Social Security pays benefits to people who are unable to work due to a disability. Disability is defined as a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death.
If a person becomes disabled, it is helpful to apply for benefits as soon as possible. Social Security states that processing an application for benefits can take between three and five months.
Applicants will need to provide their name, social security number, a birth certificate, medical records and work summary, among other information. In addition, the applicant will need to complete a form about his or her medical condition and the effect it has on their ability to work.
Social Security will review the application to ensure the applicant meets basic requirements for the benefits, will check the applicant’s work history to determine if he or she worked enough years to qualify and will review any current work the applicant is performing.
The case is forwarded to the state Disability Determination Services office for a determination. They collect medical evidence from the applicant’s healthcare providers about his or her condition, including the treatment he or she received for the disability. If the medical providers are not able to offer sufficient information, the state office may ask the applicant to have an additional medical exam.
In determining benefits, the state may consider the age, education, past work experience and skills the applicant may have to do any other type of work.
The applicant will receive a letter showing either the amount of the disability benefit and when the payments will begin or if the application is not approved, the letter will explain the reasons why and how to submit an appeal.
An experienced attorney can help applicants with their questions about disability benefits.