SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME pays benefits based on financial need.

Here are 5 ways to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Some of the common methods are filing by mail, by phone, in person at a local office and via the internet. If possible, I recommend that people file in person. Here are 5 key tips I give someone prior to filing a Social Security application in person.

1. Call and make an appointment

Social Security will rarely, if ever, allow you to meet with a representative and complete the application the day you walk in the social security office. It is far better to call ahead and make an appointment and meet with a representative from social security. Otherwise, you’ll end up waiting in line, only to be told to come back at a later date.

2. Make a list of all your providers

You want to put together a list of all your providers including name, address, phone numbers and any other contact information. You want to make it as easy as possible for the disability determination services unit to go and acquire the records that allow you to make your case that you are entitled to disability benefits. Many times, these representatives are overworked. Any way you can make it easier for them to find the evidence that will help get a favorable decision, it’s worth spending the extra time.

3. Tell them about all your impairments/illnesses!

Many times, folks only tell the Social Security representatives about the major issues. They don’t let them know about what the claimant thinks are minor uses, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and other minor aches and pains. It’s important to let social security know about all your illnesses and injuries, big or small. Very rarely does Social Security make a decision based solely on one condition. It is usually the combination of all your impairments that makes you unable to achieve “substantial, gainful employment” and entitle you to disability benefits. DON’T SELF SELECT WHAT ILLNESSES ARE IMPORTANT!

4. Don’t exaggerate injuries/illnesses

It’s important to report all of your conditions, but do not embellish the details. Many of the representatives who will be helping you complete the application have been doing this for many years. They have learned to spot when someone is exaggerating and not being credible regarding the severity of their injury/impairment. It is important that you articulate what is bothering you and how you are limited, don’t exaggerate.

I had one Social Security representative tell me about an individual who came into his office and claimed that he was in bed all day, every day, and only left his house once a month. The Social Security representative did some additional questioning regarding shopping habits and it became clear that the individual went out much more frequently than once a month. DO NOT EXAGGERATE

5. Fill out the paperwork!

After you do your initial application, you will likely get some additional forms requesting that you provide them with additional information or asking for clarification on an issue. Please, fill these forms out on a timely basis. Many claims are denied on account of Social Security not having all of the information that they requested and/or enough information to evaluate your claim. Don’t allow your claim to be denied because you failed to complete all the paperwork that was required.

I hope these tips for completing your Social Security application will help your claim for Social Security benefits. If you have any questions or would like an experienced NH Disability lawyer working on your behalf, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

-John Ward


4 replies
  1. Tobias Armstrong
    Tobias Armstrong says:

    I think it’s interesting that you need to report all of your impairments, even if it’s something as simple as cholesterol. I think the flipside is also interesting, that you shouldn’t exaggerate at all. It seems like the best overall policy is to be straightforward and honest with the social security rep about everything. If you do that, there doesn’t seem like there would be a lot of issues. I appreciated all the advice though. Thanks for sharing! http://www.timhudsonlaw.com/practice-areas/

  2. Marie Watson
    Marie Watson says:

    Thanks for explaining some of the different ways you can apply for social security disability. You make a great point about how it is important to make sure you are being completely honest about your illness/injuries. I also like that you mention making sure you fill out all of your paperwork. It seems like it could be helpful to hire a lawyer who can make sure you are filling out all of the proper paperwork to process your claim. http://www.sdltdattorneys.com/Private_Disability_Claims_San_Diego_CA.html


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