The Social Security Disability application is long and complex. To improve the chance of enjoying a successful result, avoid making mistakes. For instance, don’t collect unemployment while you’re waiting for the outcome of a Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) application. Don’t continue to work after requesting SSDI benefits.
Many successful first-time SSDI applicants engage an experienced SSDI attorney from the start. Social Security attorneys are paid on results. If you’re in doubt about retaining an attorney because of the out-of-pocket expense, know that Social Security will pay your attorney from your paid benefits claim. If you’re not approved for SSDI, your Social Security lawyer won’t send invoices requiring payments during the Social Security Disability application and evaluation process.
Social Security Disability Application Process
Every U.S. taxpayer pays into the Social Security system. If the Social Security beneficiary becomes totally disabled and he or she isn’t able to perform employment duties, it’s possible to apply for SSDI.
Step 1: Visit the Social Security Administration website. Click on “Disability and SSI” and scroll down to “Qualify and apply.” It’s possible to complete the Social Security Disability application online. Select whether you’re submitting an application for SSDI benefits for a child or an adult.
Step 3: Click on the “Adult Disability Starter Kit.” The kit offers answers to commonly asked questions about Social Security Disability income benefits. It contains a worksheet to help you obtain the required data needed to properly file for SSDI.
Step 4: Click to the “Online Application for Social Security Benefits” now. Answer the questions on the SSDI application and “Continue” to review information on the SSA.gov site regarding SSDI. Fill out the full Social Security Disability application online.
Step 5: After completing the SSDI online application, provide your medical history and authorize SSA to access and/or request medical records (SSA “Adult Disability Report”).
Many disabled people say the SSDI application is complex. It’s possible to partially complete the application and return to your work later. When in doubt, don’t guess about the information you must supply to Social Security. Avoid making mistakes on the Social Security Disability application.
Social Security Disability Application Mistakes
Avoid these Social Security Disability application and interview mistakes:
Mistake 1: Don’t make the mistake of applying for unemployment insurance benefits after completing the SSDI application. Filing for SSDI means you’ve been physically or mentally unable to perform what Social Security considers substantial work activity for at least twelve months. You’re telling SSA that you’re likely to be unable to do substantial work activity for the next year or longer because you’re either physically and/or mentally impaired.
When you submit an unemployment insurance application, you certify to the state that you’re ready and able to work. You’re telling the Department of Unemployment that you believe it’s possible to find work that you can perform. Your state rules may require you to state that you are able to work full-time in the near future.
Sometimes, applicants make the mistake of concurrently collecting unemployment insurance and SSDI payments. Most experienced Social Security attorneys advise against this practice. If SSA learns you’re collecting unemployment, your SSDI claim is likely to be denied.
Although SSA doesn’t officially prevent a claimant from receiving unemployment insurance benefits after he or she has applied for SSDI, the disability claims division or Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) wants to know if the claimant is disabled.
When the claimant tells the state unemployment division that he or she can work—and that he or she applied for open jobs in the recent past—SSA will consider what types of job applications he or she submitted. If the claimant applied to physically demanding jobs while claiming disability, SSA probably won’t believe the claimant is seriously disabled. Similarly, if the claimant is still working after claiming he or she is disabled, SSA is likely to deny the application for SSDI benefits.
Mistake 2: If you’re asking SSA to approve a Social Security Disability Application, you should quit a current job if you earn more than USD 1,130 (2016) each month. SSA says that anyone earning above this amount is considered substantial gainful activity. (SGA) Each year, SGA is adjusted to the price-wage index.
If you’re earning a higher wage than SGA, you won’t receive SSDI or SSI. This will result even when you present facts about a disabling medical or psychological condition that temporarily decreased your ability to earn an income. If you continue to work even if you’re fatigued or in terrible pain, SSA probably won’t approve your request for SSDI benefits.
Mistake 3: After submitting the Social Security Disability application, continue to communicate with SSA. If your condition worsens, it’s important to send new medical records information to SSA regarding your case.
Check the status of your SSDI claim every two to three weeks after submitting the online application. Keep in mind that the local SSA office processes many claims for SSDI benefits each day. The status of each claim may differ. Loss of documents faxed or mailed to SSA can get lost as well.
If SSA doesn’t advise that documents are needed to continue to evaluate your SSDI application, your claim will be put aside and it won’t progress to the next step. It’s possible to lose weeks or months because the claims examiner didn’t get the fax or open the envelope.
Assume that Social Security will lose paperwork and, in that case, check in with your local SSA examiner at agreed upon intervals. Ask for SSA’s fax number and send documents to a specific examiner. Put your name, birth date, and SSA application date on every sheet of paper you send to Social Security.
Taking a proactive approach can help to expedite your Social Security Disability application. If you hire a Social Security lawyer to assist in the preparation of your Social Security Disability application, learn the names of the paralegals on your team. Interact with them regularly to ensure that SSA has everything needed to process and approve your claim.