You may think of Social Security as something you get when you are old. However, the Social Security Administration also provides benefits for qualifying people whose medical condition prevents them from working. Even if you are in your twenties, you may still have the need to apply for benefits from Social Security.
Applying for disability benefits is a long and complex process requiring honest and thorough documentation of your condition and its effect on your life. Depending on your condition, you may find that even applying for benefits is too much to handle without the help of a knowledgeable advocate. Such an advocate can also prove beneficial if SSA denies your application, which is often the case.
Taking the first steps
You can obtain many helpful resources from the SSA offices, including a starter kit that has information and worksheets to help you gather all the necessary documentation into one place. These resources will allow you to move through the process smoothly because you will know what you will need to provide at each phase.
There are several options for the method you may use to apply for disability benefits, including speaking with an agent over the phone, using forms on the SSA website or making an appointment for an interview at one of the Fresno SSA offices. Interviews, either by phone or in person, may take an hour or more. You do not want to delay the process by not having the appropriate documentation. Some information you should have with you includes the following, but other documents may also apply to you:
- Your birth certificate, certified or original
- W-2 forms or federal tax forms from the previous year
- The Social Security numbers of you and your immediate family members
- The account number for your savings and checking account
- A completed “Medical and Job Worksheet” included in your starter kit
This worksheet will contain critical information that will help SSA agents evaluate your eligibility for benefits, for example:
- Your job history for the past 15 years
- Details of all medical testing related to your condition
- Dates, names and contact information of doctors who treated you
- Proof of medications, treatments, therapies and other medical actions you have taken to seek relief from the symptoms of your condition
The more information you provide, the better the chances that your application will be accepted. Some advisors recommend having your medications with you and obtaining copies of all your medical records to take along. You should not be shy about describing how your condition prevents you from working and how it interferes with your normal daily activities. Neither should you be shy about seeking the help you need during the SSDI process to improve your chances of a positive outcome.