Social Security Disability Tips

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Contacting & Locating The Social Security Office

To begin your application for or to ask questions about Social Security Disability, you may call your local Social Security office, or call the national toll-free number 1-800-772-1213.

To find your local Social Security office telephone number in the telephone book, look under "U.S. Government Offices", usually in a blue section in the front of your "Yellow Pages" telephone book. Where I live, it is in a section called "Government Listings", right before all of the "City Of ___" and "State Of ___" listings. The name is officially "Social Security Administration".

The website address (also called a URL) is at:

For general information and services, the Social Security office is open from 7:00 am until 7 pm.

You may also listen to pre-recorded information 24 hours a day, which many times will answer general questions when you call the nationwide toll-free number.

The TTY number to call is 1-800-325-0778.

Information is available in Spanish as well as English.


How Can You Survive If You Can't Work?

Although you may wonder how you'll make it: paying for your home, utilities, food, and even your sanity, you must trust that there are ways. Sometimes the stress alone of being in so much pain could make you not want to get out of bed and sink into a depression. Your inability to be a useful part of your family and community may, at times, overcome you with feelings of inadequacy, you have to push on.

Trust in your Higher Power, talk to people who really do care about you, a family member, real friends, a counselor, or a minister. You can survive, and with help, you can still be somewhat happy.

Check at your local United Way office. They can give you valuable resources to contact that will provide links to where you can get free or low cost food, & help with your bills.

Contact the Department of Human Services (or welfare), though you might cringe at the thought, they may provide you with medical and food resources.

If you cannot continue to work, that is the test. If you CAN work, then that will be your challenge with Social Security Disability, and they will expect you to find any way you can to support yourself and earn money. If you can earn money, it might hurt your chances of being approved for SSD benefits.

But, if in fact you truly cannot work, or are advised by your doctor NOT to work, because working will worsen your condition, then you have no recourse but to contact these resources that are there to assist you in circumstances such as this; and then you can pursue the disability benefits that are entitled to you.


Apply For Social Security Disability Without An Attorney

The process of applying for disability benefits has become much easier due to expert organization at the Department of Social Security. Whether you use the telephone, the website, or visit your local Social Security office, you will find everything you are looking for easily, due to a thorough, posted listing of departments and topics.
First and foremost, remember that patience is a virtue. There are many individuals who frequent the Social Security office for applications for lost Social Security cards, retirement benefits and due to one's inability to work. When contacting them, have your Social Security number and notebook handy, and write down who helped you and what date and time you called or visited. The application is very long and can be picked up at their local office, or sent to you in the mail.
It is much easier to take it home to complete it and take it back to turn it in, if you can get the time. Once completed, make a copy of all pages for your own records. Regarding your doctor's bills and letters: keep the originals and mail the copies, or vice versa ONLY IF they absolutely require originals.. You will need them again.
It is possible to obtain any x-rays you may have had done just for the asking, as it was you or your insurance company that paid for them. Most times, you will have to physically visit the office to sign a release form to get them. The doctor or hospital keeps a copy of the x-ray report in your record. Simply follow instructions on the Social Security application while filling it out, step by step, and be sure to double-check that you did not miss anything. One missed answer can add on processing time. Allow at least eight to twelve weeks for them to receive your application, to review it, anf for them to get a letter regarding your status back out to you, unless your local office tells you it will be longer. Follow up with the person you submitted it to if you haven't heard anything after the suggested amount of waiting time. Be aware; the process has taken two to three years for many applicants. If there are any major changes to your health in the meantime, notify your Social Security office regarding the changes. Any errors could cost you many months of added waiting time.


What You Need To Take When You Apply For Disability At The Social Security Office

When you go to the Social Security office to apply for disability, remember to have everything with you that you think you MIGHT need to have. You can shorten the process time by having certain information with you when you apply, such as:

All of the months and years that you worked for the past 15 years, from the start date to the date you left, and why & a description of what you did;

Names, addresses and phone numbers, and visitation dates of the doctors, counselors, caseworkers, hospitals, labs for testing, and clinics that you have visited in relation to your reason for disability,

Names, dosage, and side affects, if applicable, of all your medications;

Copies of any medical records form your doctors, therapists, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that you already have in your possession;

Copies of any laboratory and test results that you already have in your possession. If you do not have them, arrange to get them before you visit the Social Security office. You will not need actual x-rays, only the reports from once they had been read.


A Better Shot at an Appeal

Upon a little local investigation, I found that quite a few people were approved for Social Security Disability when they applied for an appeal, based on their psychological state rather than their physical limitations. Once you have gone for so long without being able to contribute to the household expenses and housework, your view of yourself you’re your mental state could be changing, feeling that you may have become a burden those around you. Be sure to explain all of these feelings, IN DETAIL, on your application for an appeal. Start saving counseling appointment receipts, diagnosis explanations from your doctors, and print-outs from the pharmacy listing new medicines you may be prescribed with dosage directions.


Appealing Your Decision If You Application For Disability Was Rejected

Many times, the first application made for Social Security Disability benefits is rejected, and sometimes even the first appeal. To be turned down can be stressful, especially because you may have waited over a year for an answer, but don't give up. Keep in mind that you applied for disability to begin with, because you were unable to work. So right from the beginning, I suggest that you almost EXPECT to be turned down and then plan on appealing.

Reconsider upon this opportunity, if you must:

1) Is it worth possibly going another entire year or more with no income to speak of, maybe depending on a family member or friend for all of your living expenses and daily needs?
2) Are you TRULY physically or mentally completely unable to work?

If the answer is still no, you might want to consider merging your mental state into your Disability appeal. Due to the changes you have had to go through during the past months, waiting so long for an answer to your request for payment, having to depend on others to survive, and then your inability to function like others do on top of it….your mental state has probably suffered. You need to note this and follow up on it with doctor visits & counseling and remember to document everything.

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Sherril Steele-Carlin