When disability affects any member of a family, the financial impact can be great. Social Security disability programs can provide monthly support, ensuring the entire family has what it needs to get by.
The documentation you need when applying for benefits depends on your personal situation and your family dynamic. Here are just a few examples of the kinds of documents and information you’ll want to pull together before starting your disability application:
Medical Records and Doctors’ Statements
You will need to give the Social Security Administration (SSA) many details about your medical history. This is easiest if you have as many of your medical records as possible at your fingertips when filling out your application.
A detailed statement from your doctor can be beneficial, but the application specifically asks for formal names of all your medical conditions, dates of diagnoses, medications and other treatments, and dates and locations of any tests, surgeries, or other procedures.
Work History and Education Records
The SSA reviews your employment history, job skills and duties, and your formal education as well as job training when determining eligibility for benefits.
Old pay stubs or other work documents can give you the names, addresses, and phone numbers of former employers, and your old job titles and previous pay information. You’ll want to collect similar information about schools or training programs you attended in the past.
Contact Information for Doctors and Others
The disability application requires contact information for your primary care doctor, medical specialists, hospitals, clinics, and any other healthcare providers.
If you don’t have the addresses, phone numbers, and names of these medical professionals handy, you’ll need to track them down. Billing statements, appointment summaries, and other records from your doctors contain these details.
Without this contact information, it can be difficult for the SSA to retrieve your medical records.
You will also need to provide the SSA contact information on others who know about your daily life and the challenges you face because of your disability. These may be friends, family members, or a social worker. Have the names, addresses, and phone numbers of these people ready before applying.
Financial Records and Bank Statements
You’ll need records of your income and other financial details. This is especially true if you’re applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits instead of, or in addition to, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Both of these disability programs require information on your financial situation, but SSI eligibility is largely based on economic circumstances.
Information on Your Children and Spouse
If you’re married or a parent and you’re applying for benefits for yourself, you’ll also need information on your spouse and children, including Social Security numbers, birthdates, and their living arrangements. This is because your husband or wife and your children may be able to receive dependent benefits.
Getting Help with Your Claim
Filing for disability can be confusing and intimidating. You do not have to go it alone though. You can have a friend, family member, social worker, Social Security advocate, or lawyer assist you throughout the process.
A lawyer, in particular, can be an invaluable resource. He or she can help you make a solid argument for disability and assist you in obtaining difficult to locate medical records and other documentation.
If you’re denied benefits initially, a lawyer can additionally help you file an appeal and can represent you before the administrative law judge that reviews your claim.