What are Social Security disability benefits, and how to apply for it?

Every year, thousands of Americans are either born with disabilities or become disabled for various reasons. The federal government offers social security disability benefits with two programs under the Social Security Administration (SSA), such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Income (SSI), to provide benefits for persons who are disabled. 

Every locality has a Social Security office to accept and review the applications of persons who are applying for disability benefits within a particular region. There are many ways, however, to apply for social security disability benefits such as over the phone, by visiting a local SSA office, or online. Here is what you need to know. 

How to apply for disability benefits?

When you are ready, you can apply by completing your application online. Need assistance or more Information? Call the SSA toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.

If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, simply call the toll-free telephone number at 1-800-325-0778. You can find a Social Security office near you. Go to www.ssa.gov for more information. If you’d like to apply in person, call your local office to make an appointment prior to your visit.

If you’re looking to help someone else apply, you can do that too. Visit the SSA’s page on Helping Someone Apply Online to learn more.

Things to do before you apply for social security disability benefits

Before you apply, ensure you have all the information you need. It is advised that you bring additional documents, in case the ones that you have are inaccurate or incomplete. You should always have the most updated information available.

What Information do you need?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at your records closely. They will require a significant amount of information to make a decision on your claim. Thus, you will need to provide a variety of personal, medical, and family Information. This is Information used to verify your identity, medical history, place of residence, family members, and other Information.

You should be prepared with the following information:

  • Your birth certificate
  • Your ID or Driver’s License
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • The full contact information of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and other medical professionals and locations; this includes the dates you visited these places
  • Full Information on the medicines you use, including dosages and names
  • Your latest personal medical records
  • Tests results from labs
  • Your employment and work information
  • Your latest W-2 form or federal tax return
  • The SSNs and birth information of your family members
  • Proof of marriage

Make sure that you have the original forms of these documents. The SSA will not keep them. You will receive your paperwork back once photocopies are made. You can either mail the documents or bring them in-person at your local SSA office. If you are struggling to obtain certain documents, a disability attorney can assist you with gathering and submitting the correct information.

Additional Help in Filing Your Claim

If you go online, you can prepare for the interview and application easily. The Social Security Disability Starter Kit lets you know about everything you need. You can also check out the SSA’s online Application for Benefits, which will link to additional information for completing the form.

If Your Application Is Denied

After your application is reviewed by the Social Security Administration (SSA), it may be determined that you do not qualify for social security disability benefits. 

If you disagree with this decision, you have the right to ask the Social Security Office to reconsider your application. When your application is denied, your notice will tell you how to request an appeal. The notice will also tell you how much time you have to make the request.

Often, you can appeal the decision online. The online disability report will ask you for updated medical information. This includes the latest tests, medical treatments and visits to the doctor after the determination was made. When you are on the SSA website, simply search for the link: Appeal Medical Decision.

If you did not qualify for non-medical reasons, you can also appeal. In this case, go online and click on the link to Submit an Appeal.

You can always call the Social Security toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appeal. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call, 1-800-325-0778.

It is important to remember that there are two types of programs. You can qualify for either SSDI or SSI. In some cases, people qualify for both. If you do not have enough work credits to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. This benefits program requires that you have limited income and financial resources.

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