FAQs about Applying for Disability Benefits

August 18,2016
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Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be confusing. You may have questions and don’t know where to find the answers. Our Westchester County Social Security attorneys can help you. Let us deal with the legal issues while you focus on your health.

We can answer your questions, including the following:

  • Who can apply for Social Security disability benefits?

Both adults and children can apply for disability benefits; however, the requirements are slightly different for each.

You may apply for adult disability benefits if you:

  • Are 18 years old or older;
  • Are not currently receiving Social Security disability benefits;
  • Are unable to work due to a medical condition or combination of conditions that is expected to last at least one year or result in death; and
  • Have not been denied disability benefits within the last 60 days. If your application has been recently denied, you may be able to file an appeal.

You may apply for child disability benefits if you:

  • Are under 18 years old or a student under age 22;
  • Are not married or a head of household;
  • Have a medical condition that results in marked and severe functional limitations and is expected to last at least one year or result in death; and
  • Have not been denied disability benefits within the last 60 days. If your application has been recently denied, you may be able to file an appeal.
  • How do I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

You may apply for Social Security disability benefits in a variety of ways, including:

  • Online at the Social Security Administration (SSA) website here.
  • In person at your local Social Security office.
  • Via phone by calling 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call 1-800-325-0778.
  • Through Westchester County Social Security attorneys like us.

The application process can be extremely complicated and may require a significant amount of information. For the best possible outcome, contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer to help you apply for benefits.

  • What information do I need to apply for disability benefits?

Prior to beginning an application for Social Security disability benefits, you should gather all of the information you need to provide the SSA. You will need the following:

  • Your date and place of birth
  • Your Social Security number
  • The name, Social Security number, and date of birth, dates and places of marriage and divorce, and date of death of your current and former spouse(s).
  • Names and date of birth of your minor children
  • Your bank’s routing and bank account numbers
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of all doctors and medical providers
  • Detailed information about your medical condition(s)
  • Names and dosages of medications
  • Names and dates of medical tests you’ve completed
  • Income information for this year and last year
  • The name and addresses of your current and former employer(s)
  • Beginning and ending dates of S. military service
  • A list of jobs you’ve held for the past 15 years and descriptions of each
  • Information about worker’s compensation or any other disability benefits you’ve received
  • What documents do I need to complete to apply for disability benefits?

You will have to provide documentation of all the information you provide to the SSA. Some documents you may need include:

  • Birth certificate or other proof of birth
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
  • S. military discharge papers
  • W-2 form(s) or IRS tax returns
  • Medical evidence already in your possession
  • Disability benefit award letters, pay stubs, settlement agreements, and other proof of income

Although you may submit copies of most of these forms, you must provide original identification documents. If you do not have original documents or other information necessary, do not delay in applying for benefits. The SSA will help you obtain any information that they need.

  • When should I apply for disability benefits?

You should apply for benefits when you become totally disabled by a condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Disability, according to the SSA, does not mean you cannot work at all. It simply means that you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity and cannot earn an income of at least a certain amount, which varies each year.

Do not delay in applying for Social Security benefits. Although you may be able to obtain back pay from your date of onset of disability with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you cannot with Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Thus, the sooner you apply, the quicker you will be able to start receiving benefits.

  • How long will I have to wait for a decision on my application?

The process of applying for and eventually being approved for disability benefits can be long and daunting. You can improve your chances of being approved sooner by submitting all of the necessary information to the SSA in a timely manner, continuously seeking medical treatment, and obtaining the help of a Westchester County Social Security attorney. However, despite your best efforts, it can take years to finally be approved for disability benefits.

There are five decision levels through which your application may go if it is not approved. Your application may be considered for a length of time at each level.

  • Initial Determination – It can take between 60 and 90 days to get a decision on your initial disability application.
  • Reconsideration – If your application is initially denied, you may request reconsideration within 60 days. It can take up to 60 days to receive a decision on your reconsideration.
  • Administrative Hearing – If your application is denied at reconsideration, you may appeal to an administrative law judge (ALJ) for an administrative hearing within 60 days. Your claim will be set for a hearing and you will receive a decision between 45 and 90 days after the hearing.
  • Appeals Council Review – If you do not agree with the decision of the ALJ, you may appeal to a council within 60 days. If the council agrees to review your claim, it can take up to 120 days or longer to receive a decision.
  • Federal Court Review – If the appeals council refuses your appeal or issues an unfavorable decision, you have 60 days to file a civil action in U.S. District Court. It can take a year or more to go through the federal court review process.

Although you may have to wait more than a year for a decision on your Social Security disability application, you have a better chance of approval if you continue to appeal.

If you need help with a Social Security disability claim in Westchester County or anywhere in the New York metropolitan area, call the Hermann Law Group at 914-286-3030.