Experienced Social Security Disability Application Lawyers
It can be both time consuming and frustrating to apply for disability benefits. Even though you may desperately need the benefits, you are likely to find one stumbling block after another placed in front of you. Despite the fact that you find yourself disabled and unable to work, unable to pay even your normal monthly expenses, only about thirty percent of initial Social Security Disability applications are approved.
While this sounds like a fairly dismal statistic, do not let it deter you from seeking disability benefits. At Carmichael Law Group, we can assist you with your initial Social Security Disability application, as well as help you file appeals. Our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers will make sure there are no mistakes in your application that could delay the process.
You can either apply for your SSD benefits online, over the phone, or in person, at your local Social Security office. To ensure you get the benefits you need and deserve, you must have a disability, and that disability must impair your ability to perform the work you are qualified to do. To prove that you have a disability, it will be necessary to provide detailed, extensive information regarding your work and medical history. Work with an experienced disability attorney to ensure you properly meet all deadlines, and that your application is complete and correct.
The SSA will require that you state a cause for your disability application—this means you must comprehensively explain why you are not longer able to work, and how your medical condition currently limits the type of work you are able to perform. Because you will need many documents from your medical providers and past employers when you apply, it is good to have all the information gathered together before you begin your SSD application. You may find it difficult to get the documents you need; attorneys generally get faster responses to such requests than you might on your own.
In the initial stage of the Social Security Disability process, you will file your application and the SSA will review your initial claim. The Social Security office when then send your file to be reviewed for approval or denial, based on the information you have provided. You can file your application for SSD benefits online, over the phone, or at your local Social Security office—whichever you are more comfortable with. If you apply on the phone or at your local office, you will be asked questions and the application will be filled out on your behalf with your answers.
You will be required to answer questions regarding your work history and your disability and will likely be asked to fill out a detailed Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire. It is extremely important that you have all information necessary and be as prepared as possible. You could possibly be asked to undergo a consultative exam, and you will need to provide evidence that your disability can be expected to last twelve months or longer. Your disability should also meet Blue Book listings for your medical condition.
What Medical Information Will You Need to Apply for SSD Benefits?
You will need to have a comprehensive medical records history that fully supports your disability, and your inability to work. Unfortunately, many people have seen their doctor on many occasions for their disabling condition, but because they have never discussed how their condition affects their ability to work with their doctor, that fact is not in the medical records. Medical information you will be required to have to submit your initial SSD application includes:
- All contact information for each and every medical provider you have seen for your condition. This includes doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, psychiatrists, and counselors.
- Written statements from each medical provider that document the tasks you are unable to do, along with what you can do;
- A list of all the medications you are currently taking;
- A list of any medical tests your doctor has ordered and the results of those tests, and
- Information from any hospitalization related to your condition.
What Types of Personal Information Do You Need to Apply for SSD Benefits?
You will need the following information to apply for Social Security Disability benefits:
- Your date of birth and place of birth (your birth certificate or certified copy of your birth certificate should suffice);
- Proof of citizenship or lawful permanent resident status;
- Your Social Security number (Your SS card);
- Information regarding your current spouse and any former spouses;
- Your bank account information;
- Your tax information for the past year (W2s or 1099s), and
- If you have filed for workers’ compensation, you will need that claim information.
What Types of Work Information Do You Need for Your Initial SSD Application?
Finally, you will need information regarding your employment. This may be the most extensive level of information you will need to collect for your initial SSD application and includes:
- The total amount of income you have earned over the past two years;
- The names and contact information of your former employers;
- A Social Security Statement;
- Any information related to any military service;
- Details about the work you have done over the past fifteen years, and
- Any workers’ compensation or related benefits you have collected.
What Forms Will You Use for Your Initial SSD Application?
