The Five Steps of Applying for Disability Benefits Through the SSA

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can seem daunting, especially if you have only recently become disabled. However, it is not nearly as difficult as it initially seems, and you do not need to go through the process alone. Here are the five basic steps you need to take if you want to apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA):

  1. Requesting an interview
    • When you contact the SSA initially to apply for benefits, whether online or over the phone, you will be asked to make an appointment for an interview. This interview will be conducted either over the phone or at a local SSA office. You can also complete a substantial portion of the interview beforehand if you apply online, which will save time and ease the process. Whatever way you choose to apply, you must keep your appointment with the SSA if you want to obtain your benefits.
  2. Getting your documentation
    • Once you have your interview set up, you will need to obtain certain documents for the interview. This includes any medical documentation you have on hand (you do not need to go to your doctors to obtain medical records from them), the names and birthdates of your spouse and minor children, the dates of any marriages or divorces, and the name, address, and phone number of someone they can contact if they want to reach you. They also will ask for any documentation on any worker’s compensation claims you may have made, and the checking account number and routing number if you want your benefit checks to be delivered by Direct Deposit. They may also ask you to sign Form SSA-827, “Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration,” which must be signed and returned, and if you cannot complete the process online, you will also need to bring this
  3. Going through the interview
    • Once you have all your documentation in order, you simply need to go through the interview as directed. In total, an interview with SSA usually takes about an hour, although it tends to go more quickly if you have already filled out certain information through the online application. Answer all questions you are asked truthfully and completely, and you should not have too many issues.
  4. Getting examined
    • After your interview with SSA, you will be asked to make an appointment with Disability Determination Services (DDS), a state-run agency that will evaluate your medical condition to determine if you qualify as being disabled. This process is intended to demonstrate that not only do you have a disability, but that it is severe enough that it will prevent you from working. This consists of something like a routine medical examination, although with some extra steps involved. At the end, they will decide about both the nature and severity of your disability.
  5. Waiting for a decision
    • The last, and possibly most infuriating part about applying for disability, is waiting for the SSA to decide about your case. Unfortunately, it can take months between when you apply for disability and when you hear back about whether you qualified, which is frustrating. However, if you did everything correctly and there were no issues, you should begin receiving disability benefits shortly after your application is finally approved.

If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.

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