How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

How to apply for Social Security Disability

There are two ways to file a disability claim with the Social Security Administration. One way is to apply for Social Security disability with an experienced lawyer or advocate’s help. The second is to file your claim on your own.

1. Get A Professional to Help You Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits

Many people have better luck when they apply for Social Security disability with professional help from a Social Security attorney or advocate. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer will be by your side throughout the entire process. Using this method to apply for Social Security disability increases your chances for winning the most benefits you’re rightfully owed. A Social Security disability advocate or lawyer will file all claim paperwork for you, which eliminates the possibility for application errors. This is crucial, since 2 in every 5 applicants gets turned down for benefits due to basic paperwork mistakes. Having a lawyer help you apply for Social Security disability makes the process less confusing, since you can get all your questions answered first.

Having a professional Social Security disability advocate on your side is the best way to win an appealed case, too. If you already did apply for Social Security disability and got denied, a lawyer can file your appeal immediately. This is something you cannot get if you apply for Social Security disability on your own. All Social Security lawyers and advocates work on contingency, so you pay nothing unless you win benefits! A lawyer can pay for your medical records and court filing fees for you, which saves you money up front. If your appeal gets denied, your lawyer gets paid nothing… ever.

2. Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits On Your Own

The second method is to apply for Social Security disability benefits directly on your own. If this is how you choose to apply for Social Security disability, you’ll need to:

  1. Gather convincing medical evidence needed to support your disability claim. This means paying for copies of your complete medical records from every healthcare provider treating you over the last 2-3 years. The free records, receipts and lab test results you get in the mail aren’t enough to prove your claim.
  2. Fill out every claim form completely and honestly before submitting it to the SSA. Don’t leave anything blank that says it’s required, or the SSA can reject your claim for a “technical error.” Make sure your handwriting is neat and legible, too!
  3. Communicate with the SSA that you’re going to apply for Social Security disability, then follow up regularly to check your claim’s status. SSD claim reviews usually take 3-5 months to complete, on average. It’s important to check your claim’s status often to ensure the SSA has everything they need and no paperwork got lost during the process. If anything is missing in your application, you must provide more documents in a timely manner. Otherwise, you may have to start the application process over again from scratch.
  4. Attend all consultative exams, court hearings and SSA office appointments as requested. The SSA prefers to communicate via U.S. mail, and may schedule doctor’s exams and court hearings months in advance. You must attend all appointments yourself, since you don’t have a legal representative to do it for you. Missing a single appointment may result in your disability claim’s denial.

You May Qualify for Legal Assistance

Regardless of how you choose to apply for Social Security disability, you must provide the same documentation. It also helps to be knowledgeable about the filing process in order to maximize your benefits. Most people find the SSD application process much easier with a lawyer helping them through it. Having a lawyer handle your claim costs you nothing unless you win benefits. If a lawyer does help you win, federal law says you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.

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