The process of applying for disability can seem daunting and a little overwhelming. Applying for disability is so important to you and to your family that the stress of making sure you’re doing everything correctly can be enormous. However, if you take the process one step at a time, you’ll be less stressed and will have a better chance of the application process going smoothly and successfully.
One of the most important steps, and the first one you should take, is gathering all of the documents and paperwork that you’ll need. The Social Security Administration requires several documents in order to process your application and you should have them collected and organized into one file before you begin your application. This will help ensure that there are no unwanted delays because of missing paperwork.
The documentation the Social Security Administration requires basically falls into three categories: proof of your identity and eligibility, proof of your employment, income and loss of income, and proof of your disability. Go through this list and collect the necessary paperwork, one category at a time, and you’ll be well-prepared for filing your disability claim.
Proof of Your Identity and Eligibility
Disability is only available to US citizens and legal aliens, so you’ll need to provide proof that you are eligible. The Social Security office requires that you provide your birth certificate or other proof of birth and your social security card.
If you were not born in the US, you’ll need to provide proof of your status as a legal alien.
Also, if you served in the military prior to 1968, you’ll need to provide your discharge papers.
The SSA does require that you show them original documents for all of these. They’ll copy them and return the originals to you right away.
Proof of Your Employment, Income and Loss of Income
Because disability is intended as at least a partial replacement of your income, you’ll need to provide proof of your employment and earnings. You can provide either originals or copies of the following:
Proof of Your Disability
There’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to documenting your disability. Even if something looks fairly unimportant, it would be better to have more information than you need, as opposed to having your claim delayed because you need to collect missing paperwork.
You’ll need to include:
Any medical records, doctor’s notes, x-rays and lab test results related to your condition. Include documentation from all of the doctors who have diagnosed or treated you, not just your primary care physician.
The Social Security office also requires that you fill out an Adult Disability Report. This report collects more detailed information about your condition. You can fill the report out online here.
It’s a good idea to make copies of everything you’re collecting for your application. This way, you have duplicates on hand at home should you need them.
By collecting all of the required documentation beforehand, you’ll not only reduce the stress of beginning your application process, you’ll also help to decrease the chances that your application will be delayed or denied. Your disability is stressful enough; being prepared will make the process of applying for benefits less stressful for you.