In my worker’s compensation practice, those who are unable to work often ask about applying for Social Security disability. If they don’t ask, I will take the time to advise them of the advantage of receiving Social Security disability in addition to their worker’s compensation benefit.
Applying for these benefits is easy. If you have a computer at home, you can apply online from the convenience of your home. You do not need an appointment, you certainly don’t need to sit in the discomfort of a Social Security office and wait to talk to someone. If you do not have a computer, you may choose to go to your local public library to complete the online application. Whether you choose to apply online or go to the local Social Security office, it is helpful to be aware of the information that is required before you begin the process.
When you complete the application, one of the things you will be asked for is your Social Security number. If you do not have this memorized, locate your card in preparation for the completion of the application. You will be asked for the date when you disability began. If you have had an industrial injury claim, use the date given to you for that claim. If you do not have a worker’s compensation claim, this date should be close to the date you last worked. Even if you disabling conditions existed before you stopped working, the question the SSA is really asking is when did your medical condition(s) becoming disabling to the extent you were no longer able to work. You will be asked what medications you are taking, their dosages, when you first started taking them, and who prescribed them. If you gather this information before you begin, it will facilitate completion of the application. You will be asked what medical providers you have been treating with, what hospitals or clinics you have visited. Again it will be helpful to have this information ready before you begin the application process. Finally, you will be asked a lot of questions about why your medical condition(s) is/are disabling. Please think carefully about how your conditions affect your ability to function such as whether your condition impacted your attendance at work, whether you have trouble completing chores which were once simple for you, whether your interaction with friends and family has changed because of your disability. These are all topics about which you will be asked and your answers will be important in determining your eligibility. Make sure that you share this information with your medical providers so that they can document this history.
Of course, if you are denied on your initial application, do not stop. File a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of the date of the initial denial letter. If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, file a Request for Hearing within 60 days of the date of the denial of the Request for Reconsideration, what we call your second denial letter. It is best you obtain the assistance of an experienced Social Security attorney to file the Request for Hearing and to represent you at the hearing.