If you are thinking about filing for social security disability benefits, it is important to understand the process. The Social Security Administration has divided this process into 5 basic steps or stages. The cycle of an SSD claim can be lengthy so having a basic understanding of each step will be helpful. This article will review the first stage: the initial application.
Stage 1: Initial Application
This step is the most important because it lays the foundation for the initial decision regarding your claim and any subsequent decisions or appeals will be based on the information provided in this step. So being thorough and accurate are necessary. There is a large amount of detailed information that you will be required to provide on forms from the Social Security Administration, including, but not limited to:
- Personal and family information
- If you served in the military, you will need to supply service records
- Work history with names of employers, dates worked, salary and maybe even job duties
- Detailed medical records (details of your disabling condition, doctors and/or hospital visits and exams, diagnosis, treatments, medications, etc.) Financial information such as your tax records (W-2s, and tax filings)
- If you do not have these, the SSA will pay for and collect all your relevant medical records at this stage.
- Federal tax filings and copies of W2s
At this stage, it can take up to four months before a decision is made on your claim. The key here is to be patient and if contacted to supply additional information, do not delay in responding to the request. Being slow to respond may delay any decision on your disability claim, and if you do not answer their requests for information, your claim may be completely denied.
Be accurate when completing the sections on this application. Any false information could result in quick denial of your claim. If you get a notice from the Social Security Administration stating that your application has been “disapproved”, don’t feel rejected. 65% of all initial applicants are denied for many different reasons. In fact, that denial letter you receive will contain information about your rights to appeal the initial decision, which will take us to explain how stage 2 works.