Are you planning on applying for Social Security disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA)? If so, you’ll need to prepare certain documentation and information before applying at a disability office. This guide explains how to prepare and how an attorney may assist you.
When applying for Social Security disability benefits, bring the following documents to the disability office:
- Birth certificate (or, if you don’t have your birth certificate, another proof-of-birth document)
- Proof of U.S. citizenship/status as a lawful alien
- If you served in the military prior to 1968, military discharge papers
- W-2 forms and/or the previous year’s self-employment tax returns
- A completed Adult Disability Report
- Medical documentation (such doctors’ reports, test results, etc.) proving you have a disability
- Documentation of any workers’ compensation benefits (or similar benefits) you have already received
Don’t worry if you don’t have all these documents. Instead of delaying applying for Social Security disability benefits, you can simply head to your local disability office and begin the application process with the documentation you do have.
Along with preparing the above documents, you should prepare to answer common questions about the following topics:
- Your name
- Your age/date of birth (which you will need to offer proof of)
- Your gender
- Your Social Security number
- Your place of birth
- Your status as a citizen or lawful alien
- Whether you’ve ever filed for Social Security benefits, Medicare or Supplemental Security Income, or whether anyone has ever done so on your behalf in the past
- Any other Social Security numbers you’ve ever used
- Military service prior to 1968 (including dates of service and eligibility to receive a monthly benefit from a military or Federal civilian agency)
- Whether you or your current spouse have ever worked in the railroad industry
- Whether, based on being an employee of the Federal government, its States, or local subdivisions, you qualify to receive a pension or annuity
- Whether you’ve earned credits under the Social Security system of another country
- Whether you’re married, and if so, your spouse’s name, date of birth, and Social Security number (if you know it; additionally, you may need to provide this information about any former spouses)
- Dates and places of all of your marriages
- Information about workers’ compensation benefits you’ve filed for or plan to file for
- Whether a parent was dependent on you for at least half of their support at the time you became disabled
- Whether, during the calendar year when you had no earnings, you had a child under the age of 3 years living with you
- Whether you had earnings in every year since 1978
- Employer names or self-employment information
- Earnings from this year and last year
- Any money you have received or expect to receive from an employer since being unable to work
- The date you became unable to work and whether you remain unable to work
After applying for Social Security disability benefits, the SSA will review your claim and may contact you with additional questions or requests. Respond to these promptly.
Upon completing the review process, the SSA will send you a letter letting you know whether they approved or denied your claim. This letter will also include information regarding any next steps you should take. If the SSA denied your claim, you can appeal the denial. Strongly consider enlisting the help of an attorney when doing so.
According to the SSA, the average approval rate for initial claims is 21%. Simply applying for Social Security disability benefits doesn’t guarantee you will receive them.
A lawyer may improve your chances of securing the benefits you deserve. They may also provide valuable help if the SSA denies your claim. To learn more, complete the Free Case Evaluation on this page to get connected with an independent, participating attorney who subscribes to the website.