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How do I file an application for Social Security Disability benefits?

By   /  March 3, 2016  /  18 Comments

Learn how to file an application for Social Security disability in person, online, or by phone for a worker, a widow, or a disabled adult child.

application-for-social-security-disabilityFiling an Application for Social Security Disability Online

Social Security provides several ways to file your application for Social Security Disability. If you are applying for disabled worker’s benefits, you can file an application online on the Social Security Administration website at www.ssa.gov. Online disability applications are not currently available for disabled widows and widowers, disabled surviving divorced spouses, or disabled adult children. For information about Social Security benefits for disabled dependents, visit our article “Who Are the Four Groups of People Who May Meet the Requirements for Eligibility for Social Security Disability?”

Filing Your Application in a Social Security Office or by Telephone

You can also call Social Security’s national toll-free number (800) 772-1213 to request an in-office or telephone appointment, or you can visit your local Social Security office. You can get the address of your closest office by entering your zip code on the office-finder page of Social Security’s website, www.socialsecurity.gov. Most offices operate on an appointment basis for claims, so it may be better to call for an appointment before traveling to an office.

Information Needed for Your Disability Application

Whether you file your own application or hire a Social Security attorney, you will need to gather information for your claim. This will include the date you believe that you became disabled, the last date you worked before becoming disabled, and the dates of any work after disability began. You will also need the names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, hospitals and clinics that have information about your medical condition, as well as the approximate dates you first and last saw the providers and the conditions for which you were seen. Social Security will also ask you for the dates of any medical or psychological tests you’ve been given and who ordered them. These include physical capacity or residual functional capacity evaluations. If you have the reports from any of these tests, they can be attached to your application. And, you’ll need a list of the medications you have taken since you became disabled and the names of the practitioners who prescribed them. Usually, your pharmacy will print out a prescription history for you.

In terms of non-medical information and documents, you will need your prior year W-2 forms or Schedules C and SE if you are self-employed, information about any other benefits you have applied for, and military service discharge information from your DD-214 for all periods of active duty. You will also be asked to provide information about your last five jobs, including your duties and the dates you worked at each job. All this information will help you or your attorney complete the disability forms correctly and completely. If you are missing some of the information, you can start your claim without it and give it to the Social Security Administration as soon as you get it.

If you apply online, you will be asked to mail or deliver supporting documents, including a signed authorization for the Social Security Administration to obtain the information needed to determine your eligibility.

Finishing Your Disability Application

If you start an application, either online or in an office, and you don’t have enough information or time to complete all the forms, you can complete the application another day. The day you first contact Social Security will be your filing date, even if you do not finish the application that day, as long as you complete the application within six months.

Whatever method you use to file your claim, it is important to keep a copy of your full application for Social Security Disability and all supporting documents, just in case yours is one of the very few claims Social Security misplaces.

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  • Ms. Martinez

    Dear Kay,

    I just recently settled my Workers Comp Case. I know I should have applied for Disability at the same time. But unfortunately, either my pride thinking others need it much more OR high hopes that I would be healed and return to work and earn my paycheck.

    Sadly that’s no longer the case. I’m still unable to work not even part time.

    My question is can I apply even after receiving a settlement that may not last me long?

    Please feel free to e-mail me your reply.

    Thank you in advance,

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Ms. Martinez,

      Yes, you can apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) and should begin the application this month to avoid possible loss of benefits. The maximum retroactivity is twelve months. You can start the application online at http://www.ssa.gov or you can call 800-772-1213 to request an appointment to apply. If you start the application online, it could be helpful to print forms SSA-3368 and SSA-3369 and get started completing them with your medical information and your work history as you will have to submit them to the local office. The forms are available at https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-3368.pdf and https://www.pdffiller.com/en/project/73731634.htm?f_hash=4ef15c.

      Your SSD will be offset (reduced) for months that you received periodic workers comp benefits and for the lump sum settlemen, which will be prorated over a period of time. You can receive SSDI and workers compensation equaling eighty percent of your current average earnings (as determined by Social Security) at time of disability. This amount is usually more than either benefit alone. How current average earnings is calculated varies. If you are approved, you can ask how Social Security determined your average. When the offset ends, you will receive full benefits.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Kay

    Hello- does SSA send a letter confirming receipt of an application for SSDI? Also, what are your thoughts on Disability Insurance companies demanding application for SSDI so they can offset the amount they pay claimants? I feel that this is an illegal practice which all Disability Insurance companies participate in costing the US govt millions of dollars every year. My insurance company is demanding that I apply for SSDI even though I can work PT if the employer accepts my doctors restrictions and limitations.
    Please help me!
    Thank you.
    Kay

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kay,

      Typically, no letter of receipt is sent. Sometimes, the disability examiner will send a letter saying the claim is under review, but not always.

      It is perfectly legal for long-term-disability (LTDS) policies to require insureds to apply for Social Security Disability benefits if the insurance company thinks the insured will qualify. the policy is a legal contract that the insurance company and an individual person or entity (employer, union, association) enters into. Benefits are paid according to that contract (policy). The premiums for the insurance would be far higher if LTD were paid without reduction for Social Security Disability.

