If you are a resident of San Jose and believe you may be eligible for disability benefits, there are several ways you can apply. The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a website through which you can apply by yourself, without any professional assistance. However, there are important benefits you could enjoy if you do work with someone who knows the best practices to follow when applying for disability benefits from Social Security.
Sackett and Associates Advocates for Social Security Disability specializes in helping disabled people prepare and file the most complete and compelling disability claim packages, increasing the chance of winning approval. Filing an important official benefits application without any prior experience heightens the chances that the applicant will omit an important document or fail to highlight significant details about their medical condition that would have a positive impact on the SSA’s approval decision.
Eligibility for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The first step in applying for disability benefits is determining if you meet the eligibility criteria. To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled:
A disability is a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that lasts or is expected to last 12 months (or result in death) and prevents you from performing substantial gainful activities.
The measure of “substantial gainful activities” in 2023 is being able to earn $1,470 per month.
Both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSD) use the same definition of a disability, though the programs differ substantially in all other respects.
Work credits: Another basic criterion to be eligible for SSD benefits is having accumulated enough work credits over your working life. The minimum number of work credits is usually 40, of which you can accrue a maximum of 4 per year. When a worker is too young to have worked a full 10 years, then a lower measure of work credits is acceptable, depending on the claimant’s age at the time they file their disability claim.
Unlike SSD benefits eligibility which is based on work credits and does not consider a claimant’s unearned income or financial resources, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program exclusively for disabled people with low incomes and very limited financial resources.
Information You Will Need to Gather to File for Disability
Once you have determined your eligibility, you will need to gather the necessary information to complete your application. This includes all your medical records from each of your treating healthcare providers, as well as blood and lab test results, x-ray reports, MRI and CT-scan reports, and all the notes of observations recorded by each care provider.
The records must demonstrate the existence of a physical or mental impairment (or combination of impairments) severe enough to prevent you from working steadily enough to earn the minimum amount designated by the Social Security Administration.
The significant entries in the records are not limited to only diagnoses. They also include whether the patient is following recommendations which may be regular medication, therapy sessions, and exercise. Other significant data relates to whether the disability claimant is continuing to engage in conduct that is counterproductive to their recovery, smoking, using unprescribed drugs, or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
The work of gathering all these documents together and then organizing them in a manner that will aid the SSA’s case reviewers in recognizing your disability is time-consuming and complicated. Living with a disability is difficult enough. Expecting yourself to accomplish all the work necessary to build a compelling disability claim package is probably accepting too much of a burden.
How Professional Disability Advocates Can Help
Whether you use highly-trained disability advocates like Sackett and Associates Advocates for Social Security Disability, or you choose to hire a disability lawyer, getting assistance from an expert who has extensive experience working on Social Security Disability claims is strongly recommended.
Appealing If Your Disability Claim Is Denied Initially
If your application for disability benefits is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision. You can request a reconsideration, a hearing before an administrative law judge, and further appeals if necessary. But assessing the grounds for your denial and knowing what to highlight in your appeal is better left to a professional advocate or disability lawyer.
More than half of all SSD claims are denied initially, often unjustly. But more than half of all appeals of initial denials are reversed on appeal.
If you insist on going it alone, without the help of an experienced professional who will probably improve your odds of winning approval of your disability claim, the Social Security Administration wants you to know that you can do it yourself. You can apply for disability benefits online at the SSA’s website, by calling the SSA’s toll-free number at 1-800-913-3000, or by visiting your local SSA office. If you choose to apply online, you will need to create an account on the SSA’s website and complete the application process.