Social Security Disability (SSD) program was established to enable individuals who are physically or psychiatrically disabled to the point that they are unable to work with assistance to allow them to lead meaningful lives. As with so many well-intentioned governmental programs, however, the process of application and appeal can become bogged down in bureaucracy. For this reason, it is important to have an attorney who specializes in SSD to help you navigate the system. Because the process of applying for and qualifying for SSD can be fairly slow, you should begin that process as soon as it becomes apparent that you are disabled.
In most cases, you must have accumulated enough working credits to qualify for SSD, but not earned over a certain amount of money. An adult who became disabled before turning 22 years of age can also qualify for SSD if his or her parent meets certain qualifications.
Qualifications for SSD Application
In order to receive SSD, an individual must:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Have a disabling condition that is either expected to last for at least a year or to result in death
- Not be currently receiving benefits on his or her own Social Security record
- Not have been denied disability benefits within the past 50 days
Information You Must Have to Apply for SSD
To apply for SSD you must have the following personal, medical, and employment information available:
- Birth certificate or other proof of birth
- Social Security number
- Name, date of birth, and Social Security number of current or former spouse(s)
- Date and place of marriage, divorce, or death of former spouse(s)
- Names and dates of birth of any minor children
- Bank account number and routing transit number to have benefits directly deposited
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
- Military discharge papers, if your service was before 1968
- Contact info for someone who knows about your medical condition
- Detailed information about your illnesses, injuries or conditions, including names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers and dates of treatment for each doctor, hospital or clinic
- Names of all your medications and the physicians who have prescribed them
- Names and dates of medical tests undergone, who prescribed them, and their results
- Amount of money you earned last year and so far during the current year
- Name and address of employer(s) for this year and last year
- Copy of your Social Security statement
- Discharge papers for any active U.S. military service prior to 1968
- List of jobs (up to 5) that you worked at in the 15 years before you became unable to work
- Data about workers’ comp or other government benefits you’ve applied for or received
- W-2 forms, 1099s, or tax returns for the last year
It should be noted that most documents you have to provide, (e.g. birth certificates) must be provided as originals. You shouldn’t delay your application just because you’re having difficulty finding all of your necessary documents, however, since the Social Security office will assist you in your search. Also, it is best to physically bring your, documents to the Social Security office so that irreplaceable documents won’t be lost in the mail. At Social Security, they will photocopy your documents and return your originals to you.
You should make an appointment and bring the necessary documents with you in order to save time. In general, you can expect to receive a decision from the Social Security office within 3 to 5 months as to whether or not you will be awarded benefits.
Dealing with Denial
You should not be surprised if your claim for SSD benefits is denied since 70 percent of SSD applications are not approved. It is crucial that you have a skilled disability attorney if you have to make an appeal. The appeal, if one is needed, will have to be made within 60 days. Do your best to locate the best attorney in the field because doing so will give you a much better chance of succeeding with your appeal.