When you need help because you can no longer work, you might turn to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Managed by the Social Security Administration (Social Security), this program pays monthly benefits to qualified applicants. But the SSDI application process can be challenging to most people. We’ve covered that process in earlier blogs. But revisiting it could shed some new light on the topic.
Where Does the SSDI Application Process Start?
You can start as soon as you can no longer work. Generally, people apply for SSDI:
- In person,
- By telephone, or
However, please note that COVID-19 limitations on in-person services might still be in place. It’s best to call to make sure an office is open before attempting anything in person.
You can find the SSDI application online or by going to your local Social Security Office. Better yet, talk to an experienced disability lawyer. You might feel you cannot afford an attorney, but they generally are paid through Social Security.
Social Security does provide a checklist to use when applying for benefits. The checklist can give you a good idea of what documentation you need and other information you will need to provide.
What Supporting Documents Are Needed?
The application itself is about seven pages long and asks for a lot of information. But that’s not all you need to send Social Security during the SSDI application process. You also have to provide the following supporting documents:
- Your Social Security Card,
- Original birth certificate,
- Military discharge records for service prior to 1968,
- W-2 forms or a self-employment tax return for the previous year,
- Completed Adult Disability Report that contains your medical history and work history,
- Medical records you already have in your possession, and
- Settlement agreements, pay stubs, or other proof of any temporary or permanent benefits you received.
Gather as many of the supporting documents as possible and hand them off to your disability lawyers. They will know how to proceed. It’s important to note that Social Security usually does not expect people to contact medical providers to obtain records. It’s usually okay to give them copies of what you have and then give Social Security permission to gather the rest.
If you decide to go it alone, remember that certain documents must be originals. For example, Social Security will not accept copies of your birth certificate.
What Happens After I Submit My SSDI Application?
Soon afterward, you and your lawyer will hear from Social Security. They will schedule an interview to discuss your application and ask for more information from you. After a thorough review of your SSDI application, you will get a letter approving or denying your claim.
Social Security denies more than 50% of first-time SSDI applications. So, there’s a good possibility you and your lawyer will have to consider whether to appeal the denial or not. The SSDI appeal process consists of four stages:
- Requesting a Reconsideration,
- Having an Administrative Law Judge review your case,
- Requesting a review by the Appeals Council, and
- Filing a lawsuit in United States District Court.
Your claim could be denied again during the three stages, adjusted, or approved. The U.S. District Court typically sends cases back to Social Security for reconsideration if they believe there is merit to your claim.
Call to Learn How We Help Clients Navigate the SSDI Application Process
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have helped many clients resolve SSDI application issues. We also help with other disability benefits, including SSI and California disability. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.