In this article, you will learn:
- How to begin the process for applying for benefits
- What is required to begin the process
- How having available funds can impact your application
Is it ever too early to file a claim for disability benefits? Potentially, particularly if you are still working or not receiving medical care. I feel that the optimum time to apply is as soon as both you and the doctor who has treated you believe that you are not going to be able to return to work in the next 12 months, or at least be able to work in any substantial capacity. The way that Social Security defines substantial work activity or substantial gainful activity is work where you have an income of about $1350 in a month before taxes in 2022. When you and your doctor both believe that it’s time to leave work, then the day you stop working, you can apply.
How To Begin The Process To Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits
The initial application can be done through an attorney’s office, directly online with Social Security, or through an interview with your local Social Security office. Before even getting to that application process, it’s usually best for an individual to consult an attorney to figure out whether they have a reasonable claim for benefits. It’s also a good idea to discuss filing for disability with your treating doctors to find out whether based on their medical expertise they really believe that you are disabled or have functional limitations that would qualify for disability.
In regard to getting started, that’s what my staff and I do all day long. We do an initial consultation with folks that are just wanting to learn more or are wondering about the process and we help them figure out if they do have a claim. That’s a free consultation. The clients don’t owe any money until the case is awarded, and that’s when we get paid. If they don’t win, we don’t get any attorney’s fees.
It is important to note that just calling an attorney doesn’t mean you need to put money down, have a retainer, or anything like that.
The Necessary Documentation And Information When Applying For SSDI Benefits
There is so much documentation. When we are looking at the application, the primary pieces of information are the medical history, doctors’ names, addresses, phone numbers, dates that you actually saw these medical providers, medications, the doses, what are you taking them for, and who has prescribed these things. Social Security looks at the last 15 years of your work background in their decision making, and so, having a general idea of the work you’ve done over the last 15 years is helpful. We can get a little more specific on the work as we go forward with the claim, but as a starting point, Social Security wants to sort of get bullet point information about what you’ve done and what your job was.
Beyond that, it’s basic personal data; I would say a good half of the application most folks can answer off the top of their head. As the claim goes forward, after the application is filed, the information that Social Security are going to come back to most is going to be the medical documentation. They are looking for a clear diagnosis from your doctor and diagnostic information that provides some sort of objective proof of the problem, whether it’s from an X-ray or an MRI or other testing.
For most folks, I would say that the opportunity to meet with an attorney to understand what the process is and understand what the goal is in filing for disability is important, because it helps frame that conversation that you are going to have with the doctor, how you are going to pursue medical care, and what you actually need in order to be able to prove that you are disabled. There are people who have years and years of medical treatment that sort of treat the symptoms and provide a baseline of what’s going on, but none of that may add up to what Social Security is looking for in their evaluation. So, being able to put it into the kind of language that Social Security speaks is important.
How Funds In Your Bank Account Can Affect Applying For Benefits
If you are filing for that Social Security Disability Insurance benefit, the one you pay into Social Security for, then the money you have saved doesn’t matter. You can have millions of dollars in savings and it’s not going to affect your access to these benefits as long as you’ve paid Social Security taxes and have enough work credits in the system to qualify. For most folks, that is having worked at least five of the last ten years, and paying Social Security taxes in those years.
If we are talking about that SSI benefit where you are getting a benefit due to lack of income or resources, you really must be essentially destitute to qualify for that. For an individual, it’s less than $2000 in any sort of resource. That may be money in the bank or an IRA, or it might be a life insurance policy that has value to it, or it might be the fact that you own property that you don’t live on, or any extraneous property that could be sold. So, you really must get rid of all those resources to be able to qualify under SSI.
Under the SSDI program, you can have as many resources as you like. Under SSI, you can own the house that you live in as long as you don’t own property that is not separate from the principal residence, and you can have a primary vehicle. However, anything beyond that, they are going to count as a resource or asset that could be sold or transferred to sustain yourself.
For more information on Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (704) 412-4773 today.
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