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How you can get started applying for Social Security Disability benefits

If you or your loved one has a disability that prevents you or them from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits offered by the Social Security Administration. The SSA offers disability benefits for primary patients, their spouses (including former spouses) and widowers. These benefits come in two forms.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits for families who have paid a certain amount over years of work in Social Security taxes. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is another benefit based on financial need.

The SSA's definition of a disability is different that than that of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The SSA's criteria for disability includes, but is not limited to, inability to work the same way as before a medical condition, inability to adjust to work due to a medical condition, and a condition that lasts, or is expected to last, for more than one year or lead to death.

This webpage by the Social Security Administration has a checklist that outlines what they may consider a disability when looking at an application for disability benefits.

The SSA allows you to fill out a disability report online to start the process. Here are a few documents you may need to increase the chances of your application being accepted.

  • Medical records relevant to a medical condition that stops you from working. The SSA has an extensive list of impairments that may qualify for disability.
  • Addresses and contact information.
  • Identifying documents with names and dates of marriage, births and divorces, or deaths if applicable.
  • Financial information. The SSA will consider your income when making a decision.
  • Records of worker's compensation, settlements and proof of any payments received based on a disability.

If you believe your application and Social Security benefits have been unfairly denied, you have the right to appeal the decision and receive benefits you are entitled to. Updated documents that show new circumstances since you applied may help your case along.

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