What do I need to know when applying for Social Security Disability?
The best source of information for Social Security Disability can be found at the Social Security Administration (SSA) website: www.ssa.gov. This site is user-friendly and provides online options for applying for benefits, calculating estimated benefits, and getting answers to commonly asked questions. It also explains the Social Security Administration’s five-step process for determining disability.
If you prefer not to apply online, call 1-800-772-1213 to apply over the phone, or go to the local Social Security office. In any case, it is important you always be truthful; never exaggerate or minimize a disability. And always provide as much detail as possible, including providers’ names, addresses, dates of treatment, tests, medications, and any limitations assigned.
Typically, the older a claimant is, the easier it will be to get approved. For example, if you are over age 55 and cannot do any of the jobs you have done in the past 15 years, you should definitely apply. Similarly, if you are over age 50 and have a severe impairment that keeps you from doing all but the easiest jobs, you should apply. But you do not have to be completely incapacitated to qualify, even if you are younger than age 50. That being said, inability to work and being found “disabled” by the SSA are two different things.
Once you have applied, do not forget to appeal any denials and be careful not to miss deadlines. A missed deadline usually means you have to start over with a new application and it can result in lost back benefits. So it is important to appeal all denials within 60 days. Prompt appeals can also shorten the time it takes to get approved.