Q: Should I file my own Social Security disability benefits application?
Just as most people hire an electrician or plumber rather than attempting those dangerous jobs without the proper training, many people seek help from a skilled Arizona disability benefits attorney when filing for benefits—because being approved is of critical importance.
But unlike plumbers and electricians who are paid on the spot, Disability Attorneys of Arizona doesn’t collect a fee unless your application is approved. And even then, the fee structure is reasonable and regulated by the Social Security Administration.
A quick internet search on how to file for disability benefits reveals three options that make it look deceptively simple:
- applying online,
- applying by phone, and
- applying in person at your local Social Security office.
The reality is that the process of applying for social security benefits is lengthy and complex with many pitfalls for those trying to navigate the system alone. It is also the likely reason that approximately 2/3 of all initial Social Security disability benefits applications are denied.
What happens when an initial application is denied?
If an initial application is denied, there are steps to appeal the denial of disability benefits. Seeking an attorney’s input at this point, if not initially, is highly recommended because you have now cost yourself additional time – time you’re not getting paid for while you might be in pain and struggling financially.
Regardless of whether you file on your own or with the help of a skilled attorney, you need to determine which of the two federal disability benefits programs you are going to apply for and whether you qualify for disability benefits. For example, Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) requires applicants to have worked for the requisite number of years and hours (work credits) prior to becoming disabled and have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. You need to be suffering from a qualifying mental or physical disability expected to last a year or longer or result in death. In addition, Social Security will consider whether the disabling medical condition precludes an applicant from adjusting to other forms of work.
The second federal program, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), is not based on work credits but rather on a qualifying disability accompanied by extremely limited income and assets.
According to the Social Security Administration, the information and documentation needed when applying for disability benefits includes the following:
- “your Social Security number and proof of your age;
- names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you and the dates of your visits;
- names and dosages of all the medications you are taking;
- medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers, that you already have in your possession;
- laboratory and test results;
- a summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did; and
- your most recent W-2 form or, if you were self-employed, a copy of your federal tax return.”
While it isn’t guaranteed, the likelihood of a successful initial disability benefits application is significantly increased when handled by an experienced disability benefits attorney who is knowledgeable in submitting complete and strong applications.
Contact Our Phoenix Disability Benefits Attorney
If you need help with a Social Security disability benefits application or need assistance with an appeal of a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.
From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, we represent disabled clients and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law.