disability social security

Disability Social Security

The world of disability, Social Security, and filing for disability can be somewhat of a maze. You’re like a rat caught in it trying to find the cheese, only it’s a more complicated maze than you’ve ever been through before and you’ve had no training in it. All those disability forms, laws to know, definitions to understand, qualifying regulations to understand, and much, much more can be very frustrating. It’s no wonder that most people are denied on their first try at filing for disability! Disability, Social Security, and all that goes with applying for it is a daunting task. But when you need it, you really need it.

To make it easier for you, here are 5 FAQs you MUST know about disability, Social Security, and applying for it that will make it all much clearer for you.

1.  Disability Forms are Difficult to Understand….for Almost Everyone

If you can’t understand your disability forms, don’t despair. You aren’t stupid, and you aren’t alone. Even people with Ph.D.’s often have trouble understanding disability forms. They are written with legal experts in mind, not laypeople. That is why so many people hire lawyers to help them with disability, Social Security, and other similar issues. It often takes a lawyer who has been specially trained in disability law to make sense of those disability forms!

2.  Filing for Disability is Not a Quick Process

At a minimum, you’ll be waiting 3 to 4 months for a decision on your case. That is if everything goes perfectly and extremely smoothly the first time. Most cases take a lot longer than that to be approved or denied. No one ever said the world of disability, Social Security, and more was a fast-paced one. Each case has to be examined individually and lots of paperwork and verification with doctors is involved. If you’re denied on the first try, like many people are, then you have to re-apply or appeal, and that takes time, too. So don’t expect quick results. Filing for disability is a game of patience.

3.  Disability, Social Security, and the Like Have Strict Qualifications You Must Meet

Before you begin filing for disability, make sure you qualify for it. There are very strict qualification requirements to this program, and if you don’t meet even a single one of them, you will be denied. It is important to know and understand the qualifications before you apply so you don’t waste your time. Be sure you meet the Social Security definition of disability and that you have enough work credits under your belt to get approved for benefits. If you don’t know, check the Social Security website or ask a disability lawyer.

4.  Get Your Paperwork in on Time

You can be denied simply for not getting paperwork in on time. You can also be denied for your doctor not getting paperwork in on time. Yes, your doctor has to fill out paperwork for you, too, when you’re filing for disability. You may actually have a harder time getting your doctor to get paperwork in on time than doing your own paperwork. This is because doctors have other patients to attend to and other things to do, so you’ll need to probably call your doctor a lot to make sure he or she is keeping on top of things in a timely manner so you can maximize your chances of approval.

5.  If You’re Approved, You May Get a Retroactive Check

If you are approved for disability, Social Security will give you a disability determination date. That is the date they determine that you actually became disabled. The difference in time between that date and the date you are approved for disability and begin receiving benefits is time that you should have been getting paid. Your first disability payment will be the sum of each monthly payment you should have been getting for all the months between your disability determination date and the date you are approved for benefits. For some people, it can be hundreds or thousands of dollars, or sometimes more, depending on what your monthly award is and how long it’s been between your disability determination date and the date you are approved for benefits.

So when you’re filing for disability, keep these things in mind and the process should be easier for you. Disability, Social Security, and the whole tangle of it can be difficult to navigate, but not impossible, and the more knowledge you have about the maze ahead of time, the easier it will be when you apply.

applying for disability

Applying for Disability

Do you need a lawyer when applying for disability? That depends on several important factors that we will go over here. When you apply for Social Security disability, you are embarking on what can be a long, drawn out, and difficult journey, but one with very definite rewards for those who are patient and willing to advocate for themselves. You can certainly qualify for disability and get your approval letter without a lawyer, and many do. But the process of applying for disability often runs more smoothly and quicker if you have a legal expert on your side.

