant for individuals who are out of work due to a long-term disability. There are three ways to begin your SSD application:
- Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) via their main helpline at 1-800-772-1213,
- Call your local SSA office to make an appointment to complete your application in person,
- Or, visit the SSA’s website (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/disability.htm) to immediately begin your application.
Whether you complete your application online or in person with the SSA, this form is required
- If you apply online: there’s a video and tutorial and the application FORM
- The Adult Disability Report, often referred to as the Blue Book is recommended to substantiate your disability and may serve as a guide to you as to the things the SSA uses in making it’s determination.
- The Authorization to Disclose protected health information to the SSA http://www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-827.pdf
Additional forms may be required by the SSA as well, in order to evaluate the extent of your symptoms and your physical and mental limitations, as well as the effect that these factors have on your ability to perform everyday tasks, including typical job functions. In the Blue Book/Adult Disability Guide, find the diagnosis that most closely resembles yoursIf more information is needed, you will receive direct requests from the SSA to complete other forms or to submit additional documentation. The Social Security Administration may also require that you be examined by one of their doctors.
It is also important to note that medical documentation makes up a great deal of the proof of your disability and is an essential requirement for the SSA to make a determination on your SSD claim. You should submit any and all medical documentation you have, and ensure you provide thorough and credible information to ‘back up’ your claim for SSD benefits. All forms about all of the medical providers from whom you have received treatment should be filled out completely (for example, if you don’t know a zip code, look it up; both the post office, yellow pages and internet have zip code finders.
The SSA is very strict about rules. If an appeal is to be filed in 60 days and they receive it in 61 days, the SSA has EVERY right to deny your appeal. A word to the wise, so operate to the best of your ability with their requirements, many of which are functional. How long does it take you to get dressed, do you require assistance in getting dressed, bathing, showering, cooking getting to work
If you do not want to go through the process alone, you can hire a disability attorney or advocate to help you with the application. or might I suggest that a free organization called the Disability Digest may help you?