Social Security Disability (SSD) Application:
What Can I Expect During The Process?
The process can be daunting even when you are at your best. Now, when maybe some days you’re unable to get out of bed in the morning, you have to begin your Social Security Disability Application. Many people consider taking on this process themselves before they call an accredited Social Security Representative or Lawyer. This is what you might expect:
The initial application process is actually more than one application. You will need to fill out a Disability Report, form SSA3368, and sign multiple copies of form SSA827, Authorization to Disclose Information to the SSA: Some people do this on line, others by telephone/mail, and some go in and fill it out with the help with a Social Security representative. The process requires completion of multiple forms, and you will be wise to be prepared with information concerning your doctors and other medical treatments. Even if you see a doctor for something you don’t think is related to your disability, it may benefit you to be certain that the Social Security Administration is aware of the impairment and your treatment. You will also need to provide your work history for the past 15 years, a list of the medications you are taking, as well as explanations of your symptoms and diagnoses. If this is an SSI claim, otherwise known as Supplemental Security Income benefits, be prepared to be asked about your financial picture.
People often ask the best method to apply. The Social Security Administration prefers an online application at www.ssa.gov. At this time only Social Security Disability (SSD) and not Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can be accessed on line. Also, there are a limited number of times you can go back into the site before your application is lost so you’ll want to make sure you have everything ready and a fairly good block of time to complete it. Some persons are just not comfortable putting their information out there in cyberspace. However, the Social Security Administration is doing more of their business on line and much of your vital information is already in their computer system. I’m convinced the old method of paper files created a number of other problems in addition to the security breach they also posed.
If you chose to go into your local Social Security office to do your application, you may want to call for an appointment. To schedule for an in-person Social Security Disability application, or an appeal, you can call their toll free number at 1-800-772-1213. This may be helpful for someone who is illiterate or blind. Certainly someone with a compromised immune system may not wish to be in a highly public area. The Social Security office may be located in an area that you will have to pay for parking, often a downtown location where it can be rather expensive to someone who is without an income. Unforeseen lengthy wait times sometimes happen even with an appointment.
If a person does not have the computer access or skills, or wishes to avoid a face-to-face application, they may call and ask that the application be mailed to them and schedule an appointment by telephone. In consideration of others, it would be appreciated that you not appear in person if you have a communicable disease or illness. If you have difficulty holding a phone, or hearing on a phone, you may want to forgo any thought of this method. If your disability is due to loss of use of your upper extremities, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic or cervical (neck) disorders, you may want to consider that you will be on the telephone for some time.
Having completed this process, Social Security will begin consideration of your claim. In fact do not expect to speak with the decision maker, but be aware that every person you talk with and/or reads your file may put in information that could potentially help or hurt your claim. The wait time until you get a decision of whether or not your claim is accepted varies greatly from region to region as well as what other things are going on in Washington, the number of applications, the state of the budget, or any number of situations. In the greater Rochester Area, I’d say over the past twenty years is has usually taken between three to six months to get an answer. You may be surprised to learn you’ve won your claim when you find some unexpected money suddenly appear in a bank account. I’m getting ahead of myself here. While waiting for a decision from your application, you may or may not be sent for a consultative exam by an independent doctor; one the Administration has chosen and paid for. You may actually see more than one doctor such as a psychiatrist and a medical doctor if your condition merits it. You can also expect to receive a packet requesting information about your activities of daily living and another packet requesting information about the work you did and the specifics involved how that work was performed. If your doctors are not responding to Social Security’s requests for records and/or medical opinion about your condition, you will likely receive a letter letting you know that also. Upon receiving such notification you may want to call that doctor’s office and ask them to respond quickly.