If you’re unable to work due to a disability, you may be considering filing for Social Security disability benefits. For your Social Security disability claim to be approved, you’ll need to demonstrate to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your illness or injury prevents you from working in any type of job, for at least a year.
The first step in getting approved for Social Security disability is to apply for benefits. While you can apply for Social Security disability online at www.ssa.gov, many disability applicants prefer to complete the paper version of Form SSA-16-F6, Application for Disability Insurance Benefits. While this disability application form is fairly straightforward, it’s important that you fill it out carefully, completely, and honestly. It takes an average of 3-4 months to receive a decision after applying for Social Security disability, and if there are errors or incomplete information on your SSA Form-16-F-6, it could further delay the decision-making process.
It’s a very good idea to contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney as early as possible in the disability claims process. Over 70% of disability applicants have their claims denied, and are then forced to undergo the SSA’s appeals process, which could last two years or more. A helpful Social Security lawyer can ensure that your disability application is filled out properly and will give you the best chance of being approved for benefits.
Although most of the SSA-16-F-6 form asks for basic facts such as your address, Social Security number, and date of birth, there are also more specific questions that may require additional information to answer. Before filling out your application for disability benefits, make sure you know the following:
- The date you last worked
- The dates of military service (if any)
- The names and addresses of any employers that you worked for in the previous or current years
- The total amount of your earnings for both the previous and current years
- The dates of any marriages and divorces
Also, take special note of question 4(a) of the Application for Disability Insurance Benefits, which asks “What are the illnesses, injuries, or conditions that limit your ability to work? (Give a brief description).” While you should keep your answer brief, it’s important that you include every condition that contributes to your inability to work. Even an illness or injury which, alone, wouldn’t prevent you from working, should still be listed. This is because the SSA will consider the combined impact of all of your conditions, illnesses or injuries, when determining if you’re able to sustain employment.
Once you’ve completed the disability application form, make sure you carefully read the section titled “Important Information About Disability Insurance Benefits.” This section explain the requirement that you submit (or assist the SSA in obtaining) your medical evidence, and give the SSA permission to directly contact your treating medical providers. You should also take note of Section III, “Reporting Responsibilities,” and on the last page, “Changes to Be Reported and How to Report.” These list the circumstances in which you’re required to notify the SSA, such as if your medical condition improves, you have a change in marital status, or return to work.
Make a copy to keep for yourself, and then mail the disability application form to your local Social Security office. This office will process your application, and send your file to your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS), which makes the decision on whether or not your claim is approved.