Tips for Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits

From high school, to working for minimum wage, Adam knew he had made a mistake not going to college. But, working hard in construction, he went from being a day-laborer, to a top-helper, to a top journeyman. Adam climbed the ladder, and in ten years. was supervising jobs, and making as much money as some of college graduates.The work was hard, and he was away from home for long periods of time, but the money was good, and he hoped to one day to go to college. He wanted to learn the business side, but for now, he was happy just being the supervisor.

Adam, married with two children, had his future planned out. Along with his retirement pension, he had a 401(k) plan, and, for every dollar he contributed, his employer matched it. Everything seemed to be on schedule. With a great family, money in the bank and good insurance from his job, Adam could not have been happier. It took only a moment for his dreams to crash. While working in his yard, cutting some limbs from an overgrown tree, the ladder he was standing on, moved, and he fell awkwardly to the ground below. Adam’s career was over.

The diagnosis was bad. He had a herniated disc in his back that was permanent. He would always have a bad back and shoulder. He was in agony, just moving around the house. The accident was not job-related, and Adam was in serious trouble. While his insurance paid 80 percent of his hospital bill, and medications, he still had no income coming in. The medical bills were piling up.

Adam was told by doctors he would never work again. They suggested he apply for Social Security Disability Benefits. He called the local Social Security office, as soon as the doctors agreed he was eligible for disability payments. The stories he had heard, about the difficulty of signing up for benefits, were not true. He was pleasantly surprised, when he found the representatives were informative, and nice. He was told to get his records in order, such as his work history, marriage license, and any other relevant documents. He quickly wrote down the items he would need to file:

 His work history (what types of jobs that he had prior to becoming disabled).The names, addresses, phone numbers, and treatment dates of all the physicians, clinics, and hospitals that had treated him since being hurt.

His personal information, such as his marriage, any divorces, and children (minors or adult disabled children).

In addition, he needed to make a list of all his resources (bank accounts, life insurance policies, land, trust funds, stocks, bonds, IRA’s, 401Ks, or cash) and income (wages, short term disability or long term disability benefits, veterans benefits, or any other source of income), in order to assess the amount of benefits he would receive, if approved.

Adam did  90% of the work on the telephone. When the representative told him he could do the rest over the Internet, he was ecstatic. With high gas prices, this saved money on travel. He had  a computer, and it was easy to type in the Internet address of the local Social Security Office. They have a step-by-step process, that is so simple, anyone with basic computer skills can easily navigate the site. Adam did most of the work, without leaving his kitchen table.

In most cases, it takes between a year, and two years, to receive your benefits. Most applicants, unless in a dire situation, are turned down the first time they apply, and need to re-apply. In some cases, a lawyer is needed, and may speed up the process, although they charge between one-fourth and one-third of your settlement, depending on the law firm. Adam was granted his disability on his second try, but some may wait longer, and may have to go in front of a Judge, or arbitrator. As in everything, It can sometimes be be frustrating, but Adam hung in there, and is now receiving his benefits every month.