Here are some of the top reasons you may want to hire a lawyer when applying for disability:

1.  Applying for Disability with a Lawyer Increases Your Chances for Success the First Time

Those disability applications are not easy to understand. They are full of legal, medical, and technical jargon that even people with advanced college degrees often have difficulty fully understanding. There is a reason there is a whole field of law that specializes in filing for disability, and that is because applying for disability is complicated, with a lot of different things to understand and navigate. Plus, the laws you have to follow to successfully apply for Social Security disability are constantly changing. So having a lawyer help you get the paperwork together alone is probably going to significantly increase your chances of getting approved on your first try.

2.  Filing for Disability with a Lawyer Helps Win Appeals

You may not be approved the first time you apply for Social Security disability. This is normal. Most people are denied their first time, especially if they apply for Social Security disability the first time on their own. You can always appeal that denial, but doing it yourself is kind of like representing yourself in court….it’s not really a good idea and your chances of success are slim. You significantly boost your chances of a successful appeal when you have a lawyer representing you in your appeal. The lawyer will know just what to do, say, and present to maximize your chances of an approval. So if you were turned down for disability benefits the first time, a lawyer may be just what you need to get them on the second try.

3.  Lawyers Can Often Get You Larger Retroactive Checks When You Apply for Social Security Benefits

When you hire a lawyer to help you with applying for disability, he or she gets paid out of your retroactive check when your benefits are approved. Your retroactive check is what Social Security would have been paying you each month the whole time you were applying and appealing, since the time they determined you became officially disabled. Sometimes, that check can be rather large, even into the thousands and more, depending on how long you’ve been waiting for approval.

Your lawyer will typically take 1/3 to 2/3 of this amount as his fee, so he will fight for you with Social Security to make sure they give you the latest possible disability determination date so you get the largest possible retroactive check. After all, that’s where his money is coming from, so he’ll want to make sure it’s a lot!

Applying for disability can be done on your own, but it’s much easier with a lawyer. If you are applying for disability, you may want to consider hiring one for the above reasons, and let the experts do most of the hard work of filing for disability for you.

qualifying for disability

Qualifying for Disability

Qualifying for disability has a reputation of being difficult. There is all kinds of red tape to go through to get that coveted approval letter, and it can take months, and sometimes years to get it. You may be denied the first or even second or third time you apply for disability benefits. It’s actually the norm.

But does filing for disability have to be difficult? Not necessarily. Some people make it more difficult than it needs to be. If you are truly disabled, then qualifying for disability is inevitable, but you want to make the process go as quickly as possible. That’s why it’s so important to know just what to put on your disability application and what the requirements are for actually qualifying for disability before you even begin.

Do you qualify for disability? Here’s what you need to know before filling out your disability application.

Qualifying for Disability–Are You Really Disabled?

This is the most important question of all. Do you meet the disability definitions of the Social Security Administration. Be sure you do before beginning your disability application, because if you don’t meet the definitions, there’s no point in filing for disability. You have to have a physical or mental disability (or both) that is expected to be permanent and/or result in your eventual demise or to last at least a year. In either case, the disability must be severe enough to keep you from being able to engage in any meaningful employment. You’ll probably have to get examined by a Social Security Administration doctor to corroborate this (though not always), and your own doctor will definitely have to sign paperwork agreeing with this assessment of your condition.

Qualifying for Disability–Is Your Disability Application Complete?

Incomplete or incorrect information on the disability application is the number one cause of denials when filing for disability. Be sure to give the Social Security Administration everything they ask for when they ask for it. Don’t miss deadlines for handing in paperwork. Fill out every form with every bit of information requested, get all the exams done and medical records they want you to get, and don’t leave anything out of the application. Qualifying for disability goes a lot quicker and you have a greater chance of being approved the first time if your disability application is complete and submitted in a timely manner, so do it!

Qualifying for Disability–Have You Worked Enough to Get It?

One of the most important things in qualifying for disability is your work history. You HAVE to have one in order to get disability benefits. If you don’t, then you’ll need to apply for some alternative form of financial and medical assistance for your disability, such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. You must have worked a certain number of years and made a certain amount of money during those years to get SSDI. If you’re not sure if you’ve reached those thresholds, then check with your local Social Security office to find out if you meet the qualifications.

