If you want to learn more about filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits I should suggest you just order our book, 9 Fatal Mistakes Social Security Disability Claimants Make. But if you just want some quick tips, columnist Tom Margenau addressed this in a recent column. I recommend you read the entire article, but here are his six tips:
Tip 1 — You can begin the filing process online at the Social Security Administration website: www.socialsecurity.gov. Just click on “apply online for disability benefits” right on the home page. Or you could call them at 800-772-1213 FREE and make an appointment to file in person at a Social Security office. You also have the option of filing your claim over the phone.
Tip 2 — One of the first questions on the disability application form essentially asks this: “What is wrong with you and how does this impairment prevent you from working?” Answer this question as thoroughly as possible. The inability to work (not just the impairment itself) is the key to qualifying for benefits. You should describe in as much detail as possible how your impairment (or impairments — see Tip 3) impact your ability to do your job.
Tip 3 — List all the physical and mental problems you have, no matter how insignificant they seem. Don’t simply write down the condition that you consider your primary disability. It is frequently a combination of disabilities that qualifies someone for benefits.
Tip 4 — There is a big section of the disability questionnaire that seeks information about your medical sources. Thoroughly list the names, addresses, phone numbers, websites, etc. for all the doctors, hospitals, clinics and other professionals who have treated you. The government needs medical records to help them decide if your condition is severe enough to qualify for benefits. And, of course, they get those records from the people you list on the application form. I can tell you from experience that nothing slows up a disability claim more than the inability to get records from medical sources.
Tip 5 — Frequently, Social Security needs more information than they can glean from your medical records to help decide if you are disabled. If they set you up for a medical examination with a Social Security doctor, don’t miss that appointment.
Tip 6 — The Social Security Administration actually contracts with a state agency (it is called the Disability Determination Service in most states) to make disability decisions. Shortly after you file, your claim will be sent to your state DDS. Call SSA and get the DDS phone number and then call them to find out the name of the analyst who has been assigned to your case. Make that person your new best friend! This is the person who is going to decide if you are disabled or not.