Social Security disability benefits are available to qualifying individuals who “are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a physical or mental impairment, or a combination of impairments, that is expected to result in death or that has lasted or is expected to last for more than 12 months.” In order for you to find out whether or not you meet the above definition of disability and are entitled to receive benefits, you will need to fill out and submit an application.
Apply in Person, by Mail, or Over the Phone
You can apply for social security disability benefits in person, by mail, over the telephone, or on the internet. The telephone numbers and the addresses of local social security administration field offices are available in the telephone directory or on the social security administration’s official web site, https://www.ssa.gov . Regardless of which of the available application methods you choose, the process will start with an application form that will need to be filled out as completely and accurately as possible.
An in person interview can take place at a local social security field office. You will need to call ahead and arrange an appointment to meet with an agent who will assist you with the application process. The application asks for your personal information such as name, address, marital status and social security number. Be prepared to provide names and addresses of your doctors, and dates of treatment. You will need an original copy of your birth certificate and other paperwork. When you call for your appointment, you should ask the representative what additional documents you need to have with you.
A telephone interview will require that you be able to provide the same information that is needed for the in person meeting. The representative who talks to you on the phone will fill out the form as you answer the questions and will tell you what paperwork you will need to provide in order to complete the application. You may mail the paperwork or drop it off at the local social security field office.
If you apply by mail, or over the internet, you will have time to gather the requested information as you go through the application. The online application may be paused to allow time for you to locate answers to the questions. Just as with the in person or the telephone interviews, any additional paperwork requested by the SSA may be mailed or dropped off at the local field office.
Advice for Answering Tricky Questions on the Application Form
Most of the questions on the application form ask that you provide information that is important and easily obtainable. However, there are some questions that require more serious consideration before providing an answer. For instance, question number 10 on the basic application form asks you to provide “the date that you became unable to work because of your illness, injuries, or conditions.” The correct answer may or may not be the last day that you worked. If your condition is the result of an accident or a work injury, then the onset date may be the date that the injury or event occurred. If your condition is one that got worse over time and you became less and less able to do the tasks necessary for your job, the onset date may be sometime before your last day of employment. The date determined to be the date of the onset of the condition will affect the amount of your retroactive benefits. An incorrect decision on the date of onset can cost you many months of benefits.
Your response to question 24 will also have a serious impact on the success of your application. This item asks you to list “the illnesses, injuries, or conditions that limit your ability to work” and to provide a brief description. The information that you provide here is critical to an accurate and full evaluation of your ability to earn a living. You need to include a complete list all physical and mental conditions that affect your ability to perform the tasks needed to do your job. Keep in mind that your disability may be the result of a combination of physical and or mental conditions.
A description of your condition should include more than the medical name. For example, an answer that lists your condition as Crohn’s disease does not fully describe your situation. You will need to be specific as to what this disease has done to you and how this disease limits your ability to work. If Crohn’s disease causes constant abdominal pain or diarrhea and you are spending most of your day in the bathroom, include that information in your description. If you have had multiple surgeries to remove portions of your perforated colon, describe the effect of these surgeries on both your physical and mental abilities. Tell them why you can’t work! Your “brief description” is your opportunity to provide a first impression of how serious your condition really is. Don’t exaggerate but be thorough and list all of your conditions. If you need more room than what is provided on the form, include more information in the remarks section found on page 5 of the paper form.
Should You Get a Lawyer?
Do you need an attorney to begin the application process? The quick answer to that question is no. The application process is designed to make it possible for you to undertake the process on your own. Representatives of the social security administration will attempt to answer your questions and help you fill out the forms, but the truth is– they are not your representatives. An attorney experienced in handling social security disability claims will understand the importance of your answers to the questions on the application form. Having an attorney at the first stage of the process will increase your chances of success and may shorten your application process by many months.
How to Apply for Social Security Disability in NY?
You may decide that the best answer to that question is to start with a call to the Hermann Law Group to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney who is experienced at handling Social Security disability claims. There is no charge for your initial consultation and you will not be obligated to have the attorney represent you. You really do not need to face this very important challenge on your own. Call us at 877-773-3030.