One of the top reasons applicants are denied Social Security disability benefits is because the claimant failed to complete his or her application!
How Does That Even Happen?
People frequently ask me, “How can a person fail to complete the application?” If I had to venture a guess, I would say that some claimants fail to complete the application because of all the work that is required to file a claim.
Perhaps it would be easier to explain this by detailing what information is required to file a disability claim with the Social Security Administration.
How to Apply for Social Security Disability
There are three ways that you can apply for disability benefits: on the internet (online), in person, or on the telephone.
When you file a claim either in your local field office or by telephone, a Social Security representative will interview you and complete the application for disability benefits and the Adult Disability Report.
Even if you choose an application interview in person or on the telephone, you can greatly reduce your interview time as much as 50% by starting the process online. You can complete both the application for benefits and the Adult Disability Report online by going to SocialSecurity.gov.
You still need to keep your scheduled appointment with your local field office so a Social Security representative can review your information.
How to Apply Online
You can apply for disability via the internet by visiting SocialSecurity.gov.
There are four (4) steps to apply online
- Review the Adult Disability Checklist.
- Fill out the Disability Benefit Application.
- Fill out the Adult Disability Report.
- Fill out the Authorization to Disclose Information Form and mail or take it to your Social Security Office.
How to Apply On the Phone
The first thing you should do is call Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, to set up an appointment for someone to take your claim over the telephone. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may call Social Security’s toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.
The disability claims interview typically lasts from one to three hours, depending on how well prepared you are for the interview. If you schedule an appointment, Social Security will send you a Disability Starter Kit to help you prepare for your disability claims interview. The Disability Starter Kit also is available online at Socialsecurity.gov. For your information and convenience I will list much of the information you will need to gather below.
How to Apply In Person
Again, you should call Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, to make an appointment to file a disability claim at your local Social Security office. In the greater Pensacola area, you may call the Pensacola office directly at 1-877-505-4550.
What Completes The Application?
To apply for disability benefits, you must complete (1) a Social Security Benefit Application, (2) an Adult Disability Report, and (3) an Authorization to Disclose Medical Records.
The Authorization is a one-page medical release that gives Social Security permission to request your medical records from your doctors. The Social Security Benefit Application is your claim for benefits. It does not take very long to make a claim. The real time-consuming part of a disability application is the Adult Disability Report, which collects detailed information about your personal history, work history, medical history and current disability.
If you cannot complete the Adult Disability Report online, you can still complete Social Security’s (1) Medical and Job Worksheet (“Worksheet”) and (2) Checklist – Adult Disability Interview (“Checklist”), and have them ready for your appointment. I made a shortcut web address for the Worksheet and Checklist, which you can access at SSA.gov.
Use the following Checklist to prepare for your application, whether it be online, in-person, or on the telephone:
- Medical records already in your possession. (You do not need to go out and gather all of your medical records. You only need to gather what you already have. Social Security will help you obtain the rest of your medical records.).
- Workers’ compensation information, including the settlement agreement, payout ledger (distribution), date of injury, claim number, and proof of other disability awarded payment amounts.
- Names and dates of birth of your minor children (under 19 years old) and your spouse.
- Dates of marriages and divorces.
- Checking or savings account number,including the bank’s 9-digit routing number, if you want Direct Deposit for your benefit checks.
- Name, address, and phone number of a person Social Security can contact if it is unable to get in touch with you.
- If a medical release Form SSA-827 (Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration) was mailed to you by Social Security, complete (sign and date with witness signature) and return it as directed.
- As stated above, if you are unable to file for benefits online, complete the “Medical and Job Worksheet – Adult” and take it to your interview.
Take the Checklist items and information to your appointment or have them with you if your appointment is by telephone.
You should keep your appointment even if you do not have all of the information. Social Security will help you obtain any missing information.
You should also complete the Medical and Job Worksheet to prepare for your in-person or telephone appointment, or when filing online. This Worksheet is not an application for Social Security disability benefits. It is meant to help you fill out the application for benefits.
The Worksheet requires you to list the following information:
- Medical Conditions: You should list all of the physical or mental conditions (including emotional or learning problems) that limit your ability to work. If you have cancer or any other condition that is measured in stages, you should include the stage and type.
- If you are not working, list the date you stopped working.
- Your height without shoes in feet and inches.
- Weight without shoes in pounds.
- Medical Sources: You should list any doctors, hospitals, clinics, therapists, or emergency rooms you have visited because of your conditions. For each medical provider, you should list the name of the provider, address, phone number (with area code), the date you were first seen (or admission date), and the date you were last seen (or discharge date).
- Medicines: You should list any medicines you take, why you take them (for which medical condition), and the prescribing doctor’s name.
- Medical Tests: List any medical tests you have had, or are going to have in the future. For each test, you should also provide the type of test, the name of the doctor who ordered the test, and the date(s) of the test.
- Job History: List the jobs (up to the most recent 5) that you had in the 15 years before you stopped working. For each job, you should list the job title, type of business, dates worked, number of days worked per week, hours worked per day, and rate of pay.
Armed with the above documents and information, you are well-prepared to file your claim form for disability. It is strongly recommended that you have someone such as an attorney experienced in handling disability claims go through your application with you.
When Should I Apply for Social Security Disability?
You should apply for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI and SSI) as soon as you are eligible. If you have a disability and are either (1) unable to work or (2) no longer able to work full time, you should file an application for disability with the Social Security Administration.
You are eligible to file an application for social security disability or SSI either (a) the day after you stop working, or (b) the day after your earnings fall below $1,100.00 per month.
If you are disabled and fall within one of the two options above, you should contact your local social security office and begin the application process.
Please note that neither of the two options above allow for you to apply while working full time. Many prospective clients call me and state they want to apply for disability while working full time so they can have the disability benefits in place before they quit their job. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to apply for disability in this order.
If you are working full time while applying for disability, you will be immediately denied under step one of the five-step sequential disability evaluation process. For this reason, you must wait until you stop working, or until your income drops below $1,100 per month.
Mr. Ortiz is a Board Certified Social Security Disability Advocate Attorney and offers free case evaluations. Call today at (888) 321-8131 for your free consultation.