You think that you may be disabled — but you aren’t sure about how to file for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits.
The whole process may seem scary and intimidating — but it doesn’t have to be. Here is a breakdown of what to do and what to expect when you get started.
How to begin the SSDI application process
To file for SSDI, you first need to contact the Social Security Administration and submit an application for benefits. The vast majority of people can actually begin their application process online.
During this part of the application, SSA will check your work history to see if you have enough “work credits” to qualify for benefits. Because SSDI works something like an insurance policy, you have to have paid a certain amount of money into the program through wage and tax deductions to qualify.
If you pass the initial screening, SSA will collect additional information about your disabling conditions, your work history, your education, your doctors and the treatments or medications you’ve tried. All of that will be sent to the state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) for evaluation.
You may be contacted again, several times, for more information about your condition and your abilities — and you may be asked to go to consultative examination so that the agency can gather more information.
While you can expect a lengthy wait, you will then eventually receive either an approval or a denial. Unfortunately, unfair denials are common — which means that you may have to file an appeal.
What to do if your Social Security Disability claim is denied
There will be clues in your denial letter that can help you understand the basis for the decision — but overcoming the hurdles before you may not be easy, even if your condition seems obvious. Often, the wisest move you can make when trying to overcome an SSDI denial is to get experienced assistance.