People who wish to apply for Social Security disability benefits can do so online, or they can contact their local Social Security office to make an appointment to apply for benefits in person. Another option is to book an appointment to provide the information required to apply for benefits over the phone.
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The Social Security web site provides step-by-step instructions to assist with filling out forms. Applicants who wish to find out the status of their application can check this information online as well.
Social Security Disability Benefits
Social Security disability benefits may be paid to a person who is unable to work for medical reasons. The individual must have paid Social Security taxes in order to qualify for benefits, and the medical concern must be expected to either last 12 months or more or result in the applicant’s death. This program does not pay benefits to people who are only partially disabled or who need assistance due to a short-term medical concern.
In some cases, family members of a disabled person may qualify for benefits. This is true in a situation where
- The spouse is 62 years of age or older
- A person is caring for a child under the age of 16
- A person is caring for a disabled child of any age
Unmarried children under the age of 18 may also qualify for benefits. Unmarried children over the age of 18 who are disabled may also qualify, so long as the child’s disability started before he or she reached the age of 22.
Social Security disability benefits are not payable if there is a warrant out for the recipient’s arrest on a felony charge for flight to escape from custody, flight-escape or flight to avoid prosecution. A person who has been convicted of a crime and is incarcerated cannot receive benefits for the months he or she spends behind bars. Family members who are entitled to financial support may continue to receive benefits.
When to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
A person should apply for benefits as soon as he or she becomes disabled. It can take a few months before the application will be processed. An application for Social Security benefits and a Disability Report must be completed. The Disability Report is available online, and it can be printed off and returned to the applicant’s local Social Security office as well.
To process a claim for Social Security benefits, the applicant will need to provide:
- Names and contact information for all medical practitioners, clinics and hospitals who provided treatment
- Names and dosage levels of all medications the applicant is taking
- Information about the kind of work the applicant performed
- Information on earnings
Doctors who have treated the applicant will be asked to provide information about the medical condition responsible for the disability and how it affects the person’s ability to work.
How the Claim is Processed
When an application for Social Security disability benefits has been received, it is reviewed very carefully. If the applicant is currently working and earning more than a set amount every month, he or she may not be considered disabled.
The medical condition in question must be severe enough to limit the applicant’s ability to perform job duties such as sitting, walking or remembering and must be expected to last for at least 12 months. A List of Impairments that automatically qualify a person for disability benefits is checked. If the medical condition is not on the list, then the Social Security benefits office considers whether it is as severe as the ones included on the List of Impairments.
The next factor considered for Social Security disability benefits is whether the person can perform his or her last job. If they can, they are not considered disabled. If the applicant is unable to work at his or her last job, the question of whether they can do any job is considered. If the answer to that question is, “No,” then the applicant qualifies for disability benefits.
Whether a person applies for Social Security disability benefits online, in person or over the phone, he or she should take this step early on. The process of determining eligibility for benefits can take some time, and the wait may be up to five months before a decision is made. Filling out the application forms properly may help to speed up the process and get a decision made in a timely manner.
Social security benefits may not be enough. Experts recommend carrying private disability insurance too. Compare rates by using the free tool provided on this page.
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