How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability?

Brad BotesIn today’s blog entry I thought I’d get back to basics and revisit how exactly to apply for Social Security (SSA) disability benefits.

Filing an SSA Disability Benefits Claim

Typically there are three ways an individual can file a claim for disability benefits with the SSA:  over the internet, in person or by telephone.  The SSA does offer a handy Disability Starter Kit that outlines the process and what materials will be needed to complete it.

Filing Online

If one is feeling adventurous and has plenty of time on their hands they may try their luck at filing an application over the internet.  In my experience, more often than not individuals run into some kind of technical roadblock or get sidetracked into filing for retirement, etc.  In other words, not many people seem to be able to successfully utilize this option.

Filing In-Person

The next available avenue a claimant may pursue in their application for disability benefits is to make an appointment to meet with an SSA representative in person.  Typically the SSA will set an appointment for the individual for a certain date and time and invariably the claimant will wind up sitting in a crowded waiting room way past the appointed time until the SSA representative is able to get around to them.  Trust me, this is not a pleasant experience.

Filing By Phone

Finally, the third option is to set up a telephone appointment where the SSA will schedule a time and date to call you at home, usually within a couple of weeks’ time.  This is the best option in my opinion as if it is late calling you, at worst you will be sitting around in the comfort of your own home waiting it out rather than stressing over the internet application or feeling stuck in the waiting room for who knows how long.

As part of the application process, among others, the SSA will send you a few forms to fill out, primarily a Work History Report form and a Disability Report - Adult form, to return to it.  It may be obvious on their faces, but the former outlines what work the claimant has performed in the last 15 years and the latter what ailments they have been diagnosed with that they feel qualify them for disability benefits.

Next Steps in the Process

Once the application for disability benefits has been completed and submitted the SSA field office then generally it forwards the claim to the Disability Determination Service (DDS).  The DDS is supposed to order all relevant medical records, review same, make a determination on whether or not the claimant is disabled, then send the decision back up the chain and ultimately to the applicant.

At this point -- in Alabama -- the person is usually denied.  In my last blog entry, I detailed the dismal approval rate for the state, roughly 27%.  But as I also pointed out, the claimant’s chances of success only increase on appeal to the hearing level so I always counsel my clients that the initial turndown is not necessarily an indication of the merits of their case so don’t give up now.  Appeal!

Contact an SSA Disability Benefits Attorney Today

If you or your child have been denied SSA disability benefits or suffer from a severe impairment that is expected to last for more than twelve months and that prevents you from doing any of your past or other work or is causing developmental delay in your child, please contact our office nearest to you to set up a free consultation appointment to discuss your situation.

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