Learn About Applying for Disability Insurance Benefits

Understand the Process of Getting Approved

Social Security Disability Claim Form filling and obtaining Concept

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If you have become disabled from work due to an illness or injury, there’s a good chance you are considering applying for disability insurance benefits. Depending on your circumstance, you could be eligible for thousands of dollars in income each month to cover your personal and health care expenses. In many cases, disability benefits can provide much needed cash for paying rent or mortgage payments, food and utilities, and ongoing care to make sure you get the highest quality of life possible.

How to Get Started Applying for Disability Benefits

The process of applying for disability benefits starts with the human resource department for your employer (or former employer). Consider how you became disabled if it occurred on the job, and if the injury or illness was directly work-related. If so, then you should have already been approved for workers’ compensation coverage and received some level of medical care and benefits for a short period of time.

If your employer offered it, and it was something you signed up for, you may also be eligible for short term disability and long term disability benefit payments, which can equal between 40 to 60 percent of your former weekly salary. Ask your HR representative about this, or talk directly with the disability plan provider to get more information about eligibility requirements as each plan may vary.

If you developed a health care concern while employed, but have later resigned because of this, you will want to talk with a qualified disability attorney who may be able to get you approved for work-related disability benefits. Repetitive injuries from work tasks, unreported accidents, and harmful work conditions can affect your well-being months after leaving a job.

If your condition has developed over a period of time through no fault of your employer, or you have been diagnosed with a life-long disability, your next course of action is to apply for permanent disability benefits. This is managed through your local Social Security office. The process is long and you should know that it can take up to two years to be approved for benefits, in some cases. You will need to rely on your personal savings and assets, as well as the support of friends and family during this transition.

The good news is once you have been approved for disability benefits, they are retroactive to the date you originally applied so you can expect a lump sum payment at first, followed by regular monthly payments thereafter.

You will want to submit your application for Social Security Disability Insurance as soon as possible, using an online form, or by visiting your local Social Security office. You can find a listing of office locations using your phone directory, or by calling 1-800-772-1213 toll free to make an appointment. You will need several pieces of information in order to fill out the application for benefits, including:

  • Medical records – at least know what you have been diagnosed with, date diagnosed, and your physician information
  • Workers’ compensation records – you can request this through your employer’s HR office
  • Names and birthdates of all your household members – to determine if you are eligible for additional benefits based on family size
  • Checking and savings account numbers – used to verify income eligibility for SSI benefits and direct deposits of benefits
  • Proof of US citizen status and address – your US-issued driver’s license and birth certificate should suffice
  • Listing of any prescription medication you take for your condition – you may be eligible for medical coverage under Medicare
  • Your detailed work history for the last 15 years – if you have worked, the Social Security will want to know about your jobs, tasks, and ability to work

Once you have applied, you will receive a notification and a time for a hearing. You will meet with a Social Security case manager who will review your documentation with you, ask you for additional items if needed, and schedule a follow-up visit if needed.

Now the waiting game happens. You should be notified in about 45 days of the status of your case. Don’t be shocked if your initial request is denied because 70 percent of cases are denied the first time. You can appeal this and you should retain a Social Security disability attorney to represent you in this hearing.