      Additionally, there are advantages to receiving part of your income from Social Security. If you continue to be disabled, it is a lifetime benefit unlike most LTD benefits. And for some people, there is a tax advantage.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Gary

    Am currently on ca.edd short term disability waiting on reply from ssdi as it seems I probably won’t be able to return to work because of m.s. will file for social security 3-2017 will short term from state affect long term or s.s. benefits

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Gary,

      If California Employment Development Department (EDD) is unemployment benefits, the benefits will not affect your Social Securit5y claim. The EDD payments will reduce or make you ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits in the months unemployment is paid. To find out whether/how unemployment benefits will affect long-term disability (LTD) benefits, get a copy of the insurance policy and review the provisions that address income from other sources.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Kim

    My daughter is 17 yrs old and will soon graduate High School. And when she turns 18 in the Fall and is a freshmen in college my disability benefits will stop for her. This will be a significant reduction in income for me is there anything that can be done or can I have my disability income income increased even just a little to offset this blow?

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Kim,

      The benefit you have been receiving for your daughter is to support her as a minor in your care. Once she is an adult and no longer in high school the benefits stop. Her benefits were being paid in addition to yours so yours will not go up. Perhaps your daughter can get a part-time job and contribute to household expenses if she will be living at home. With the reduction in income, you might qualify for SNAP benefits (formerly called food stamps.)

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Dear kay, I recently went to my local social security office for help with my application my memory and concentration are not good at this time I am seeing a psychiatrist and also AZ ADHD depression and personality mood disorder my psychiatrist has been very helpful to me and has told me that if I wanted to apply for Social Security he would be willing to help me if that’s what I wanted to do I’m at the point where I feel as though I need to I was wondering under those reasons for my medical conditions Also may I add I added in all of my medical records that I can get along with his opinion my psychiatrist I didn’t have many medical records. Special education program all my life to high school and grade school I warned up dropping out of school of 9th grade because I wasn’t receiving any help with learning and I was frustrated do you think I will be granted Social Security disability

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Karen,

        I am unable to predict whether you are disabled as defined by Social Security law, but if you are not working or are working and earning less than $1,130, I suggest that you file an application because your psychiatrist supports an application.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

  • Lou Epstein

    Hi Kay, I am longhaul teamster truck driver over 40 years. I have dealt with vision problems for years. Approximately 20 months ago my vision deteriorated enough I took myself off the road. My employer let me do some office work for minimal supplemental income. I then went on temporary disability for a knee injury for which I am still on. Since then my vision has deteriorated such that I am now legally blind. My temp disability runs out next month. I am going to apply for full disability and file for my Union retirement. My question is, should I file for total disability first before applying for my Union pension benefits? Also does either of the benefits affect one another? And, since my eyesight prevented me from working at my normal driving duties almost two years ago should I backdate my disability onset? Thank you. Lou

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Lou,

      I recommend applying for all benefits at the same time. Your union retirement and Social Security will not affect each other. it is possible that if your short-term disability overlaps with either Social Security of the union pension that you might owe a short-term disability overpayment. I suggest you check the policy so you know what to expect. (social Security has a five-month unpaid waiting period so there might not be an overlap.)

      You will not be eligible for Social Security for the period you were working in the office if you were earning at the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)level, which in 2014 was $1,040; in 2015, $1,070; and in 2016, $1,130 gross per month. so, for Social Security, claim the date you last performed SGA. I cannot advise you about the date to claim for the union pension because I do not know their regulations.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • Christine

    Hi im collecting ssi. And i need to know if i can file for renters credit. Also i noticed my work history dates it states i have work history in 1966 i was only 7years old how is this possible

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Christine,

      Regarding your first question, if the “renters credit” is a public assistance program or tax credit of some kind; it like will not affect your SSI, but you should inquire to be sure. Be prepared to explain exactly what it is or under what program it is being paid. Regarding your earnings record, you should report the error to Social Security because it means that someone accidentally had earnings reported on a wrong number and is not getting credit for them.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

  • I need disability for mental sickness. I don’t want to b hospitalized or reEvaluated…I’ll brake me down. Email born2bsexie@gmail.com

    • Kay Derochie

      Dear Erica,

      To be approved for and receive disability benefits, you have to submit proof that your mental illness keeps you from working. This means that you either have to be treated and evaluated by your own psychiatrist so your doctor can submit a report and records and/or you have to attend a psychiatric consultative examination arranged and paid for by the Social Security Administration.

      Sincerely,
      Kay

    • Rose Morse

      If you have MEDICALLY FRAIL can you receive SSI benefits?

      • Kay Derochie

        Dear Rose,

        If specific diagnoses cause you to be medically frail, you may qualify for Social Security (SSDI) or SSI disability benefits. For SSDI you must be below full retirement age and for SSI you must be under age sixty-five.

        Sincerely,
        Kay

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