We can help you through the entire process, from start to finish

When you can't work because of an illness or injury, it's hard to know where to turn for help. Social Security Disability benefits provide some relief, but the application process can be confusing. This article walks you through the steps of applying for disability benefits so that you can get the financial help you need.

How to Apply for Social Security Benefits

An application for Social Security Disability benefits can be made by filling out the online form or by calling your local Social Security office and setting up a phone appointment. For Supplemental Security Income you must schedule a phone appointment with your local office. For either application, the process is lengthy and will take some time to complete.

What Information Will You Need?

Here is the kind of information you should have¹:

Information About You

  • 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.

Information About Family Members

  • Social Security numbers and proof of age for each family member who may qualify for benefits; and
  • Proof of marriage, if your spouse is applying for benefits, as well as dates of prior marriages, if applicable.

After your application and the information you provided are reviewed, the SSA will decide whether you do or do not meet the qualifications for disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration denies over 50 percent of applications upon their first submissions. If you disagree with their decision, you have the right to appeal. The Social Security Administration estimates that the average wait time for a hearing out of the Rochester Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) is 22.5 months from the date of the request for the hearing.

How an Attorney Can Help

The decision to seek help is a personal one, and it depends on your individual circumstances. However, a study by the federal Government Accountability Office found that people who are represented at disability hearings are nearly three times more likely to be successful.

A lawyer can fill out the SSD or SSI application with you and help gather medical records and other evidence for your claim. They will review your application for mistakes or omissions that could hurt your chances of success and send requests to your doctor for medical source statements to support your disability claim. Having an attorney or advocate can be especially important if you disagree with Social Security's initial decision on your claim and file an appeal.

Seeking Social Security Disability benefits can be a complicated process, but the team at Zea Proukou PLLC is here to help. We have 2 convenient locations in Rochester and in the Finger Lakes region. If you want experience and passion on your side when applying for disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), we invite you to contact us today!

  1. ssa.gov
  2. aarp.org