The Disability Application Process
Whether you apply online, by phone, or in person, the disability benefits application process follows these general steps:
- You gather the information and documents you need to apply. We recommend you print and review the . It will help you gather the information you need to complete the application.
- You complete and submit your application.
- We review your application to make sure you meet some for disability benefits.
- We check whether you worked enough years to qualify.
- We evaluate any current work activities.
- We process your application and forward your case to the Disability Determination Services office in your state.
- This State agency makes the disability determination decision.
To learn more about who decides if you are disabled, read our publication .
Once You’ve Applied
Once we receive your application, well review it and contact you if we have questions. We might request additional documents from you before we can proceed
Look For Our Response
Youll receive a letter in the mail with our decision. If you included information about other family members when you applied, well let you know if they may be able to receive benefits on your record.
Check The Status
You can check the status of your application online using your personal mySocial Security account. If you are unable to check your status online, you can call us 1-800-772-1213 from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Appeal A Decision
Number Of Credits Needed For Disability Benefits
To be eligible for disability benefits, you must meet a recent work test and a duration work test.
The number of credits necessary to meet the recent work test depends on your age. The rules are as follows:
- Before age 24 – You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.
- Age 24 to 31 In general, you may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time your disability began. As a general example, if you develop a disability at age 27, you would need 3 years of work out of the past 6 years .
- Age 31 or older – In general, you must have at least 20 credits in the 10-year period immediately before your disability began.
The following table shows how many years of work credits you need to meet the duration of work test based on your age when your disability began. For the duration of work test, your work does not have to fall within a certain period. The table only provides an estimate of how many work credits you need. It does not cover all situations. If you are statutorily blind, you must only meet the duration of work test. When statutory blindness is involved, there is not a recent work test requirement.
NOTE: This table is an estimate only and does not cover all situations
|If you develop a disability…||Then you generally need:|
What Is A Social Security Card
Your Social Security card is an important piece of identification. You’ll need one to get a job, collect Social Security, or receive other government benefits.
When you apply for a Social Security number , the Social Security Administration will assign you a nine-digit number. This is the same number that is printed on the Social Security card that SSA will issue you. If you change your name, you will need to get a corrected card.
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What Happens If The Dac Gets Married
If the child receives benefits as a DAC, the benefits generally end if they get married. However, some marriages are considered protected.
The rules vary depending on the situation. Contact a Social Security representative at 1-800-772-1213 to find out if the benefits can continue.
To speed up the application process, complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of your appointment.
Iv: What Financing Issues Does Ssdi Face
SSDI costs have leveled off, but the program faces a long-run funding gap. SSDI costs have stabilized as the baby boomers move from their peak disability-prone years to their peak retirement years. But SSDIs costs will still exceed its revenues. Over the next 75 years, its shortfall is projected to be about 6 percent of the programs costs or income.
SSDI has financial challenges but doesnt face bankruptcy. The payroll taxes that workers contribute out of every paycheck fund most of SSDIs costs. In addition, SSDI has built up trust fund reserves, which Social Securitys trustees estimate will last until 2065. At that point, tax revenues will be enough to pay for 92 percent of benefits even if policymakers do nothing to strengthen Social Securitys financing .
Though the SSDI trust fund has enough funding for more than three decades, policymakers must address overall Social Security financing before then.Overall, Social Security can pay full benefits for 16 more years, the trustees annual report shows, but then faces a significant, though manageable, funding shortfall. Policymakers should address Social Securitys long-term shortfall primarily by increasing Social Securitys tax revenues. Social Security will necessarily require an increasing share of our nations resources as the population ages, and polls show a widespread willingness to pay more to strengthen the program.
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People Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision
If you are blind or have low vision, Social Security offers several adjustments to disability benefits to accommodate the additional difficulties associated with loss of sight.
These accommodations include being able to work toward Social Security credits after you become blind, delayed benefits that will increase if you continue to work without receiving disability benefits and a higher monthly salary cap.
Social Security Works Aggressively To Prevent Detect And Prosecute Fraud
Social Security, along with the Office of the Inspector General, identifies and aggressively prosecutes those who commit fraud. Our zero tolerance approach has resulted in a fraud incidence rate that is a fraction of one percent.
