The Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs offer monthly support to help you cover your bills, living expenses, and medical costs.
Benefits are often available to dependents as well and can keep your family above water even when a serious medical condition stops you from working.
Free Social Security Disability Help
If you’re struggling to apply for disability or you need help with the application you can get free Social Security disability help from:
When it comes to needing help applying for disability, disability lawyers are invaluable free resources. Social Security disability attorneys work on a contingency basis. That means you don’t have to pay upfront to talk to them or get their help. They are paid a percentage of the back pay that you get when your claim is approved and you start to receive benefits.
Back pay is money paid to you by the SSA when you start to receive benefits. It’s payment for the months between when you first applied for disability and when your claim was approved. So for example, if you applied for disability benefits on December 1st and your claim wasn’t approved until May 1st, you’d receive five months of back pay in addition to your monthly benefit for May. The lawyer’s fee for helping you would be taken from that back pay.
Advocates are people like social workers who will help you determine what benefits you’re qualified for. They also can help you gather up the documents and ID you’ll need to apply and they can help you fill out and submit the application. Advocates don’t charge upfront. Just like Social Security disability lawyers, they are paid from the back pay that you receive.
If you make an appointment at your local Social Security Administration office and bring all of your ID and documentation to the appointment you can submit your application there. A staff member at the SSA office will help you fill out the application and make sure it's submitted correctly.
If you have family members that can help you they are allowed to fill out and submit the application for you. If you’re the parent of a child with a disability or illness and you’re applying on their behalf you are allowed to fill out and submit the application for them.
If you don’t have any family close by who can help you it’s also ok to have a friend or even a caregiver help you fill out the application for disability benefits.
Components of Filing for Disability
- Medical records in the form of a doctor’s assessment, medical history, especially the date of the first symptoms of the disability, how it developed and its current status. The SSA will want to see evidence that the symptoms of your disability match the criteria described in the appropriate Blue Book listing. If you have had a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment, then details should be made available to the SSA. This is because the SSA ultimately will want to see evidence that you are unable to perform your normal work for at least the next 12 months and the ability to transition to other forms of employment.
- Pay stubs and any other evidence of work history and social security insurance contributions. These are necessary when filing for disability through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pathway. SSD benefits are available to applicants who can show that they have accumulated sufficient work credits. 4 work credits for each year of work may be credited. The SSA requires different total numbers of work credits depending on your age, 40 being an average figure.
- Settlement agreements and any other documents you may have such as those that prove you are receiving temporary workers’ compensation benefits. Settlement agreements may establish why you are no longer employed, in particular how the limitations of your disability were involved in the termination of employment. Any settlement amounts and workers’ compensation payments may be taken into consideration after filing for disability benefits as the SSA will be unlikely to grant benefits to any applicant already receiving more than the figure established as significant gainful activity (SGA).
Who Can Help When Applying for Disability Benefits?
While the disability application process is long, involved, and can be confusing for some, applying for benefits is well worth the effort. If you need help applying for disability benefits, you can get help with your claim from various sources, so you don’t have to go through the process alone. Attorneys, advocates, family members, doctors, and SSA representatives can help you when filing for disability.
If you are unable to work because of a medical condition and you plan to apply for disability benefits form the Social Security Administration (SSA), you may need help to get through the process. There are many conditions that qualify for disability benefits.
Many people need help during the claims process, and you can get help from someone throughout the process. You can enlist the help of a disability advocate or an attorney, or you can have a friend, relative, or caregiver get your application together and filed.
Further Reading: What Conditions Qualify For Disability?
What Can You Do If You Need Help Applying for Disability Benefits?
Often times, if someone can no longer work because they have a disability, they may need help applying for disability benefits.
If you need help filing for disability, you don’t have to worry about not being able to apply on your own. There are resources out there for your assistance.
If you need help filing and applying for disability, you can have someone else help apply on your behalf. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor or doctors to make sure you have all of your paperwork in order before you apply for disability.
