How To File For Social Security Disability
Social Security disability benefits are available through the Social Security Administration when a physical or mental condition causes you to be unable to work. You must meet specific guidelines as far as the nature of your disability and have worked long enough at a job or through self-employment that was subject to payment of Social Security taxes.
The process to file for SSD can be challenging due to the complexity of the rules and regulations you must follow to qualify for benefits. Almost 65% of applications for SSD benefits are denied. Working with an SSD lawyer to file your application avoids delays and claim denials caused by failing to carefully follow guidelines and provide the medical evidence to support your claim for benefits.
How to file for SSD
Completing and filing an application online is the easiest and most convenient way to file for SSD. Filing online avoids the need to schedule an appointment to file over the phone or in-person at a local Social Security office.
You can, however, avoid the hassles associated with trying to read and understand the rules and regulations that apply to Social Security Disability by using an SSD attorney to file the claim on your behalf. Some of the information your attorney will need should be gathered in advance and include the following:
- Names and addresses of all employers for whom you have ever worked.
- Detailed information about self-employment income you earned, including dates and type of business in which you engaged.
- Names of all medications you currently take.
- Names and contact information for all physicians and other health care providers who provided treatment for the medical condition or conditions causing you to be disabled and unable to work.
Providing this information will allow your SSD lawyer to include it as part of the submission of your initial claim and may expedite its processing by Social Security.
Satisfying the work test when filing for SSD
You must be “insured” to qualify for SSD benefits. This means you must have worked and earned income from an employer or through self-employment that was subject to payment of Social Security payroll taxes. As a general rule, you must have earned an income from employment or self-employment recently enough and for a long enough duration to satisfy the work test used by Social Security.
A simple way suggested by Social Security to determine whether your work history is long enough to qualify for SSD is to subtract the year you reached 22 years of age from the year of the onset of your disability. The result is the number of quarters you need to qualify.
For example, a person born in 1991 would have been 22 years old in 2013. If that person becomes disabled in 2021, they need eight quarters of earnings to qualify (2021-2013=8).
Duration is only one part of the work test used by Social Security. The other part requires that at least some of the work must be completed within a certain period close to when you became disabled.
You must be disabled to qualify for SSD
According to the definition used by Social Security to evaluate physical and mental impairments to determine whether or not you are disabled and qualified to receive SSD benefits, the impairment or combination of impairments must have lasted or be expected to last for at least one year or be expected to cause death.
A five-step process used to evaluate your medical condition includes the following:
- It must prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity, such as sitting, standing, lifting, and remembering. If it does not, then you do not qualify. If it does, then the evaluation proceeds to the next step.
- It must be severe and expected to last for at least 12 months or cause death to occur or you will not qualify. If it meets this standard, the evaluation continues.
- It must be among the list of impairments compiled by Social Security or medically equivalent to a listed impairment. If it is, then you qualify for benefits. If it does not meet this standard, the evaluation continues.
- It must prevent you from engaging in the work you did before becoming disabled. If it does, the evaluation process continues to the next and final step.
- It must prevent you from doing any other type of work based on your age, education, skills, and work experience. You will not qualify for benefits if you can do other types of work.
It is essential that your application for SSD be supported by medical records showing a course of evaluation and treatment by health care professionals, including diagnostic testing results.
An SSD attorney can help
Whether you are filing an initial application for benefits or received a denial notice in response to an application you already filed, an SSD lawyer can help. We know the laws and regulations governing SSD and can ensure that your application complies with them to avoid delays and enhance the chance of success. We also review denial notices and develop an effective strategy to appeal the decision to get you the financial assistance you deserve.