One of our most effective measures to guard against fraud is the Cooperative Disability Investigations program. Under the program, we investigate suspicious disability claims early, before making a decision to award benefits. In effect, we proactively stop fraud before it happens. In fiscal year 2018, with the help of state and local law enforcement, the program reported nearly $188.5 million in projected savings to the disability programs. This resulted in a return on investment of $17 for each $1 spent.
Eradicating fraud is a team effort. We need people who suspect something to say something. If you suspect fraud, please visit the Office of the Inspector General and select Report Fraud, Waste, or Abuse or call 1-800-269-0271.
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File A Claim For Social Security Disability Benefits With The Social Security Administration
If you find yourself unable to work due to a mental or physical condition, dont expect anyone from the federal government to come to your door with a social security disability application. You must file the claim yourself. A social security disability application can be filed at your local social security administration office . Find your local social security office by entering your zip code at this social security administration web page: . You can also file a disability application online at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/.
Many prospective disability applicants worry about filing the right disability application. Realize, however, that you are not expected to know the details of disability program qualification: social security personnel are trained to take the appropriate disability claim.
What Are The Income Limits In Order To Not Qualify For Benefits
If you are currently exceeding the SGA limit of $1350/mo for the year after the disability occurred, then you will not be approved for disability because you wonât qualify. But letâs say that you did qualify and started receiving benefits. Now, you must be careful not to exceed the income limit calculated above, so you can continue to receive your disability benefits. Unless, of course, you intend to return to full-time gainful activity as an employee or self-employed person â if youâre capable of doing so.
Most people asking the question, âHow much can I earn while on social security disabilityâ want to stay on disability but also want to take advantage of the trial work incentive to increase their income. Thatâs certainly okay, but if you choose to do this, itâs vital that you know your upper limit. While the upper limit is the same for most people, if you receive SSI, social security retirement income, or are self-employed, you have some math to do, and you donât want to get that math wrong. Itâs certainly advisable to discuss this with a disability lawyer, and they may offer a free consultation.
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How To Receive Federal Benefits
To begin receiving your federal benefits, like Social Security or veterans benefits, you must sign up for electronic payments with direct deposit.
If You Have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Call the Go Direct Helpline at .
If You Don’t have a Bank or Credit Union Account:
- Direct Express debit card – a pre-paid debit card. Get help by calling the Go Direct Helpline at .
Make Changes to an Existing Direct Deposit Account:
On Go Direct’s FAQ page, learn how to make changes to an existing direct deposit account. You also may contact the federal agency that pays your benefit for help with your enrollment.
Filing Appeals To Help You Get Disability
In most states, you have the options of a reconsideration appeal and a disability hearing appeal. The reconsideration comes after your disability application is denied. If the request for reconsideration is also denied , you can ask for a hearing.
The disability hearing appeal is where you will have your best chance to get your disability. Usually, more than half of all hearings result in an approval.
Why does the disability hearing have better odds?
The hearing is where you will meet the person deciding your case and this is where you can present statements from your doctors. The hearing is also where a lawyer can prepare your case, submit additional evidence, and argue that your case meets the Social Security definition of disability.
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Four Tips To Get Disability
How do you get disability?
How to get disability? Its not a question anyone will ever think of unless they have a serious physical or mental condition that limits their ability to work. Unfortunately, thats when they find out how long and frustrating the disability claim process can be.
On this page, I present four good tips to improve your chances of getting disability. They are useful because they actually address the two areas of evidence Social Security will look at: your medical history and your work history.
First of all, to get disability, you need to file an application, preferably with a local Social Security office. The very best way to go about this is to ignore the SSA 1-800 number which often gives out wrong information and also stay away from the SSA online filing option. Instead, call your local Social Security office, tell them you wish to apply, and have them set up an appointment for a telephone application interview. From there, Social Security will do the rest.
If you get denied, you need to not give up, and not file a new claim. Many people mistakenly start a new application instead of appealing. But doing that gives up your appeal rights and the chance to be heard at a hearing where the approval chances may be higher. If you get denied, start the appeal process as quickly as you can.
Social Security Disability Work Incentives
Special rules make it possible for those receiving SSDI benefits to go back to work while continuing to be paid the monthly benefits. This is for those workers whose disability is not life threatening and have some capacity to work.