You are able to apply online for both SSI and SSDI benefits now and you can have a family member or a friend with you in front of the computer applying on your behalf.
Further Reading: What Is SSI?
You also are able to call the SSA’s toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 or your local SSA office’s phone number and speak with a representative and they can also help you apply for disability benefits on your behalf as well.
It is always recommended to reach out to the SSA directly if you have any specific questions regarding your application. If you work with a social services representative, or if you are currently working with a disability attorney, they are also able to help you with your application if you cannot apply yourself and you need help filing for disability.
Anyone you feel comfortable with can help you apply and file for disability if you can’t to it yourself. You just need to make sure you trust them enough and that you have all of your paperwork in order before applying.
Any specific questions regarding to your claim should be directed to an SSA representative.
Who Can Help When I'm Filing For Disability Benefits?
A disability benefit from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can help you with living expenses when you are no longer able to work because of your disability, but the process of applying for the benefit can seem challenging without help. Fortunately, there are many ways that someone else can help you with the application process such as help from a:
- doctor or other medical professional;
- family member of a friend;
- SSA representative;
- the Disability Benefits Center.
How Can You Get Extra Help Applying For Disability Benefits?
A doctor can help you determine whether your disability is severe enough to match the criteria in the SSA’s Blue Book, which is the primary method the SSA uses to approve disability benefit applications. Your doctor and other medical professionals will also be central to the success of your application as their assessments, reports of tests, scans and treatment and medical records will be required to support your application.
Family members and friends can assist you when you make an application online or even go with you when you attend an interview at a SSA office.
You can always call for help with your application by contacting a SSA office. An SSA representative can explain how you apply and what you need to provide to support your application.
Can I Get Help With Disability Application Paperwork?
Some of the paperwork needed when applying for disability benefits can be challenging. You can get help with the disability paperwork. A family member, SSA employee, doctor or attorney may be able to provide disability application help. They may be able to help you fill out the paperwork or explain what information you need for the application paperwork.
Can I Enlist the Help of Friends or Family When Filing For Disability?
Friends or family members can help you get ready to apply and can even help fill out your disability forms. With Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, an online application is offered, and someone else can fill out your forms with you or for you.
If a friend or family member applies on your behalf, the SSA will follow up with you to have you sign the appropriate documents.
It’s important to note that you can use the SSDI online application to start your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application too. The SSA will accept these online documents and will contact you to finish up your SSI claim.
A friend or family member can help with this too and can even be present during the required SSI phone or in-person interview.
Can I Tap into Social Service Options When Applying For SSDI?
Social service workers, disability advocates, and others can help with disability applications in some cases. For example, in many states, family social services staff often assists parents and guardians in applying for SSI benefits on behalf of a disabled child.
Use SSA Resources
Representatives at SSA field offices are available to help you apply for SSI and/or SSDI benefits and establish if you may qualify. You can make an appointment by calling 1-800-772-1213 or you can stop by your local office.
A friend, family member, or Social Security advocate or attorney can even attend your local office meeting with you, if you feel you need additional assistance.
The SSA also understands that disabled persons aren’t always able to attend their own application meetings. Someone else can apply on your behalf and the SSA will follow up with you to obtain signatures and consents for filing your claim.
Can My Doctor Help With My Disability Claim?
Your doctor is a primary partner in not only your medical care but also your disability application. He or she can provide you with the help you need when applying for disability. More specifically, he or she can review the Blue Book listing with you, help you gather evidence, fill out forms, and submit required records.
The SSA will likely request information and records directly from your doctor too, so be sure to communicate openly with your physician about your disability application and request his or her assistance as needed.
Can I Apply for Disability for Someone Else?
Yes, you are able to apply for disability for someone else. Like for example, if you are a parent applying on behalf of a child with a disability or a caregiver applying on a loved one’s behalf because they cannot do it themselves.
