As caregiver for someone with a serious medical condition, you help out wherever you can, and applying for disability benefits for your loved one’s behalf is just another way you can assist. The Social Security Administration (SSA) knows many disability applicants are unable to handle the application process themselves, and there are standard processes that allow you to complete most, if not all, of the required SSI and/or SSDI application forms.
Preparing to Apply for Social Security
The SSA’s Adult Disability Starter Kit is an application preparation tool. Be sure to review the entire kit and to complete the Medical and Job Worksheet, which you’ll use as a “cheat sheet” throughout the application processes. You’ll no doubt reference back to this form time and again, and getting all the necessary details organized in advance ensures you provide consistent and correct information to the SSA on the various application forms.
Online Social Security Application
Anyone can apply for benefits on behalf of a loved one via the SSA’s website. Although the application portal is designed for SSDI in particular, this online process can also jumpstart your SSI disability claim. The SSA will review the application for SSDI eligibility and will contact you and your loved one to finalize the SSI application process as well.
Local SSA Office Interviews
An SSA representative will walk you through the application processes if you visit a local field office. He or she will take information about you, as the application completer, and all the details of your loved one’s application for disability. This application interview generates all the necessary forms for applying for SSDI and/or SSI.
Becoming an Official Representative with the SSA
If your loved one needs you to consistently handle business with the SSA, then you’ll want to review the information on the Appointment of an SSA Representative. Your loved one will need to complete the form SSA-1696-U4 to appoint you as his or her representative for official business. While this may be a step your loved one needs moving forward, you do not have to hold representative status to fill out the initial application for benefits.
Signatures Required for Application
Although the SSA allows you to complete disability applications on behalf of a loved one, you cannot sign on his or her behalf. Instead, you’ll complete the required forms and/or the SSI application interview, and the SSA will contact your loved one to review the application, verify the information you provided, and sign all of the necessary forms.
Getting Help with a Disability Claim
You’ll need to work closely with your loved one and his or her doctor to review medical eligibility details and collect the required evidence for approval. You may also consider discussing the potential benefits of hiring an attorney or working with a disability advocate, especially if your loved one’s medical condition is not among the SSA’s Blue Book disability listings. If the application is initially denied, a disability attorney or advocate can assist with filing appeals and can represent your loved one at the appeal hearing as well.