How To Apply
There are three ways to apply: go into your local field office; call 1-800-772-1213 and ask for an appointment to apply; go online to https://secure.ssa.gov/iCLM/dib.
By far, the most comfortable way to apply is on the Internet because you can save your application and come back to it when it's a better time and you are more rested. In every case you'll need to mail or take in your birth certificate and government-issued photo ID to your local office. Send these by certified, return-receipt mail, and make a copy of them before you mail them.
Social Security runs two disability programs: SSDI (Social Security Insured Disability, or just "insured disability"), and SSI (Supplemental Security Income).
SSI is a needs-based program -welfare-so you'll need to meet not just the medical requirements for disability, but also the financial. It is possible for an individual to meet the requirements of both programs at the same or different times. With SSI comes Medicaid, where one's medical expenses are paid in full.
If you have a steady work history you more than likely will fall under the insured program. SSA divides the year into "quarters" and require a specific number of "quarter credits" in order to be fully insured. This terminology is somewhat confusing because credits are not equal to portions of the calendar year; instead, they equal a moving dollar amount-usually increasing every year. So, because most workers increase their incomes with raises or jumps between companies, and at a rate faster than the credits increase, they usually earn more credits than the total number of quarters they have worked. That means that one can stop working for 2 to 3 years and still be insured. But, it also means that if one delays applying, they move farther and farther away from being insured. And harder and harder to prove disability because doctors retire, move, and die. Without the records from a treating physician, you are at the mercy of SSA's doctors-which means you will probably lose your bid for disability.
SSDI comes with Medicare-24 months after one is found to be disabled. But it is also retroactive to the time you start receiving benefits, so if it takes 29 months to get benefits, then you'll start getting medical help with the percentages prescribed by Medicare's rules.
With both applications you'll need to answer what, where, when, and who questions about your medical problems, treatment, and work history. The most important question you'll need to answer is "What is it that keeps you from working?" To answer that question you should look to the symptoms listed under the disorder you have in the Residual Functional Capacity assessment forms in this book.