Applying For Social Security Disability Income
I am putting this information together in hopes that it will help aneurysm victims and their family get their entitled benefits with as little complication as possible. This is my way of trying to give back something for all of the support my wife and I have received from the support group. I have been an accountant for 20 years and have over the years prepared a few disability claims for my clients. These claims though few in number have been sucessful upon first application. I hadn't any idea I would be preparing one for my wife. I cannot guarantee your end result, only help you along the way.
To Qualify For SSDI:
If you worked 5 of the last 10 years and accumulated, what Social Security calls, 20 credits and cannot work you should be entitled to Social Security Disability Income. You must be disabled 6 months to qualify and will be disabled at least 12 months to receive benefits. If you have dependent children living at home they may receive dependent benefits too.
What are credits?
Simply put, if you have earned at least $1,700 per calendar year as an employee or self-employed and those earnings were report to the Social Security Administration by your employer or on your income tax return as a self-employed person, you should have received 4 credits for that calendar year.
Presentation and Preparation:
I can't express this enough! You will need to spend several hours when it comes time to preparing the actual Social Security forms. This is part or possibly all of your financial future you are dealing with, be patient and thorough in preparing the forms. It would be a simple process if you could meet face to face with the decision makers, but you won't meet them face to face! The only time you would meet with the decision makers, would most likely be upon the "second appeal" process! By this time many months have gone by and you would probably need to have legal counsel at this hearing, costing you money. If the forms are properly prepared and you present you answers properly and thoroughly, all that can be avoided. You can be receiving benefits in 60 to 90 days instead of 14 to 16 months and several dollars later.
Before You Contact Social Security:
Get copies of ALL medical records from the beginning, whether you started in an emergency room or with your family doctor. Get EVERY DOCUMENT, they have to give you copies of your records, it is your right by law. The victim will have to sign the request letter, state the victim's name, date of birth, social security number, dates of treatment, the doctor's name(s), etc. List specifically what reports you want, i.e. "diagnosis, clinical, operative, post operative, radiology, lab and any other reports relevant to the diagnosis and treatment of the condition." You will also want to get copies of all post operative follow visits. The more information you provide, the less hassle you will have because you are dealing with records clerks who aren't familiar with your case. If there is a processing fee, pay it. Some places charge a copying fee and some don't. Keep after it and don't get frustrated, it may take awhile to get the copies. Case in point, my wife was in 5 hospitals after her aneurysm ruptured and they discovered a second one. It took 3 months to get the records from one of the hospitals' but I knew we had to have them. If you don't get the records in 2 weeks time, call them and keep calling every couple of weeks. BE CALM AND POLITE to the records clerks no matter how frustrated you are, to act otherwise could cause you additional problems!
Keep the records separate by institution and/or doctor, get to a copy machine and make copies. I would suggest several copies of each.
Contacting Social Security:
Anyone can assist the victim with the application process, that is the victim's right! They may want authorization from the victim, this is the person they want helping them. Usually, a verbal confirmation is all that is required.
ALWAYS CALM AND POLITE, tell SSA who you are, that you are helping (name), social security number, "in applying for social security disability." The representative will ask a few simple questions and will probably set up a time for an interview. It may be possible to do the interview by telephone. During the interview, ALWAYS BEING CALM AND POLITE, have all the information at hand including the victim. You will need to know everything possible about the victim's employment and benefits i.e. wages, sick leave, etc. Chances are you already know this information. The interview is easy, nothing to be uptight about! After the interview you will receive some paperwork to fill out, this is where the work begins, patience and thoroughness are a must!
Disability Report-Adult-Form SSA-3368-BK:
There are 2 very important forms to fill out, this is the first. The representative you dealt with will forward this form on to a Disability Examiner when you return it to SSA. Presentation and Preparation are everything, that's the whole ball game. By that I mean, answer every question honestly, thoroughly and neatly. There are questions like, "What are the illnesses, injuries or conditions that limit your ability to work?" and "How do your illnesses, injuries or conditions limit your ability to work?" You cannot answer these questions on the two or three lines provided and give a thorough answer. Indicate on the lines after the question "See Attached Narrative" and on a sheet of paper (typed is good) list the section, question number, state the question and give your narrative answer. A thorough narrative answer, even if it takes more than one page and be detailed. There aren't that many questions you need to do this for. When you are done, make copies of your answers you may need to submit the narrative answer with another form, this will save you time in having to do it over again and you maintain consistent answers.
This form requests information on hospitals and doctors. Give complete names, addresses, phone numbers, what ever is needed. Again if there isn't enough space use a separate sheet of paper following the format above.
This is where your diligent effort in collecting all the medical records comes into play! You will send copies of those records with this form. If you don't the disability examiner will have to request all the records from the institution or doctor and that can take alot of time and delay.
Daily Activities and Symptoms Report:
This is the second form you will have to fill out and will come from the disability examiner. The examiner will probably be from a different branch and may be in a different city. You may feel that some of the questions on this form are stupid and/or invasive! Put your feelings aside, this is just part of the game, you have to answer the questions remembering ALWAYS BEING CALM AND POLITE! Also remembering, this is the victim's financial well being future you are representing!
Answer the questions thoroughly, you probably won't need to do the additional sheet of paper answers. However, if you need to use a sheet of paper use the format I mentioned earlier, section (if applicable) question number, state the question and give your answer.
This form will ask for 3 persons who know you and you authorize to give information about how your condition(s) effects you. It would be best to list 3 good friends instead of family members because they are unrelated independent sources of information. Tell these people you have listed them, so they aren't surprised if they receive a call or letter. This doesn't mean that they will be contacted, only maybe.
When you receive this form it will probably identify the disability examiner assigned to your case. Call the examiner and ask if there is any additional information he/she would like. This may be where additional copies of your earlier narrative answers may come in handy by sending them along with this form. In particular the answers to the 2 questions I identified earlier. AGAIN, ALWAYS BEING CALM AND POLITE, no matter how stressed, tired, frustrated or irritated you may be. To act otherwise will only hurt you!
If you are reading this, then you have been down a very difficult road already! Applying for and getting social security disability benefits are just a small bump on that road, you have gotten past the big bumps. You are dealing with a huge impersonal bureaucracy through their employees, who are human beings like you and me, that have to follow massive complicated regulation manuals. Be kind to them, help them want to help you.
If you have specific questions or need clarity on something feel free to email me at email@example.com, I will get back to you as soon as I can.
Good Luck, you can do this successfully!
Richard & Gail Stokes
Discussion, comments, or questions: Richard Stokes.