Qualifying for disability is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be hard if you are armed with this knowledge in advance, so be sure to be informed, and you’ll have a much easier time with things when filing for disability.

disability claims

Disability Claims

Disability claims are notorious for being routinely denied on the first or even second round. Some people try many times before finally getting their SSDI benefits approved. Some are lucky enough to be able to do this on their own, while lots of people have to turn to a lawyer for help in filing for disability and winning. So if you are disabled, can your claim be approved? And if so, how easy (or difficult) will it be to get that approval letter?

Disability Claims–They Don’t Make it Easy

First of all, most disability claims are denied because the person filing for disability did not fill out the paperwork correctly, had missing information in the paperwork, or did not file certain paperwork on time. Any of these things can and will result in a denial of SSDI benefits. While the paperwork requirements are pretty straightforward, they are also worded with a lot of legal speak and other medical and technical terms that the average person will have trouble understanding. It’s even been said that some of the paperwork instructions on disability claims are difficult for even people with advanced college degrees to understand properly.

That is why there is a whole branch of law devoted to filing for disability. People actually have to go to school to understand what exactly is required in most cases, and the laws concerning SSDI benefits are always changing. You may need to get a lawyer to get approval based on this one fact alone.

Disability Claims Have to Be Corroborated by Your Doctor

While this may seem obvious, many people ignore this fact and try to apply for SSDI benefits without seeing their doctor first. This will just get you denied right away, as SSDI is going to want medical proof that you are disabled. Once you get your doctor on board, it may still be a struggle, as your doctor will have to fill out certain paperwork and send it in to SSDI by certain deadlines, and doctors are busy people with other patients besides you. You may have to call your doctor continually to remind him or her to fill out and turn in the paperwork by a certain time, so be prepared to be your own advocate with your doctor. He or she may know you are disabled and believe you deserve benefits and need them, but getting him or her to get the disability claims paperwork done and on time can still be a challenge. Don’t let up, as this is your future and your income we’re talking about, so you want to be sure things are done on time and properly.

Disability Claims Denials–Don’t Take Them Personally and Keep Trying

The SSDI benefits system is set up to heavily scrutinize all applications and to look for any reason to deny someone a benefit award. Even though you’ve paid into the system through working for many years, the money is still being held and managed by the federal government, and they’re not going to want to let go of it easily. Initial denials of disability claims are common. In fact, most people who are filing for disability get denied the first time. Don’t take it personally. It’s not that they don’t believe you’re really disabled. They just have rules to follow in approving people and those rules don’t make it easy to get approved the first time (or even second or third in many cases). Keep trying, keep re-applying, get a lawyer if you have to, and eventually, if you are truly disabled and have a work history, your disability claims will probably be approved.



SSDI (also known as Social Security Disability) is a wonderful public safety net benefit that you can get if you are unable to work due to a disability. If you are disabled, SS disability will pay you a monthly check that is equal to a portion of the income you previously made before becoming disabled. It won’t be the full amount you were making at your job, but it will help cover your bills in most cases, or at least go a long way toward covering most of them. After you’ve been on SSDI for two years, you can also qualify for Medicare health insurance, which is another terrific benefit of the SS disability program.

But, to get SSDI, you’ve got to go through some red tape and you’ve got to know if you qualify. Here’s what to know when filing for disability to be sure you stand the greatest chance of success in getting that monthly benefit approved!

1.  SSDI–You Have to Have an Employment History to Get It

This is one of the most important things to know when filing for disability. To qualify for SS disability, you have to have an employment history. You earn credits toward disability and Medicare for every year you work, and the amount of money you’ve made over the years is averaged out in your disability award if you are approved. The more years you’ve worked and the more money you’ve made, the higher the amount you’ll be getting in your SSDI check once you’re approved. If you have no work history and are disabled, you’ll have to explore other options, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

2.  SSDI–You Have to Meet the SS Disability Definition to Get Benefits

SSDI has very specific definitions of disability which you have to meet in order to qualify for benefits. One of these definitions is that to be considered disabled, your disability must be expected to either be permanent and/or result in your eventual demise, or it must be expected to last a minimum of one year. The disability must also prevent you from engaging in any meaningful employment. Your doctor and your medical records must support this assessment. If there is any question as to your actual degree of disability, your local SSDI office will have you see one of their doctors for an independent evaluation of your condition. Your condition can be physical or mental or both, but it must meet the definitions of disability according to SSDI in order for you to be approved to get benefits from that agency.

