Q. Where do I file my claim for Social Security Disability benefits?
A. You can file a claim in person at your local Social Security office, or by calling toll-free at 1-800-772-1213, or on the Internet at www.ssa.gov. Once you have filed an application, the Social Security Administration will turn your claim over to your state’s “Division of Disability Determination Services” (DDS), which will consider and determine your claim.
Q. Are Social Security Disability benefits difficult to obtain?
A. Yes. The government has very strict guidelines on what it considers to be a “disability.” Your injuries and impairments must be very serious, and detailed medical records are needed to support your claim. Many people think that if they are knocked out of doing their old job, that they will automatically be considered disabled: This is NOT true. It’s a LOT tougher than that!
Q. What does the government require in order for me to be considered disabled?
A. You must have a physical or mental impairment that lasts at least 12 months (or is expected to last 12 months) and prevents you from doing any full-time work.
Q. How important are medical records in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits?
A. Medical records are extremely important in proving your disability. In fact, the foundation of a successful Social Security Disability claim is solid supporting medical evidence. The description you provide of your disabling illness or condition is important. But without supporting medical evidence from doctors, “your word” is not legally sufficient to prove you are disabled. You have to have medical records to support your claim. The government looks at it like this: If your condition is serious enough to keep you out of work, it is serious enough to seek medical treatment. And so if you have not gotten medical treatment for your injuries, you will not be awarded Social Security Disability. Your health and your future should be your top priority.
Q. Do I need to wait 12 months before filing a claim for Social Security Disability benefits?
A. No. Once you have determined that you may be unable to work for a period of 12 months or more (through consultation with your doctors), you should file for benefits immediately. You could risk losing benefits to which you are legally entitled by waiting longer than necessary to apply. If you are eligible to receive Disability Insurance Benefits, you can recover retroactive benefits (back-due benefits) only for the 12-month period prior to submitting your application for benefits. If you wait more than a year from the date you stop working to apply for benefits, you risk losing more benefits with each passing month!
Q. What are the deadlines for filing an appeal?
A. Typically, you must file the Request for Reconsideration within 60 days from the date of the letter from the government denying your claim.
Q. What happens if I don’t file an appeal on time?
A. You have to start your application process all over again. You may also permanently lose the right to much-needed back-due benefits.