APPLYING ONLINE FOR U.S. DISABILITY
Applying online for disability benefits offers several advantages:
- You can start your disability claim immediately - no need to wait for an appointment
- You can apply from the convenience of your own home or on any computer
- You can avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money
Follow these 4 easy steps to apply online:
- Review the Adult Disability Checklist for details about what
you will need before starting the online process.
- Fill out the online Disability Benefit Application
to provide the Social Security Administration with information regarding eligibility for
- Fill out the online Adult Disability Report to provide
the Social Security Administration with medical and work history.
- Fill out, sign and mail or take the Authorization to Disclose Information to the
Social Security Administration Get Adobe Reader to your local Social Security Office.
Apply For Disability Benefits
Check Application Status
Appeal Recent Medical Decision on Claim
APPLYING FOR U.S. DISABILITY IN PERSON
The first step, once you decide you are going to apply for Social Security Disability, is
to obtain and review the Adult Disability Starter Kit. The kit contains a:
- The factsheet includes the definition of disability and
answers questions about applying for disability benefits.
- This is a checklist of information and documents to have
ready for your disability interview or when you complete the online Disability Report.
- The worksheet can help you prepare for your disability
interview or complete the Adult Disability Report on the Internet. It lists information
that Social Security will ask you and provides space to write down this information.
An interesting fact - studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 3-in-10 chance of
becoming disabled before reaching retirement age.
Step #1: Be Diagnosed by a Specialist
A huge number of claims for Social Security Insurance Disability (SSD) are denied, and
because fibromyalgia (FM) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME/) are not well understood,
your case may be especially difficult to prove.
You may be eligible for benefits if you have an adequate work history, can not work for an
extended period of time and have an illness or injury that is unlikely to improve within
the next six months. If you haven't worked long enough to be eligible, you may still
qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
If you are eligible for SSD, the steps ahead will help you avoid common pitfalls and
strengthen your case.
First, you should have your diagnosis either made or confirmed by a Rheumatologist or
Orthopedist. This is because the diagnoses have so often been made incorrectly that case
examiners give more credence to those made by specialists than those that come from an
Internist, general practitioner or mental-health professional. It also will strengthen
your claim if you have another, better-understood condition such as rheumatoid arthritis
or degenerative disc disease along with FM or CFS/ME.
Step #2: Get Your Medical Records
You'll need to get a copy of your medical records, as well as multiple other records, to
submit your claim anyway, but it's a good idea to get them as soon as you start
considering a claim. More than one person has been surprised to find that their records do
not actually say they have FM or CFS/ME. If that's the case, you'll need to speak to your
doctor and have the diagnosis added to your records.
Step #3: Submit Your Application
You have several options for filing your application. It can be done online, by calling
1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or by visiting your local Social Security Office.
Be certain you have all forms completed and have included all necessary records or your
claim will be delayed.
Step #4: Denied? Don't Give Up!
If your claim is denied, you have the right to file a Request for Reconsideration. That
will lead to a complete review of your case by someone who was not involved in the
original decision. You also can submit new evidence at this time.
Step #5: Still Denied? Request a Hearing
If your claim is still denied after reconsideration, you can ask for a hearing, which will
be heard by an administrative law judge. This is the point at which you may want to get an
attorney who specializes in disability claims. You and your attorney can then plead your
case in person and the judge can call witnesses. You'll also be able to look at your file
and present new evidence. To find an attorney who specializes in disability claims
Important: You could have to wait several months or even a couple of years until
your hearing, depending on where you live.
Tip #6: You Can Still Appeal
If you're not successful after the hearing, you can ask for review by Social Security's
Appeals Council. The council can either refuse or grant your request.
Step #7: Last-Ditch Effort
If it refuses your request or finds against your claim, you can file a lawsuit in federal
district court. This is your final chance to prove your claim, unless you want to start
the entire process over again.