Three incentives are offered by SSDI for people attempting to go back to work: trial work period, extended period of eligibility, and expedited reinstatement.
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Benefits For Widows Or Widowers With Disabilities
If something happens to a worker, benefits may be payable to their widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse with a disability if the following conditions are met:
- The widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse is between ages 50 and 60.
- The widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse has a medical condition that meets our definition of disability for adults and the disability started before or within seven years of the worker’s death.
Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses cannot apply online for survivors benefits. If they want to apply for these benefits, they should contact Social Security immediately at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment
To speed up the application process, complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of your appointment.
We use the same definition of disability for widows and widowers as we do for workers.
Appealing Denied Social Security Disability Application
Its common for applicants to be denied. In fact, only about 1 in 3 applicants are initially approved for SSDI benefits. The two main reasons for denial are usually a lack of work credits, or that applicants do not meet the criteria for disability.
If you have been turned down, you do have the right to go through a Social Security Disability appeal process. Either you or your designated representative can file a Request for Reconsideration. Your initial appeal will then be turned over to Disability Determination Services, who will thoroughly review your file.
If you are denied again, you can proceed to the next level of appeal which is to appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge. An Administrative Law Judge will conduct a hearing in which all of your medical records and testimony will be heard before the judge renders a decision in the form of a written notice.
If you are still denied benefits, then you have a final appeal step you can take: filing a lawsuit in U.S. district court. You will need an attorney for this step if you havent already retained one. This can be an expensive and time consuming option, and as a result, less than 1% of disability claimants take their cases to this level.
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Common Mistakes Made When Applying For Ssdi
- Not seeing a doctor for your medical or emotional disability
- Not taking your medications as prescribed
- Applying for unemployment benefits while awaiting the outcome of your application
- Continuing to work after applying for SSDI or SSI
- Not acknowledging the mental effects of your disability or your mental disability itself when applying for SSDI
- Applying for the wrong benefits
- Listing incomplete job history
- Providing incomplete medical history and records
- Grammar, typos, incorrect coding or ID numbers
- Not checking your status after filing
- Not hiring a Social Security disability attorney or advocate
Information Needed To Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits
Processing claims for disability benefits can take anywhere from 3-5 months. Gathering required information prior to filing a claim may expedite the process. You will need the following information to apply online:
- Social Security number
- Basic spousal information
- Basic information for any children under the age of 18 or those who became disabled before the age of 22
- Military service, education or training
- If you are self-employed, business type and total net income
- If you are not self-employed, name of employer, start and end dates of employment, total earnings for the past two years
- Direct deposit information
- Medical information including conditions, doctors, hospitals, clinics at which youve received examinations, tests, treatments, etc.
- Names, dosages and information of all medications
- Employment history for the 15 years prior to becoming disabled
To apply over the phone or in person, you will need the majority of the above as well as:
- Medical records already in your possession
- Medical and Job Worksheet Adult, which can be found here.
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Some Publications That Will Give You More Information On Disability Benefits
The Disability Starter Kit will help you get ready for your disability interview or online application. Kits are available for adults and for children under age 18.
The starter kits provide information about the specific documents and the information that we will request from you.
The kits also provide general information about the disability programs and our decision-making process.
Here are some additional resources with information on disability benefits:
- Disability Evaluation Under Social Security – Medical criteria for evaluating Social Security disability claims
If You’re Not Sure Why You Received A Payment
If you receive a check or direct deposit payment from the Treasury Department and do not know what its for, contact the regional financial center that issued it. Only the agency that authorized the payment can explain why you received it.
If you received a check, look for the RFCs city and state at the top center. Then contact that RFC to find out which federal agency authorized the payment. It will be one of these:
If you received payment byelectronic funds transfer , or direct deposit, follow the directions under Find Information About a Payment.
Use the Treasury Check Verification System to verify that the check is legitimate and issued by the government.
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Disability Application Starter Kit
To assist you in creating your application, Social Security has developed a Disability Starter Kit that provides information about the documents and information that you will be requested to provide. Because an application can be complicated and lengthy, this is a good place to start and to keep you organized. The kit also explains how Social Securitys disability programs work and what decision-making processes are used to determine your eligibility.