3.  SSDI and Filing for Disability–Be Prepared to Wait

When filing for disability, don’t expect to get immediate approval. Every case must be evaluated, and you may be asked to submit additional paperwork, undergo more examinations, and even re-submit paperwork you’ve already submitted. Even the fastest approvals take a minimum of three to four months to go through. Most cases take a lot longer, even up to a year or even more to get a person qualified. So you have to be patient, and it helps if you have savings or a source of income (like from a family member or spouse) you can turn to while you’re waiting. The good news is that once you’re approved for SS disability, you will likely get a large lump sum check right at the beginning, which is retroactive for all the monthly benefit checks you should have been getting from the time you became disabled. This could end up being thousands of dollars or more, depending on your monthly benefit award and how long you waited to get it.

So if you are filing for disability, keep these things in mind when filling out the paperwork. Some people get lawyers to help them file for SS disability, since approvals are quicker and easier with the help of a lawyer most of the time. Bear in mind, though, that if you use a lawyer, you’ll have to pay him or her their fee out of the proceeds of your lump sum check once you’re approved for benefits. Still, if you are disabled and need a reliable monthly income (and health insurance with Medicare after the waiting period), then applying for SSDI is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family, and you should waste no time in starting your application so you can get benefits as soon as possible to support you.

filing for disability

Filing for Disability

Filing for disability is not going to be an easy job, but if you have to do it, then the work becomes secondary to the rewards of finding new hopes in Social Security disability benefits.  As you may know, the extensive paperwork of the Social Security disability application is going to take up a good portion of your time, and will also affect your chances of getting those benefits significantly. This is why, no matter how tedious things can become, you have to go through the motions and go through them well.  You just want your application to be complete and fully documented because this is  the cornerstone of your success in the process. And this, you can begin by getting yourself acquainted with the nine sections of your Disability Report Form (SSA-3368).

Filing for Disability–What to Expect on the Social Security Disability Application

First, expect to relay a lot of information about yourself when you apply for Social Security disability benefits.  Filing for disability will not only have you providing your name, address, telephone number, age, Social Security number, etc on the Social Security disability application, it will definitely require you to supply more relevant details, most of which are focused on your medical history, particularly in relation to your disability.  Here, you will be asked to reveal your medical records, including the medicines you took or are still taking, the doses that you are taking them, and the tests you underwent.   You will also have to provide a list of all medical professionals and hospitals or clinics that were involved in your treatment, including their contact information and the dates when you came to visit them.

Filing for Disability–Important Facts About Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

When filing for disability, however, the most important component of your application will be the relationship between your condition and your job.   With this information should come a background of your work environment, because this is going to affect how Social Security determines the impact that your disability will have on your job.  You will also be asked for information regarding your educational and training history on your Social Security disability application, as well as other matters, including your vocational rehabilitation, employment or other support services.  Of course, space will be given for your remarks.

Filing for Disability–Information to Have for the Application

Apart from the information you supply on your SSA-3368,  filing for disability requires you to submit a number of documents pertinent to your identity and your claim of disability.  You must provide this information if you want a chance at getting Social Security disability benefits. These documents include your birth certificate, medical records, including your medical release forms and diagnostic test results, as well as a copy of your latest W-2 Form, if you were employed before disability, and your latest federal tax return, if you were self-employed.

