How to File a Social Security Disability Benefits Claim

<< Page 1: Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

As soon as you realize you are no longer able to work due to disability, you must file your claim with the SSA.  The SSA generally maintains a waiting period of at least five months before claims begin being paid, which may cause financial problems for some disabled workers if they wait too long.  Back payment on delay claims, for example a disabled individual does not file until their personal funds run low, only goes back one year before the actual date of filing.  Filing a claim begins with contacting your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office.

Documents Needed for Successful SSDI Claims

SSA workers will complete the forms for you, but as the disabled individual, you must bring a number of pieces of identifying and supporting documentation.  These items will generally always include:

  • Proof of legal U.S. citizenship or birth certificate
  • Personal contact information
  • Medical documentation, including complete lists of names, addresses, and notes from attending healthcare professionals and their contact information
  • If a veteran, Form DD 214 discharge papers
  • If employed previously, your latest W-2 return or other relevant tax return form
  • All relevant workers’ compensation information, including medical documentation, employer statements, and proof of payment amount
  • SSN of spouse and dependents
  • Current checking or saving account and routing number
  • You work experience from the previous fifteen (15) years, including type of work and other proof of employment

The SSA is extremely helpful during the claims process, even if you do not have all of the information listed above.  SSA staff can fill out forms for you, and if they need to investigate your claims, will pay all expenses related toward your proving the claim.  Also, emergency assistance is available to disabled workers and their families during the waiting periods between filing and payment of claims if you are approved.

Can I Appeal a Denied Social Security Disability Claim?

Most claims are denied due to the SSA assuming you are able to find substantial and gainful employment elsewhere, in spite of your disability.  If you want to appeal a denied SSDI claim, there are four appellate levels, including:

  • Requesting reconsideration, which should include further documentation and evidence supporting your original claim
  • Administrative hearing at your local SSA office, which is an informal hearing before an administrative law judge
  • Social Security Appeals Council, located in Washington D.C., considers a claim
  • Federal court, which entails filing suit against the SSA
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