Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be a lifeline when you are unable to work due to a disability. In fact, the Social Security Administration reports that in 2021, over 9 million people received disability payments.
Unfortunately, applying for SSDI can sometimes seem complex and overwhelming. Knowing what to expect when applying can help you navigate the process with greater confidence.
Determine your eligibility
Before starting the application, it is important to determine if you meet the SSA’s definition of disabled and if you have earned enough work credits. The SSA provides an online tool to help you verify your eligibility.
Gather necessary information
Collecting all the necessary information beforehand will make the application process smoother. You will need your Social Security number, birth or baptismal certificate, names and dosages of all medications you take, medical records, laboratory and test results, a summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did and your most recent W-2 form or federal tax return.
Fill out the application
You can apply for SSDI benefits online, by phone or in person at a local Social Security office. The application includes questions about your medical conditions, work history and basic personal information.
Complete the disability determination process
After you submit your application, the SSA sends it to your state’s Disability Determination Services office. A team composed of disability specialists and medical professionals will review your application. They might request additional medical records or ask you to undergo a medical examination or test.
Wait for a decision
After reviewing all the information, the team will make a decision about your disability claim. The SSA will send you a letter stating whether they have approved or denied your application. This process can take several months.
Appeal a denied claim
If your initial application gets denied, which is not uncommon, do not despair. You have the right to appeal the decision. The appeal process involves several stages, and you must request an appeal within 60 days of receiving the denial notice.
Taking the process one step at a time can make it more manageable and increase your chances of getting the financial support you need.