It is important to realize that delays in disability claims processing and even rejections are often due to incomplete submissions of requirements, incomplete supplied information and other hitches that could very well be avoided if the applicant had only spent more time looking into the form and the list of requirements.  However, rejections in general are mostly associated with misinformation, where people who are not even eligible spend time preparing documents, filling out forms and lodging application.  When filing for disability, therefore, first comes understanding the criteria for eligibility, and then working on documents and other requirements for submission.

filing for disability

Filing for Disability

Filing for disability is one of the scenarios we all would like to avoid, but sometimes, it becomes the most rational thing to do under certain circumstances,  if not the only option we have.  The process of filing a disability claim with the Social Security Administration can be long and tedious, and this is why it is ideal to begin it as soon as you can.  The longer you stall, the less benefits you get, mainly because your date of filing is bound to affect how much payout you will be receiving once your application is approved.

The reality, however, is not all people filing for disability will actually get the benefits they’re rooting for.  Issues such as your work history, the extent of your disability, your age and many others will factor in on whether or not you are eligible when you file a disability claim with the Social Security Administration.  Another thing you should realize is, over 50% of those filing for disability are turned down because of non-eligibility. If you want to save yourself the trouble of going through a claims process and not getting anything from it, assess yourself honestly prior to lodging an application.

Filing for Disability–Self Assessment #1: Are You Working Now?

First, are you currently working?  The Social Security Administration sets a specific amount that your current earnings should not exceed for you to qualify for benefits.  This amount changes every year.  If you’re unemployed when filing for disability, the more  you qualify at this phase of the screening process.

Filing for Disability–Self Assessment #2: Is Your Medical Condition Bad Enough to Satisfy the Social Security Administration?

Second, how bad is your medical condition?  If it significantly reduces your ability to perform activities of daily living such as walking, taking a bath, or shopping for groceries for, at least, a year, then you are a good candidate for disability benefits and stand a better chance of success with your disability claim.

Filing for Disability–Self Assessment #3: Is Your Disability Claim Covered Under the SSA’s Guidelines?

Third, does your medical condition fall under the SSA’s List of Disabilities?  There are many forms of disabilities, but not all of them will be considered disabling enough by law.  However, if your condition is not explicitly included in the list, but equals any listed condition in terms of severity, then you may be considered for benefits.

Fourth, can you still perform your duties in the job you held prior to your medical condition?  If yes, you will not be considered for benefits. But if the Social Security Administration is convinced that your present state will no longer make you capable of holding the same type of job, it will assess you for the next and final criterion.

Fifth, are you capable of holding a new type of job?  The SSA will be evaluating your capacity to hold other jobs by considering many factors, such as your medical condition, educational background, skills and even your age when you’re filing for disability.  When they determine that your condition has rendered you completely incapable of any type of work, then you are qualified for benefits and you can expect a letter informing you that you application has been approved within the next three to five months.

You’d probably think that just because a person lost his arm, he is automatically qualified under an SSA disability program.  Filing for disability is a stringent process, so make sure you evaluate yourself first to avoid disappointment and a waste of time and resources.

filing for disability

Filing for Disability

When filing for disability, there are many things you can do to help you fast-track the process.   You’ve probably read or heard about a million tips on how to apply for disability or SSI disability, and maybe by now, you think you’ve got a good case going.  However, aside from the things that you have to do to get an approval, you also have to look at the flip side – what you should NOT do.  Of course, both are important.

Filing for Disability–Pitfall #1: Turning in Inaccurate Paperwork

When filing for disability, there are three pitfalls you have to avoid, and the first is turning in paperwork that you are in doubt of.  This is true whether you are going to apply for disability, SSI disability, or both. For example, one of the things you have to prepare and submit is a list of doctors and hospitals or clinics that were involved or are still involved in your treatment after your disability.  If you are not sure about the exact names or contact information of any of them, do not lodge your application just yet.  The danger is to have the the administrative law judge doubt the authenticity of your claims because of information that turns out to be inaccurate, no matter how innocent you are in committing the error.

