When your injury or debilitating condition renders you unable to work, it’s time to explore the option of filing for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). But how do you know if you will qualify for disability through Social Security? If you’ve paid into the Social Security system throughout your lifetime and are disabled before you reach retirement age, you may be eligible for benefits through SSDI. SSI, on the other hand, is funded by general tax dollars, not Social Security taxes, even though it’s managed through the Social Security Administration. For people who are over 65, blind or disabled, and have little to no income, filing and receiving an SSI claim can provide cash to meet the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.
Keep in mind that if you were injured because of your employment, you may be eligible for worker’s compensation instead of Social Security disability. If your injury or illness is tied to your employment, learn more about workers’ compensation here.
Where Do I Start?
There are three ways to apply for Social Security Disability: you can call to make an in-person appointment at your local Social Security office (check online for office hours and potential closures due to Covid-19), you may apply online, or you can apply by phone.
Filing By Phone
For many, applying by phone can be the easiest option. You may call 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, or if you are hearing impaired, you may call TTY 1-800-325-0778.
If you choose to apply by phone, it’s best to be prepared with all the documentation that you can have regarding your illness or injury.
According to the Social Security Administration, here is the information about you that you’ll need to have on hand when you make a call to file your claim.
- Your Social Security number and proof of your age
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you and the dates of your visits
- Names and dosages of all the medications you are taking
- Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers, that you already have in your possession
- Laboratory and test results
- A summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did
- Your most recent W-2 form or, if you were self-employed, a copy of your federal tax return
Filing in Person
If you would prefer to file in person at your local Social Security Administration office, it’s highly advised to call to make an appointment first. At the time this blog is written, all Social Security Administration local offices remain closed due to Covid-19. Once they are open, you can locate the appropriate office for you using the SSA’s zip code locator.
When filing in person, you will need the same documentation as listed above that you’d need to have available if you were filing by phone.
Filing your disability claim online is probably the easiest and fastest way to begin your claim. You’ll need to upload the appropriate documents listed above but can do so at your own pace and in the privacy of your home. Filing by phone and filing in person are both great options for you if you don’t have reliable internet access, or aren’t comfortable sharing your information online.
When do I Contact a Disability Attorney to Help With my Claim?
There are certain parts of the claim process that you must do on your own. However, along the way, you’ll find that the expertise of a local, experienced disability attorney is extremely valuable to you. So when is the best time to contact a disability attorney to help with my claim?
When You Begin
If you are still contemplating applying for Social Security benefits, but haven’t yet taken the first step to apply by phone, online, or in person, it’s a good time to seek a case evaluation with a qualified and experienced disability attorney. It’s free. By seeking a free case evaluation, a disability attorney can determine how to best present your case to avoid a denial. Don’t allow fear of the cost to stop you from seeking a disability lawyer. They only collect their fee if you win your case and receive your past-due benefits or back pay.
In the Middle of the Process
Once you’ve applied for disability benefits, you’ll want to make your case as strong as possible. That’s when you can contact a disability lawyer. Don’t get overwhelmed in the middle of the process. You can accidentally miss important deadlines and steps. A disability lawyer can make sure you stay on the right track by making sure important information isn’t left out of your file.
After You’ve Been Denied
If your SSI claim was denied, it’s still not too late to contact a disability attorney. The SSA denies people who deserve disability benefits all the time. Keep in mind that 64% of all initial SSI claims are, in fact, denied. Contact us immediately, and we can step in to help. With the right legal representation and assistance, we can help you not only understand the steps to claiming disability but to help you receive the benefits even after an initial denial.
You don’t have to navigate your Social Security disability claim alone. We are here to help our clients win the disability that they deserve, and we understand how stressful the process can be. We’ve helped over 40,000 people in Georgia receive disability, workers’ compensation, or Veterans disability for over 45 years. We’re here to help you, too.
If your Supplemental Security Income claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.