Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits based on financial need.
You can apply for SSDI or SSI benefits through the Social Security Administration by mail, telephone, internet, or in person at a local office. Filing in person is recommended.
Five tips to consider in your application process are:
1. Call and make an appointment
Social Security will rarely, if ever, allow you to meet with a representative and complete the application the day that you walk into the Social Security office. Call ahead and make an appointment to meet with a representative. Otherwise you will likely end up waiting in line only to be told to come back at a later date.
2. Make a list of all your providers
You will want to put together a list of all of your medical providers, including name, address, phone numbers, and any other contact information. Make it as easy as possible for the claims division to acquire the records that allow you to make your case that you are entitled to disability benefits. Spending the extra time in organizing your information can only help your goal of reaching a favorable decision.
3. Be thorough in your list of impairments/illnesses
Many times people only tell the Social Security representatives about the major issues. They often don’t think to include minor uses, such as cholesterol, high or low blood pressure, and other minor aches and pains. It’s important to tell Social Security about all of your illnesses and injuries, big or small. Very rarely does Social Security make a decision based solely on one condition. It is usually the combination of all of your impairments that makes you unable to achieve “substantial, gainful employment” and entitles you to disability benefits. Don’t self-select which symptoms are important.
4. Don’t exaggerate injuries/illnesses
While it’s important to report all of your conditions, do not embellish the details. Many of the representatives who will be helping you complete the application have years of experience and can identify when someone is lacking credibility in the description of their injury/impairment. It is important that you articulate what is bothering you and how you are limited, but don’t exaggerate.
5. Fill out the paperwork
After you complete your initial application, you will likely get some additional forms requesting more information or asking for clarification on an issue. Please fill these forms out on a timely basis. Many claims are denied on account of Social Security not having all of the information that they requested and/or enough information to evaluate the claim. Don’t allow your claim to be denied because you failed to complete all of the paperwork that was required.
If you have any questions in the application process or would like an experienced NH disability lawyer working on your behalf, please contact us. We would love to have a part in your success.