What Are the Steps Involved In Filing For Social Security Disability?

A single tell-tale sign that a culture is advanced is how it treats its seniors and disabled population.

For example, those who suffer from injury, protracted illness, or congenital pathology of the body or mind often have difficulty finding a place in the job market. In addition, the simple capacity to get around can likewise be a challenge. These are the reasons for societal “safety nets” – to aid those who suffer from limited capacity, through no fault of their own, to navigate life without the crushing forces of poverty and isolation. This is where Social Security disability benefits come into play.

A History Of Social Security And Disability Benefits

What most people understand as Social Security, i.e., a participant-funded insurance program to be redeemed at the time of retirement, was made law by the United States Congress in 1935. Responsible for administering this vast program to assist the aged is the Social Security Administration (SSA). In addition to retired persons, SSA also partially provided – in partnership with states – for certain needy elderly individuals and those who have blindness.

Nearly 30 years after its inception, the SSA took full charge of these “adult categories” by instituting the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Ensuing years saw tweaks to SSI relative to cost of living adjustments (COLAs) and work incentives. In addition, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides benefits to those who have worked for a certain period, paying into Social Security while working.

Who Is Eligible Now For SSI?

The Social Security Administration applies a five-point test as an initial threshold for a disability to qualify for benefits:

  • Is the applicant presently working? This question goes to the issue of substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA demands a certain dollar amount of compensation, so the applicant will be rejected if the work is SGA. Some work, though, is not SGA.
  • Is the disabling condition “severe,” i.e., does it inhibit the capacity to perform rudimentary work-related tasks and executions? If the determination is made in the negative, the application is rejected.
  • Does the condition appear on SSA’s list of disabling maladies? If it does, the application moves forward. Otherwise, further evaluation is needed.
  • Does the condition preclude doing anything the applicant had done previously? If not, a decision is made as to whether it is feasible to return to such income-producing activity.
  • Is there any GSA work the applicant can perform?

Other factors may mitigate these broad questions, but they can indicate an application’s success ahead of submission. It is best to let a social security lawyer review your case before you do anything. A specialised attorney will do their best to strengthen your case and ensure there is nothing about your application that might grant a denial. 

How To Apply For Disability Benefits

Step 1: Collect all documentation about the disabling condition

Nothing is trivial here, so if it is tangentially related to the condition, make a copy and include it with the application. These could include test results, hospital bills, nursing reports, social worker evaluations, etc.

Step 2: Compare the information against the Adult Disability Checklist

This checklist is a tool to ensure all the supporting documents are complete. It also assures every question the SSA has can be answered quickly and efficiently.

Step 3: Complete the application and submit it

The application can be presented online or mailed in as a hard copy document. Alternatively, the applicant can complete the paperwork on-site at a local SSA office.

Step 4: Get updates on the status of the application

Those who apply electronically have the option of opening a MySocialSecurity account. Through this portal, applicants can discover at what stage of evaluation the application sits. Otherwise, petitioners can call 1-800-772-1213 on weekdays. The final determination will be issued by mail.

Bottom Line

Filing for SSD benefits is challenging, and many claims get denied. The best course of action is to hire an attorney to help you prepare your case and maximise your chances. If your claim is denied, your lawyer will help you appeal the decision and go through all the motions to receive the benefits you need.

Mark Scott bio

Comments are closed.