If you are between the ages of 50 and 65 years and suffer from a disability that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits

If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability (SSD), the application process may seem daunting. You will be required to provide much information about the particulars of your case, as well as fill out all of the required forms and paperwork. Below, we will walk you through the initial steps of your SSD application.

Step 1: Intent to File

The first step in this process is called making your “intent to file.” This can be done easily online, and while it establishes your intent to file for Social Security benefits, it does not mean that you are required to complete the application process if you change your mind down the road. It’s important to do this as early as possible because the information that you provide on this form can later be used to calculate back pay that you may be eligible to receive if your claim is successful.

Step 2: Determining your eligibility to receive benefits

Once you have declared your intent to file, the next step is proving that your medical disability is severe enough that it will prevent you from working for at least one full year. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will utilize a document called the “Blue Book” to determine if your condition qualifies to receive benefits. The Blue Book describes medical conditions and how/if they qualify for social security benefits. Although the process may seem simple to navigate, determining if you are eligible for benefits can be an involved and lengthy process. For example, breast cancer, while in common parlance would certainly be considered a severe ailment, it would not be considered eligible unless it has spread to the furthest region of the breast or to other places in the body.

Step 3: Verifying your work history and FICA contributions

If your condition is listed in the Blue Book and you may qualify to receive benefits, the SSA will then look at your work history and your contribution to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax. To be eligible for benefits, you must have contributed to the FICA tax throughout your employment and also have earned enough work credits from your employment history. This is a relatively straightforward process that is heavily reliant on your employer providing the SSA with information regarding your employment. Once they have filled out the proper paperwork, they can send the required documents over to the Social Security Administration without much work on your end.

Step 4: Submitting your application

When you are ready to submit your application to be considered to receive Social Security Disability benefits, you will need to make sure you have all of the required medical documents, financial reports and any additional files they request for your medical condition. The process of determining eligibility can be a confusing and difficult procedure to go through on your own. Consulting an experienced disability attorney could not only be beneficial for helping you through the application process, but they can also help you understand your options and answer any questions that you may have along the way. Once your application has been submitted, the SSA will review your case, medical records and the recommendation from your doctors to determine if your application will be approved. You will receive a notification once they have made their decision which will outline what brought them to that outcome. This process can take anywhere from a few months to over a year.

Important documents to consider

It is important to note that one of the most important elements of this process is gathering records from your doctor – and not just records that say you’re sick or disabled. Equally important are records showing that you have followed the doctor’s orders for treatment and are still unable to work. The fact that you’ve listened to your doctor and are still unable to work proves to the SSA that your condition is truly a disability.

What if my claim is denied?

If your claim is denied, you can complete a “request for reconsideration.” The request for reconsideration is not likely to be accepted unless you provide additional documentation. This may include proof of your medical condition, doctor’s visits, and ongoing treatment. It’s absolutely essential that you follow your doctor’s recommended plan for treatment because failing to do so can hinder your ability to have your request accepted.

If you appeal is denied, then you can request a hearing before an administrative judge. This is where you have the best opportunity to have your request accepted, and you will need to be represented by a lawyer.

The next steps

Starting from the beginning of your application process, you have the best chance of success if you are working with a disability lawyer. Having an experienced attorney by your side can make sure that you don’t make simple mistakes in your application process that will cost you your disability payments in the long run. A disability lawyer can help you prepare for your hearing and will not be paid until your application is approved and you recover back pay.

SocialSecurityDisability.com is here to help you navigate your options and connect you with an experienced disability lawyer before beginning your application process. Fill out our questionnaire on this page to be contacted by a local attorney to discuss your options and the details of your potential case.

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