Explaining the Social Security Disability Application Process
If you are disabled, you have the right to apply for Social Security disability benefits. However, the application process may feel overwhelming, and a small mistake during the process could result in your claim being denied. As you initiate the application process, it is strongly advised to seek the counsel of a skilled Social Security disability attorney to assist you along the way. At the law office of Baker & Baker, we can help. Call our Social Security disability lawyers directly today for a free consultation.
When to Apply
The first thing to think about when applying for Social Security disability benefits is when to apply. In most cases, you should start your application for disability benefits as soon as you are disabled. That being said, Supplemental Security Income benefits are available beginning the first full month after the date that you filed your claim or the date that you became disabled, but Social Security Disability Insurance benefits don’t begin until the sixth full month of disability.
How to Apply
The second thing to consider when preparing your application for Social Security disability benefits is how to apply. You can file your application online or by phone. You can also apply by visiting your local Social Security office in person.
The Application Process
To apply for disability benefits, you will need a lot of information about yourself, your family members (if any of your family members will qualify for benefits on your record), and your disability.
Information about yourself
As you start your application for Social Security disability benefits, the first thing that you will want to focus on is gathering all the pertinent and required information about yourself. When filing your claim for Social Security disability benefits, you will need to provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with your name, Social Security number, proof of your age, information about your finances, and a summary of where you worked prior to your disability and what you did. Providing the right information about your finances is especially important if you are applying for Supplemental Security Income, as benefits are based on a person being of limited income and resources.
You will also need to answer questions about other benefits you are receiving, all sources of your income, whether or not you are receiving workers’ compensation insurance benefits, your citizenship status, and more. Ask your attorney for help in proving your eligibility requirements and submitting the correct information to the SSA if you are unsure how to do this.
As part of the application process, you will also need to fill out the Adult Disability Report form.
Information about your family members
If you have any family members who may be eligible to receive benefits on your record, you will need to prove the SSA with this information as well. For example, if you are married, you will need to provide proof of your marriage, as well as your spouse’s name, Social Security number, and proof of age.
Information about your disability
Providing comprehensive information about your medical condition and your disability is one of the most essential pieces of a successful claim for Social Security disability benefits. Types of medical documents and information about your disability that you will need when applying for Social Security disability benefits include medical records, doctors’ reports, test results and radiology reports.
Keep in mind that you should provide the Social Security Administration with as much information as possible. For example, when providing medical records, be sure to provide records that are as accurate and timely as possible. If you have a condition that is rapidly changing, you should provide medical records from within the last six months.
Any statements submitted by your treating physician will likely carry the greatest amount of weight with the SSA. Your treating physician should not only submit a statement describing your disability, but also complete an RFC, or Residual Functional Capacity, form. The claims examiner at Disability Determination Services will also be completing a residual functional capacity assessment; having your own on file could help your claim.
After Filing: What Happens?
After you file your application for disability benefits, the SSA will review it. In some cases, the SSA may contact you requesting more information about your disability, your work history, your income, or another detail of your application. It’s important to be on the lookout for a notice from the SSA as you will want to provide any additional information in a timely manner if requested. As your case is pending, you can check the status of your application online.
If your claim is approved, you will receive notice from the SSA, and your benefits will commence. Sometimes, a claimant may be eligible for back pay.
If your claim is denied, you will receive a notice from the SSA which will include a reason for the denial. You have the right to appeal a denied claim. You should appeal a denied SSA claim in most situations. You must file the appeal no later than within 60 days from the date you receive the notice of denial. If you file the appeal outside the 60 days you may have to show good reason for doing so or you may lose benefits or the appeal may not be accepted. There are four levels of appeal — working with an attorney during the appeals process is strongly recommended and can improve your chances of your case being successful. A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that people who hired an attorney to help with their disability claims were three times more likely to be successful than those who didn’t.
Call the Office of Baker & Baker Today
Suffering a disability that leaves you unable to work and earn an income to provide for yourself and your loved ones is a devastating experience. If you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits, do not delay in beginning the claims process — receiving disability benefits could have a big impact on your ability to afford your basic costs of living.
At the law office of Baker & Baker, our Social Security disability lawyers know how much is on the line for you. Our team has years of experience preparing disability benefit claims and representing our clients in the Social Security disability benefits appeals process. Whether you are just starting your application or have received notice from the SSA that your claim has been denied, we can help. Call us today for your free consultation and the legal support you deserve.