How To Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits In United States

Given the fact that two out of three persons who apply for Social Security Disability Benefits in United States are denied the claim initially, the stringent eligibility conditions for disability benefits seem to be assessed very strictly. Hence, it makes a lot of sense to first ensure your eligibility. Here is a brief introduction that may help in doing just that, and may even help you in preparing an application that will smoothly sail through, within the mi
How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits in United States
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Social Security Disability Benefits are available only on fulfilling the prescribed eligibility criteria. Given the cumbersome and time consuming process of application, it makes sense to first ensure your eligibility before you rush in to applying for the disability benefits. It is also preferable to have some broad overview of the whole scheme.

Social Security Disability Benefits

These consist of two major benefits - the SOCIAL SECURITY DISABLITY INSURANCE or SSDI, and SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME or SSI. Forming the Social Security cover in case of disability, they are provided selectively depending upon the fulfilment of eligibility criteria of disability prescribed by the

Social Security Administration. SSDI is a payroll funded insurance scheme administered by the Social Security Administration as per the mandate provided to it by the US Government. The aim of the program is to provide income during the period of disability that prevents the person from working, and guarantees an income for those who are unable to work again.

Eligibility for Disability Benefits

The SSA has formed certain criteria for granting the disability benefits to those suffering from disability. These include the presence of a medical condition that prevents the person from being 'gainfully employed'; a recognized medical condition  lasting or expected to last beyond 12 months; age less than the age of retirement and the affected person must have worked for at least 5 out of the last 10 years. This is worked out by a complex formula.

In the year 2017, if someone earned $ 1300, it would be equivalent to having earned a 'quarter'. A person can earn a maximum of four such quarters every year. To be eligible, one is required to have earned at least 20 quarters during the last ten years. A person meeting these criteria is considered CURRENTLY INSURED. In addition, the person must also be FULLY INSURED. For being fully insured, either one should have total of 40 quarters. Otherwise, that person must have 6 credits plus one additional credit for each of the year over and above twenty one.

Once you are sure that you are eligible as per these criteria, you can start the process of applying for these benefits.

Stages of Application for Disability Benefits

The application procedure and the acceptance of the claim are one of the most cumbersome procedures in the scheme of social security benefits in the United States. Over two third of the applications are denied the claim, and often result in subsequent appeals for review, making the process even longer. As a result the following stages of application are identified.

i.    Original Claim
ii.   Request forRreconsideration
iii.  Request for Hearing
iv.   Federal Appeal

Original Claim

This is the stage of making the application. It need to be done very carefully, to avoid the application being denied on grounds of incomplete information. The following documents need to be filed along with the application for the disability claim.

1.  Application for Disability Insurance Benefits Form (SSA Form 5328)

This form seeks information related to your identity and past history. It includes question on your social security number, prior military service, employment history, pensions, taxable earnings, marriage history, dependent children, and several other topics.

2.  Adult Disability Report (SSA Form 3368)

This form seeks to compile information on your disabilities. It seeks information pertaining to your health status and medical history. It  contains questions on issues like your height, weight, Medicaid, when and why you stopped working, employment history, Address and telephone numbers of Doctors, Hospitals, Employers, prescription

drugs that you take, where and when certain medical tests took place, and educational history.

3. Medical Release Form (SSA Form 827)

This form allows the Social Security Administration to request your medical records from all of your Doctors and hospitals. It is very important and must be included in your application. You are usually required to fill out four or five of these forms, depending on how many doctors you have seen.

4.  Appointment of Representation Form (SSA Form 1696)

It is required by the Social Security Administration to be submitted with your application when you wish to have a legal representative represent you in your claim. By filling it you entitle your attorney to act on your behalf and also to obtain information about you from the Social Security Administration. In that case, your attorney will receive all correspondence from SSA about your claim.

Following Up in Case Of Denial – The Next Three Stages

Since a substantially large number of applications get denied, one must be prepared for subsequent steps from the very beginning.

Request for Reconsideration’ can be made to the SSA if your application is denied. For that you need to ensure that such a request is filed within 60 days from the date of denial of your original claim. The following documents will required to be submitted for this purpose.

1. Request For Reconsideration Form (SSA Form 561) providing basic information regarding your contact details, reasons for reconsideration request, and whether you have filed the claim in prescribed time.

2. Reconsideration Disability Report (SSA Form 3441) updates your medical information and includes the current status of your disability and vocation.

3.  Medical Release Form (SSA Form 827) allows the Social Security Administration to request your medical records from all of your doctors and it allows them to update the ones that they already have.

4.  Appointment of Representation Form (SSA Form 1696)

Subsequent Action

You can further avail the option of having your case heard by an Administrative Law Judge hear your case, by opting for request for hearing. In such cases, you will need to apply for such hearing within 60 days. You should be prepared to have a lawyer to represent you case before the judge.

In case your request is denied by the administrative judge, you can opt for civil action in a US District court within 60 days

Post Script

The process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits is cumbersome and involves filling of many documents. All the information therein must be filled properly and accurately to make sure that your application is not summarily rejected on account of a minor lapse.

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