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How to Get Approved for Disability the First Time

Last updated: April 12, 2023

SSDI or Social Security Disability Insurance applications can be challenging. The SSDI application process and the necessary medical documentation can be as confusing as reading a foreign language. Now that you cannot work because of your disability, you are worried about how you will support yourself and your family and wondering how to get approved for disability the first time. To make the application process easier, we've compiled a list of the top seven things you should know before applying for SSDI disability benefits.

Tips For First-Time SSD Benefits Applicants

  1. Upon becoming disabled, you are eligible to apply for disability benefits. There is a common misconception that Social Security benefits need to be applied for 12 months after the date of disability begins. Nevertheless, you are eligible to apply for disability benefits at the time of your disability if you meet all other eligibility requirements as well as application requirements. Disability insurance (DI) benefits are only paid for disabilities expected to last longer than 12 months (base period). which leads to confusion. Upon losing the ability to engage in substantial gainful activity, you can apply as long as your medical documentation and doctors records support your case.
  2. Medical records must document your disability. Applicants must provide proof of disability to qualify for benefits. SSA has very specific criteria for determining which injuries or illnesses qualify as disabilities and the kind of medical documentation that needs to be provided to substantiate each disabling condition.
  3. The number of quarters you worked must be sufficient to qualify for disability benefits. Social Security taxes are used to fund Social Security benefits, so applicants must have worked a specific number of quarters throughout a specified time period before they can receive disability benefits. Furthermore, disabled workers must meet the disability requirements. It depends upon the applicant's age at the time they became disabled, the time frame in which they had worked before becoming disabled, and how many quarters they must have worked to be eligible for benefits.
  4. Income and resource limits are not applied. Applicants for SSDI are only eligible if they have worked enough quarters and have a disability. Income and resource limits are not considered; they apply only to those receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  5. The chances of your application being denied are high. According to recent estimates, SSD benefits are denied to 64% of applicants during the initial review. 74% of all applications approved by hearing officers are appealed after the initial application. So if your application is denied, there is a chance that your appeal will be granted after your appeals process.
  6. You will have a better chance of getting approved if you prepare in advance. To receive social security disability benefits, SSDI applicants are not required to meet with disability examiners (the individuals who evaluate your claim on the basis of your medical records). When deciding whether to approve your application, the disability examiner will only have your information to consider.
    You should be prepared before submitting your disability application to increase the chances of it being approved at the initial review. This includes capturing all the information regarding your medical conditions pertaining to your disability, including dates of the doctor visits by the disability claimant, providers, medical examinations or procedures, and tests, as well as the impact your disability has on your activities of daily living (ADL) and performance at work. To determine if you qualify for SSDI benefits, you should also provide a detailed account of your work history for the past 15 years.
  7. You can hire a disability lawyer if you need assistance during any part of the process. To apply for SSDI benefits or to appeal your benefits, you are not required to hire legal representation in the form of disability attorneys. However, if you hire an experienced SSDI lawyer, you will have much better chances of approval during the appeal process and getting an expedited review. You can substantiate your SSDI claim using a disability attorney specializing solely in SSDI claims.

You do not pay anything until your SSDI claim is approved, which is why most SSDI attorneys work on a contingency basis. An SSDI attorney can only recover up to $6,000 of retroactive benefits if the SSA limits the amount they can recover.

Applying for Social Security's benefits can be an overwhelming process. If you are interested in seeking SSDI benefits, check out our article on how to check the status of a pending Social Security Disability claim. To learn more, visit DisabilityHelp.org today!

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Cheri Hermanson
Cheri leads our team of writers in producing the best quality content there is regarding society and disability, most especially those that helps ease the quality of life for our differently-abled loved ones.
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