When you file for Social Security Disability benefits, you will be required to fill out a variety of different forms. If you file in person or over the phone, these forms will be filled out for you, based on your responses to the questions asked. The forms for SSD benefits include:
- SSA-16-BK—Application for Disability Insurance Benefits
- SSA-3368-BK—Adult Disability Report
- SSA-3369-BK—Work History Report
- SSA-827-BK—Authorization to Disclose Information to the SSA
If you are filling out the forms yourself, ensure you are using a current version of each form (there is a revision date in the bottom left-hand corner; if the revision date is not within the last year or two, or you are unsure whether you are using the latest form, make sure to contact your local SS office). If completing the forms in person, make sure your writing is legible, and use blue or black ink only. It is important to note that Form SSA-827 gives the SSA the right to retrieve all your medical and educational records that can support or deny the validity of your claim.
This is a blanket authorization that helps examiners evaluate whether you are able to perform tasks related to your job, given your disability. If you file online, you will fill out the Work History Report and the Adult Disability Report as a part of your application. It is very important that you fill out all details about prior job duties, including to what extent you were required to perform physical duties, such as walking, standing, sitting, lifting, etc.
How Many Times Can You Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Unfortunately, obtaining SSD benefits can be a lengthy, often trying process. There may be more than one application for benefits, plus the appeals process has four levels that can take a significant amount of time. While this can all seem very disheartening, when your physical or mental limitations prevent you from earning a living, it is important not to give up on the process. Once you are approved for SSD benefits, those benefits will be backdated to the time of your initial application, so you will have an initial lump sum, along with your monthly disability payments.
There is no limit on the number of times you can apply for Social Security Disability benefits, however, it is almost always a better idea to go through the appeal process rather than submitting a new application. Often, the submission of a new application can be a waste of your time and effort; consulting a disability attorney to help you with the appeal process can be another step. If you do decide to reapply after a denial of your initial SSD application, timing is everything. Disability examiners who review SSD applications are required to follow very strict guidelines, therefore, if nothing has changed regarding your claim since the last time you filed, your chances of receiving another denial are significant.
There is a situation where submitting a new application could be the right course of action. If you have new, significant medical evidence which supports your disability claim, or if your initial application was denied because important medical evidence was lacking, then re-applying could be the right thing to do. If you are uncertain whether re-applying for SSD benefits or beginning the appeals process is the right action for you, consulting an experienced SSD attorney from Carmichael Law Group can help you.
While an appeal can take months, or sometimes, even a year or longer, the odds of getting an approval at the ALJ appeal level are much better than being approved at the initial level—as many as 50 percent of ALJ appeals are approved for disability benefits, although this number varies somewhat by the state you live in.
Is There an Age Requirement for Applying for Disability Benefits?
If you have already reached full retirement age (66, currently), you cannot apply for Social Security Disability benefits, because you are able to collect Social Security retirement benefits. If, however, you are 65 and disabled, you should definitely go ahead and apply for SSD benefits. It can be much easier for those over the age of 65 to get disability benefits because there are special rules for the elderly.
The Social Security Administration is much less likely to deny your application because medical conditions are much less likely to resolve themselves after the age of 65. While the full retirement age is currently age 66, in 2027, it will increase to age 67. The amount you will receive for disability is likely higher than what you would receive for early retirement.
You will also avoid Social Security’s early retirement penalty by filing for SSD benefits—in other words, SSDI is like an early retirement program with no penalties involved. Since it can sometimes take years to be approved for SSD benefits, you might choose to apply for early retirement benefits and disability benefits at the same time, which is fine with the SSA, and allows you to collect retirement benefits while waiting for a decision on your disability application.
Later, if you receive approval for your disability benefits, you will begin receiving disability benefits rather than early retirement benefits. If the SSA determines you were disabled while you were collecting early retirement benefits, you will be paid the difference in benefit amounts for those months. On the flip side, if you are denied disability benefits, then your full retirement benefits will be permanently reduced because you chose to collect early retirement.
How Carmichael Law Group Can Help with Your Social Security Disability Application
The process of filling out paperwork for a disability application can be confusing and overwhelming. The Social Security Administration will require a significant amount of information from you to support your claim for disability, proving you qualify for benefits. An experienced disability attorney from Carmichael Law Group can help ensure your application is complete and accurate. Contact Carmichael Law Group today to learn more about how to apply for disability benefits.