The process to apply for Social Security Disability can seem daunting. It is ironic that a program designed to help the poor and destitute has become so complex. Before you begin, it is important to recognize that there are two types of Social Security Disability claims: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSI is a program for those who fall below certain income and asset limits. SSDI is a program for those who have paid enough "work credits" into the Social Security system. Regardless, I usually recommend that people apply for both. This post will identify the most basic forms that need to be filed for both cases.
- SSI application: The government does not allow you to file this form online. Instead, a paper application must be filled out and turned in to the Social Security office. The form's official name is SSA-8001-BK. This form is very difficult to find and even the government's own website does not make it available. The best way to get an updated form is by going to the local office and asking for the most current version. This document will primarily deal with questions regarding financial eligibility and your personal identification information.
- SSDI application: Unlike an SSI application, the government prefers that you filed this application online. However, you may file a paper version of this application by filling out a lengthy form. The official name for this form is SSA-16-BK. As a word of caution, if you file a paper application, it is much more likely that your case will get stuck in red tape. In fact, the government dislikes paper applications so much that they do not even provide a copy of it on their own website. This application primarily deals with your personal identification information as well as some questions that relate to your work history.
- Disability Report: For any type of social security claim (SSI or SSDI), a "Disability Report" must be filled out. This form deals primarily with questions regarding your medical condition. It will also try to pin down the day you became disabled and identify the places you have received treatment. The official name for this form is SSA-3368-BK.
- Form SSA 827: This form is called the "Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (SSA)." As the name suggests, this form allows the SSA to gather records, such as medical or tax records, so that they can evaluate your case.
- Attorney Forms: If you hire an attorney, you also need to fill out a form that will designate your attorney as your representative. The official name for this form is SSA-1696-U4. The government also likes a copy of any contract you have signed with the attorney.
It is possible for anyone to fill out these forms and go through the Social Security process by themselves, but there are benefits to having a Social Security Disability attorney on your side. Many of the questions are confusing and even misleading. Also, the way you answer some of the questions can have huge consequences that may end up costing you thousands of dollars. For example, one of my clients made mistakes on his application that ultimately cost him just over $24,000.
The bottom line is, although you can technically apply for a Social Security disability case in San Antonio by yourself, hiring an attorney from the very beginning will bring you peace of mind. You will be able to rest assured that the appropriate forms are filled out in the appropriate manner to maximize your chances of obtaining a favorable decision.
If you have any concerns, feel free to contact The Packard Law Firm to answer any questions you may have.