If you have been unable to work for twelve months or you expect to be unable to work for at least twelve months because of a severe medical condition or conditions, you should apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible. The process of applying for benefits can be lengthy - especially if your initial application for benefits is denied. Do not wait until things "get bad" or "get worse." This may result in unnecessary delay in filing for the benefits that you need and may result in lost benefits! You should always discuss your case with a qualified Social Security disability attorney - I assist many of my clients in filing their initial application for benefits.
Below, I will discuss each of the three options available to you to file your initial application for Social Security disability benefits. Check back soon for a blog post on each of these options - I will discuss each in detail and share some helpful tips for each option.
Let’s take a closer look at each option:
1. Applying in Person with the Social Security Administration.
If you choose to file your application in person, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 and make an appointment at your local field office. While you are not required to make an appointment, you should! The local filed office can get very busy - you may wait for several minutes or for more than an hour or two. Call and make an appointment to meet with a representative from the Social Security Administration – do not show up and "take a number."
You will be scheduled to meet with a representative from the Social Security Administration. During the interview, the representative will assist you in completing your application or may ask you to secure additional information to complete the application. The representative will not give you legal advice! The representative will not tell you if you are "doing it right."
2. Applying by Telephone.
You can also file your application by phone, using the same number: 1-800-772-1213. The telephone interview may be easier for you if you have difficulty driving, if you do not have transportation, if you live a long distance from the nearest Social Security Administration field office or if you have a fear of being in a public place.
Like the in-person interview at the local Social Security office, you will schedule an appointment for the telephone interview. Make sure you have all of the necessary information available at the time of the scheduled interview. Not having all of the required information may cause an unnecessary delay in filing your application or cause your application to be denied.
3. Applying Online.
Today, the online application process is the method preferred by the Social Security Administration. However, this does not mean you have a better chance of being approved for benefits if you apply online. You may apply online by logging on to the Social Security Administration website at www.socialsecurity.gov. You will find tabs for “disability” and “apply online for disability benefits.” Remember - read the instructions carefully and follow all of the directions and complete all of the necessary steps! Skipping any of the required steps may lead to your application being denied or a delay in receiving a decision.
What happens after you complete the in-person or telephone application?
After completing the application in person or by telephone, the Social Security Administration representative will not decide if you meet the definition of “disabled.” The representative will only make an initial determination of your non-medical eligibility for benefits. Therefore, the representative cannot tell you if your application was approved at the end of your interview.
Remember - no matter what option you choose to file your initial application – do it right! You must present your information in the most accurate and complete manner. In addition to your personal information, the Social Security Administration will require you to provide a complete list of your impairments (your medical conditions), the names and addresses of your medical providers (your doctors), a complete list of your medications and a list of the jobs that you performed in the past fifteen years.
For many of my clients, the application process is just too confusing. The pages of questions, forms and requests for information can be overwhelming. That is why I encourage my clients to allow me to work with them when filing the initial application for benefits. I know what the most common mistakes are and the information that is most often left out of applications - these can cause delays or denials. I want my clients to avoid these costly errors. The more complete and accurate the application – the better chance you have it being approved – BE PREPARED!