If you are filing for disability benefits for someone else, you should have make sure whoever you are applying for, their information to be up to date, such as all of their medical paperwork and work records if you are applying for SSDI benefits on their behalf.
If you have any further questions regarding what paperwork you need or any specific questions regarding the application process, you can also seek the counsel of a disability attorney who can help with the filing process as well.
What Are Representative Payees?
If you are approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the SSA can appoint a representative payee for individuals who either cannot manage their own money, or who cannot take care of all their own finances.
This person can be a caregiver, a relative, a friend, or someone who has agreed to take on these responsibilities as needed. The representative payee has several responsibilities when they take on this task.
The main responsibilities of the representative payee are to use the benefits to take care of the current and future needs of the beneficiary. They must properly save any proceeds that are not needed at the present time to take care of the individual’s current needs.
You must report how all payments are spent and maintain records and receipts that show all the funds were spent for the claimant. You should be able to determine the needs of the beneficiary and then make sure the funds are used to meet those needs.
You will be required to complete an accounting report and submit it to SSA to show how you used the funds, and you should return any money to the SSA that the beneficiary wasn’t entitled to receive.
How Do I Choose A Representative Payee?
You want to choose a trustworthy person, who is best qualified to manage your funds, as the representative payee. This could be your relative, friend, caregiver, or even your legal guardian or attorney. The claimant can propose his or her own representative payee or the SSA may appoint one for you.
You would want to take the individual that you recommend as your representative payee with you to the SSA office. A form will need to be completed and submitted along with copies of identification.
If you want to change your payee at any time, you will need to contact the SSA. You will go to the local field office and request a change of payee. You will be given a form to complete so you can make the request. A SSA representative can provide the guidance that you need if you need help completing the form or if you have any questions about the process of switching representative payees.
How Do You Use The Blue Book For Your Disability Claim?
The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if an individual meets the medical criteria to be approved for disability benefits. The Blue Book is the list of conditions that qualify for disability. The person who is helping you with your disability claim can help you review the Blue Book and determine which listing or listings are applicable to your situation.
They will then help you determine if you meet the criteria of a listing so your claim can be approved. You will want to provide supporting evidence that shows your condition meets the criteria of a listing.
The person who is helping you can help you gather supporting documentation and evidence for your claim. That evidence may include medical records, surgical notes, test results, treatment files, statements from co-workers and managers, your work history, and details that show any treatment you have undergone and how you responded to the treatment.
You will want to talk with your physician. The wording of the Blue Book is very technical, and a physician will be able to determine if your condition meets the listing and whether he or she believes you would qualify for disability benefits.
Your physician can also provide a letter and other supporting documentation for your claim to help you be approved for disability benefits. It is very beneficial to have your physician’s support throughout the claims process.
Your physician can provide the necessary documentation and evidence that you need to ensure your claim has the evidence that Disability Determination Services (DDS) needs to fairly evaluate your disability claim and to determine whether you qualify.
You will need to keep track of your work history. This means that you will need to come up with a detailed list of all the jobs that you have worked in the last 10 years up until you became disabled.
You will need to include the name of the employer, the address and phone number, your job title, and your work responsibilities. Disability Determination Services (DDS) will go through the evidence to determine if you are able to return to the same line of work.
Can I Seek Legal Help With My Claim?
A disability lawyer or advocate can assist you throughout your entire claim, from start to finish. He or she can help gather evidence, counsel you on application and documentation strategies, and represent your interests during the review and appeals stages, if necessary.
A disability lawyer can help you apply for disability. They can help make sure that every paperwork is older before you apply so that the application process is smooth.
A lawyer can help file for disability by consulting with your doctor making sure you have all the right records and tests to show that you can no longer work because of your disability. Disability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case.
Even if you have a team of others helping with various steps in the disability review, your lawyer can be your go-to person for understanding SSA processes, disability documentation and eligibility, and denial and appeal procedures.
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