Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits 101

A physical or mental disability strikes, leaving you with medical expenses you weren’t planning for. Making matters worse, your disability now stops you from working and earning an income to pay all your other bills. It’s completely understandable if you feel overwhelmed by stress and uncertainty.

In difficult times like this, however, remember that you have options. If your disability is expected to keep you from working for at least one year, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

QUALIFYING FOR DISABILITY BENEFITS

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the government agency that is responsible for administering the SSD benefits programs. It might be better known as a retirement system, but the SSA has two other benefits programs for disability.

One of them – Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – pays benefits for people with disabilities who have earned enough “credits” by paying into Social Security through their jobs.

The other program – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – provides payments for necessities like food, clothing and shelter for senior citizens, people who are blind and people with other disabilities. This is for people with limited incomes who have not paid into the system through employment. The SSI program is needs-based, so in addition to meeting the SSA’s definition of “disabled,” your income must also be under a certain threshold. SSDI is not financially needs-based.

Qualifying for SSDI benefits is not easy. Simply having a disability isn’t enough. You must also be able to show that your condition leaves you unable to work in any occupation you are qualified for based on your job history, education and training.

THE DISABILITY APPLICATION PROCESS

If you think you may be eligible for Social Security Disability, filing an application is the first step.

The initial SSDI application is thorough and requires hours to complete. It is important to provide the SSA with as much information as possible so they can make an informed decision.

You will need to provide details about your work experience, education and medical history. Working with representatives who know the system can help tremendously with this process.

WORK EXPERIENCE

You’ll need to describe all of the jobs you have held for the past 15 years. This includes your dates of employment, how much you were paid and your job responsibilities. You will also need to answer questions about how physically and mentally demanding each job was. Your responses will help the SSA evaluate whether your current disability prohibits you from doing the same type of work.

EDUCATION

You will also need to provide a full breakdown of your education, including your last grade completed in high school, any college education, job training, trade school or vocational training you have completed. This helps the SSA determine whether you have the skills to do some different type of work.

MEDICAL RECORDS

Because your disability will be determined largely through medical evidence, you will need to provide the SSA with comprehensive information on your physical and/or mental conditions and treatment. This includes the names of physicians, clinics or hospitals where you received care, dates of treatments, test results, outcomes of surgical or other medical procedures, and any other information that could help your application. It’s OK if you don’t have original copies of all your medical records to submit with the application. You can sign a form authorizing the SSA to obtain documentation directly from your health care providers.

HOW A SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY LAWYER CAN HELP

Social Security Disability qualifications are tough but not impossible. The application process is frustrating, but the experienced, professional attorneys at Levine Benjamin know what to to.

Statistically speaking, you are more likely to win your benefits claim when you have representation. We understand what the SSA claims reviewers are asking and looking for. We can help you present your claim so you have a better chance of being approved than if you applied on your own.

If your disability is preventing you from working and you think you may qualify for Social Security Disability, apply with the help of the experienced Social Security Disability lawyers at Levine Benjamin. Call us today, or contact us online to schedule a free review of your case.

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