When you become injured or ill, leaving you unable to work, Social Security Disability benefits can provide you with the necessary income to stay financially stable and take care of your family.
However, you may have many questions about the application process, including when to apply, what information you need to provide and how long you must wait before you receive benefits.
When and how to apply
You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you can after you develop a disability. You must meet the definition of disabled under the law to qualify for benefits, but once you do, applying as soon as possible can help you receive your benefits faster.
There are a couple ways you can apply for your benefits. You can apply online, call and file your claim over the phone or set up an appointment to apply in person at your local Social Security office.
Start gathering this information
In addition to filling out your application for benefits, you will need to provide various information and documents. Information you should have ready before you apply includes your:
- Date and place of birth
- Social Security Number
- Work history
Your work history should include a summary of places you have worked and the type of work you did.
Additionally, be prepared to provide detailed information about your medical history. This includes the names and contact information of your doctors and any hospitals or clinics that you received treatment at, as well as the dates of your prior visits. You should have a list of all medications you take and the dosages.
Documents you will need
The Social Security Administration will also need your medical records. They will usually need records from any doctors, hospitals, clinics, caseworkers or therapists that you have seen and records of any lab work or test results. Finally, you will need to submit your most recent W-2 form or a your most recently filed tax return if you are self-employed.
There are forms you will need to complete aside from your disability application. These can include forms that ask you to describe your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work.
There are also typically other miscellaneous forms such as forms allowing your doctors or other individuals to send information to the Social Security Administration which can help when determining your eligibility for benefits.
How long the process takes
The reason it is important to apply for benefits as soon as you are classified as disabled is because it can take between three to six months to process an application. While there is no guarantee as to how long it will take, your application generally gets processed faster if you promptly submit all required documents.
You may feel overwhelmed at the idea of having to gather and submit all this information and documentation. This is understandable because applying for benefits can be a complex process. But you should still start your application for benefits as soon as you can.
You do not need to have all this information ready to go before you apply. You can provide or submit it while your application is in progress, but waiting to start your initial application will only increase the overall wait time before you start receiving the benefits you need.