For the millions of Americans suffering from disabilities, Social Security benefits are extremely necessary. From additional monthly income to health insurance benefits to potential benefits for family members, Social Security is an invaluable resource for those unable to work.
Unfortunately, the disability application process can be tricky, time-consuming, and hard to complete without mistakes. Because of this, it is often recommended that applicants speak with a Social Security disability attorney before applying.
However, if you think you may qualify for Social Security benefits, you can also submit your application on your own. Continue below to learn how to qualify for benefits and what you will need to provide on your application.
All Social Security applications are evaluated by first using the “Blue Book”. This book lists all disabilities approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the requirements one needs for qualification.
The Blue Book is available online for anyone looking to see if their diagnosis will qualify. It is also helpful to see what paperwork the SSA requires you to submit with your application.
For example: if an adult with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) wants to see if they medically qualify for benefits, they can turn to section 3.00 of the Blue Book: “Respiratory Disorders - Adult”.
There, they will find a chart showing how restricted their breathing must be for a person of their age/weight/height to qualify as disabled. If they aren’t sure of their breathing capacity, the Blue Book lists multiple tests (spirometry tests, DLCO tests, oxygen saturation tests, etc.) that can be performed by a physician to check. These tests would then be included on the application.
The SSA also evaluates income and past work when looking over your application. Depending on your history, you may qualify for different benefits.
For those who make under a certain amount or have been unable to work due to their diagnosis, SSI may be the best option. SSI eligibility is determined regardless of past work history and can be awarded to any disabled person without enough income.
For adults with a past work history, SSDI may also be an option. Qualification for these benefits depends on how much money an individual has contributed to Social Security in relation to their age. For certain applicants, it is even possible to receive SSI and SSDI at the same time.
Before applying for either program, it is important to have all paperwork of income and past work on hand. Notes from past bosses and coworkers can also be included to help show your inability to work due to your disability. This will also help the SSA determine when your disability started, so they can decide when payments should begin.
Applying for Benefits
Applications for SSDI can be found on the SSA’s main website. FAQs and other important information can also be found here if you have any questions about the application or the process. Applications can also be filed in person at your local Social Security office.
Applications for SSI are currently unavailable online. However, it is recommended that the Online Application for Disability Benefits be filled out prior to applying for benefits.
While this isn’t the official application, the information provided can be transferred to your application and helps to start the disability process. An appointment can then be made to fill out an application by calling your local Social Security office.
Next Steps You Can Take
For those having trouble on the application or in need of further assistance, it may still be wise to consider speaking with a Social Security disability attorney.
A disability attorney is an irreplaceable resource when filing out applications, keeping paperwork organized, and aiding you in the appeals process if necessary. They are also required to not take pay unless you accept their help and your case is won.
To give yourself the best chance at receiving the assistance you deserve, speak with a disability attorney today.