Social Security Disability.
How can I tell if I am disabled enough to apply for social security
Security regulations make it easier to be found disabled as you get
older. It becomes easier for a few people at age 45 (those unable to
read English), for more people at age 50, for most people at age 55,
and even more people at age 60. If you’re over age 55 and you cannot do
any job you have done in the past 15 years, you should definitely
apply. If you’re over age 50 and have a severe impairment that keeps
you from doing all but the easiest jobs, you ought to apply.
even if you’re a younger person, you don’t have to be bedridden in
order to be found disabled. If you’re under age 45 or 50, you cannot do
your past jobs and you cannot work full time at any regular job, that
ought to be enough.
Nevertheless, being unable to work and being
found “disabled” by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are two
different things. It is often difficult to convince SSA that someone is
“disabled” even when he or she genuinely cannot work. But it is not
If you really cannot work, apply for disability
benefits from SSA, and keep appealing denials at least through the
hearing before an administrative law judge. If you lose at a hearing,
sometimes a lawyer with experience handling disability cases can figure
out a way to win your case by pursuing the next appeal – to the Appeals
How do I
apply for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
Social Security Administration (SSA) offers three ways for you to apply
for Social Security disability benefits: by telephone, in person at a
local Social Security office, or via the Internet. If you want to use
the Internet to apply, go to
www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/adult.htm. If you want to
apply for SSA’s other disability program — Supplemental Security Income
(SSI) — you cannot complete an SSI application online, but you can
complete one of the necessary supporting documents, the Adult
Disability and Work History Report, on the Internet.
If you want
to complete an application for SSI or Social Security disability by
telephone or in person, you must first telephone SSA at 1-800-772-1213.
If you choose to go to a Social Security office to complete the
application, the person at the 800 number above will schedule an
appointment for you, give you directions to the Social Security office,
and tell you what papers you need to bring with you. If you want to
apply by phone, you will be given a date and an approximate time to
expect a phone call from someone at the Social Security office they
will take your application over the phone. The application will then be
mailed to you for your signature.
Do you have
any advice about applying for disability benefits?
Give SSA all the information it asks for in a straightforward way. Be
truthful. Do not exaggerate or minimize your disability.
contact a lawyer to help me apply for Social Security Disability or SSI
it is best to have a lawyer help you with the application. That way
everything is done correctly from the beginning and you have a
knowledgeable person helping you gather the evidence you need to prove
if I am denied benefits and I do not appeal within 60 days?
have to start over with a new application — and it may mean that you’ll
lose some the backpay benefits that you may have been awarded. So it is
important to appeal all denials within 60 days. It’s better if you
appeal right away so that you get through the bureaucratic denial
system faster and the quicker you can get to the hearing stage.
How do I
denial letter will tell you about appealing. The first appeal is called
a “reconsideration.” You must request reconsideration and then, after
the reconsideration is denied, you must request a hearing within the
60-day time limit.
You can appeal in one of three ways. (1)
Telephone the Social Security Administration and make arrangements for
your appeal to be handled by phone and mail. (2) Go to the Social
Security office to submit your appeal. If you go to the Social Security
office, be sure to take along a copy of your denial letter. Make sure
that the Social Security representative gives you a signed copy of your
appeal paper showing that you filed the Appeal on time. Or (3) appeal
online at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/iAppeals/ap001.jsp. Make sure
to print and retain the receipt for your appeal so that you can prove
you made your appeal on time.
What are the
biggest mistakes people make when trying to get disability benefits?
to appeal. More than half of the people whose applications are denied
fail to appeal. Many people who are denied on reconsideration fail to
request a hearing.
Another mistake, although much less common,
is made by people who fail to obtain appropriate medical care. Some
people with long-term chronic medical problems feel that they have not
been helped much by doctors. Thus, for the most part, they stop going
for treatment. This is a mistake for both medical and legal reasons.
First, no one needs good medical care more than those with chronic
medical problems. Second, medical treatment records provide the most
important evidence of disability in a Social Security case.
medical evidence is so important, should I have my doctor write a
letter to the Social Security Administration and should I gather
medical records and send them to SSA?
SSA will gather the
medical records, so you don’t have to do that. Whether you should ask
your doctor to write a letter is a hard question. A few people win
their cases by having their doctors write letters. You can try this if
you want to. The problem is that the medical-legal issues are so
complicated in most disability cases that a doctor may inadvertently
give the wrong impression. Thus, obtaining medical reports may be
something best left for a lawyer to do.
When is the
best time for a lawyer to get involved in my case?
people wait until it is time to request a hearing before contacting us
to represent them. Although everyone agrees that a lawyer’s help is
essential at the hearing and the great majority of people who have
lawyers win their cases at a hearing, how necessary it is to have the
help of a lawyer at the early stages is a subject with arguments on
If this doesn’t answer your questions, please telephone us at (407)
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