Filing for Disability–Pitfall #2: Underestimating Your Condition When You Apply for Disability

Second, in order to increase your chances of an approval when filing for disability, never underestimate your condition.  You have to give a very accurate picture of how it   has affected your life. There’s no use being honest when you can’t be honest all the way.  For example, if you just lost a leg when you apply for disability or SSI disability (or both) and tell the judge you can still manage to be by yourself in your apartment, you have to tell him as well that you have to ask your building’s security guard to help you up and down two flights of stairs each time you go out to buy something and come back up to your floor. By being as vivid as possible when describing how your disability affects your life, you increase your chances of getting benefits.

Filing for Disability or SSI Disability–Pitfall #3: Overestimating or Exaggerating Your Condition

Conversely, the third pitfall you’d like to avoid when filing for disability is trying too hard to play up your condition that the judge begins to think you’re fake. For example, your medical records say, a vehicular accident has rendered you partially blind.  This is supposed to hamper your performance as a construction foreman, which was the job you held prior to your accident. But when you start telling the court that you could never leave home without someone to serve as your guide, you could be sending the wrong signals.  People who evaluate disability applications are people who’ve been doing it for years upon years, and ploys like this just don’t work.

When filing for disability, you shouldn’t only know the things that can help you get an approval, but also those that can stand in the way between you and the benefits you want. By considering both, you will be able to strike a balance where the only thing possible is filing for disability in the most efficient way, and being successful at the end of the process.

filing for disability

Filing for Disability

Filing for disability is something a lot of people do but get denied for 50% of the time. What’s even more surprising is the reason behind the statistic – non-eligibility.  People can spend a lot of time and, perhaps, a little cash trying to gather the requirements, making frequent trips to their doctor in the hopes of building a case strong enough to convince the administrative judge that they deserve to receive benefits.  In the end, all their efforts fail.  Aside from cases that involve unique or isolated circumstances, most Social Security disability denials are due to misread or misunderstood information.  If you are considering filing for disability, check your facts. Learning how to apply for disability isn’t hard, but it is very specific as far as the requirements go, so be sure you know them for your highest chance of success.

Filing for Disability–Fact #1

First off,  Social Security Disability defines disability as a medical situation that renders a person completely incapable of working.  This is important to know when filing for disability. Furthermore, this medical situation should involve a sickness that can lead to death, or has affected or is expected to affect the applicant for a minimum of one year.  The term, “disability” is also strictly reserved for where the individual is completely, not partially, disabled, and knowing this is a big part of how to apply for disability correctly.

Filing for Disability: How to Apply for Disability–Fact #2

Social Security Disability has come up with a list of conditions it acknowledges as “disabling.” What most people don’t know is that filing for disability benefits is also possible for mental conditions such as bipolar disorder. However, criteria for eligibility can be stringent.  One of the first things you need to know about how to apply for disability is that the applicant’s case has to be medically documented, either continuously or per episode.  Second, the condition has to be observable by other people, where the affected person shows a dramatic decline in personal and social functioning and has, at least, a two-year history of chronic affective disorder where symptoms are managed by medications or psychological therapy.

Filing for Social Security Disability–Fact #3

If you’re filing for disability, the above are the first few points you should consider when deciding whether or not to go for claims. Next is your work history. You have to be fully insured, meaning, you have earned 40 credits in ten years spent in jobs where you were covered, where one credit equals $ 4, 480 in earnings (2011).  If you’ve been working for less than a decade, a different set of criteria will be used to assess your eligibility in terms of work duration.

Third, when filing for disability, expect to be evaluated by virtue of your latest job, where you are supposed to have earned no less than 20 credits within the last five years (still out of a ten-year work history) counting from the calendar quarter of your disability backwards.  Alternatively, young people who became disabled without possibly having spent ten years in a job will be screened using different but related tests. These are all parts of how to apply for disability that you should be prepared for, as you will encounter them in the application process.

Aside from work duration, another point Social Security will consider is your capability to work in another environment, where your age, educational and employment background, skills and medical condition all factor in when filing for disability.  The greater the possibility that they find you capable of holding a certain type of job, the lower your chances of getting benefits.

When filing for disability, make sure you have your facts and information straight in order to avoid wasting time, energy and funds.