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What To Do If There Is A Change In Circumstances During The SSDI Application Process

Last updated: November 12, 2023

This article offers an in-depth guide to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application process. It covers eligibility, documentation, and how changing circumstances can impact applications. 

It also elucidates the rules for reporting changes and how to handle denials or suspensions. The SSDI application can be complex and time-consuming, requiring substantial proof of disability. Understanding this process can enhance applicants' chances of approval and ease navigation through the procedure.

Overview of the SSDI application process

The SSDI application process begins with eligibility verification, based on U.S. citizenship and sufficient work credits, which vary depending on the age at disability onset. Applicants can then submit the SSDI form online, by phone, or in-person, providing work history, medical conditions, and treatments. 

Applications are then evaluated for completeness and authenticity of disability claim. Most applications get denied due to insufficient medical evidence or incomplete information. Denied applicants can appeal, potentially involving review by an administrative judge or federal court.

Eligibility Criteria for SSDI

To be eligible for SSDI, one must be a U.S citizen or a lawful alien with a valid work permit. The applicant must have a qualifying disability under the SSA's definition. According to SSA, a disability is defined as a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death, and prevents the individual from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA).

Age also plays a significant role in determining eligibility for SSDI. Typically, the older one is at the time they become disabled, the fewer work credits they require to qualify for SSDI. However, most adults need at least 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years, to be considered eligible.

Documentation Required for the SSDI Application

For a successful SSDI application, one needs to provide substantial documentation. This includes personal identification documents such as birth certificate or passport, Social Security card, proof of U.S citizenship or lawful alien status, W-2 forms or federal tax returns, medical evidence like doctors' reports and lab results, information about all the medications and treatments, and a detailed work history.

The SSDI application process can feel overwhelming due to its complexity. However, with a clear understanding of the process and the steps involved, applicants can increase their chances of approval and secure the benefits they need to support their livelihood.

Potential Changes in Circumstances During SSDI Application Process

Throughout the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), applicants may encounter various developments that could change their circumstances significantly. These changes can either positively or negatively impact the outcome of their application. 

Some of the most common changes include alterations in diagnosis or the severity of a condition, variations in financial status, personal modifications such as marital status and dependents, and the commencement or termination of other benefits.

Change in Diagnosis or Severity of Condition

Diagnosis is the cornerstone of any SSDI application. A change in the diagnosis could potentially alter the course of the application entirely. It can happen that an initial condition improves but a secondary condition worsens drastically, leading to greater incapacity than at the time of the original application. 

In addition, a diagnostic error could be discovered after the application process has begun, which might mandate a reevaluation of the disability claim. Likewise, the severity of the condition before and after the application is submitted might differ. 

For instance, a medical condition may have seemed mild at first but has since progressed to a more debilitating state. Contrarily, treatment might have led to the improvement of the condition, thus reducing the applicant's level of disability. Understanding that health statuses are dynamic and can vary with time, the SSDI incorporates mechanisms to account for changes in the applicant's health condition during the application process.

Change in Financial Status

The financial status of an applicant plays a crucial role in the evaluation process for SSDI benefits. For instance, if an applicant's earnings exceed a certain threshold, they may not be considered as 'disabled' under the rules of the Social Security Administration (SSA), regardless of the severity of their condition. On the other hand, an applicant might lose their job during the application process, thereby diminishing their income significantly. This shift in financial status could tilt the scale in their favor as the SSA assesses their eligibility for disability benefits based on financial need as well.

Change in Personal Information ( Marital Status, Dependents, etc.)

Personal life events, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, can also significantly affect an SSDI application. For instance, the addition of a dependent might increase the amount of SSDI benefits an applicant is eligible to receive. Conversely, a change in marital status might affect an individual's benefit calculation if their spouse is already receiving Social Security benefits.

Beginning or Ending of Other Benefits

An applicant's eligibility and the amount of SSDI benefits they can receive might also be influenced by their receipt of other government benefits, such as workers' compensation or public disability benefits. If an applicant starts or stops receiving these other benefits during the SSDI application process, they are required to notify the SSA, as it could alter their SSDI benefits. Similarly, changes in veterans' benefits, pensions, or other income sources could influence the outcome of the SSDI application process.

Procedures for Reporting Changes in Circumstances

Often, there may be changes in your personal, professional or financial circumstances that need to be reported to certain authorities or organisations. These changes can include job changes, residence shifts, marital status alterations, or financial changes. The procedures for such reporting can vary depending upon the nature of change, the organization to which the change needs to be reported, and the protocol they follow. It is crucial to be transparent and diligent about these procedures in order to ensure compliance and maintain orderly records.

When to Report Changes

The timeline for reporting changes depends on the specific requirement of each organization. In some cases, changes have to be reported immediately, as soon as they occur. For instance, changes related to your residential address or personal details have to be reported to the local authorities immediately to avoid any confusion or discrepancy.

There are certain circumstances where you may be given a certain timeframe to report the change. For example, in case of insurance companies or banks, you may be given 30 days time from the date of change occurrence to update the information. In the case of your income tax filing, you should report any sanguine changes in your financial status during your annual tax filing cycle.

How to Report Changes

There are different modes you can utilize to report changes, mainly depending upon the policies of the relevant organization. The first and the most common method is through the online portals of the respective organizations. These portals often have a section dedicated for updating personal or relevant information and can usually be updated easily and swiftly.

Another mode is via direct communication. This could be through phone calls, email communication or physical visits to the local office of the organization. This mode is often recommended when the change is significant or complicated, requiring detailed explanation and verification.

Lastly, changes can also be reported through postal mail. Though this method is less common due to the proliferation of digital modes, it may be utilized in circumstances where online access is limited or written documentation is required.

Documentation Needed to Report Changes

The type of documentation required depends on the nature and magnitude of the change. For simple changes such as an address update, valid proof of the new address such as a utility bill, lease agreement, or a bank statement might suffice.

Changes relating to your personal circumstances like marital status, birth or death in the family, or name changes could require vital records such as marriage certificate, birth or death certificate, or legal name change documents respectively.

For changes in employment situations or financial circumstances, you might need to provide salary slips, job offer letters, bank statements, investment proofs or financial reports.

It is important to note that all documentation provided should be valid, accurate and up-to-date, as it is necessary to maintain the credibility of the information and to avoid any legal consequences. Reporting changes requires responsibility and integrity; any discrepancies detected may lead to penal actions or may affect future dealings.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What adjustments should be made if employment status changes during the SSDI application process?

Notifying the Social Security Administration (SSA) about the change in employment status is vital. The change can affect the eligibility and the amount of SSDI benefits allocated (Social Security Administration, n.d.).

2. Is it necessary to report a change in marital status during the SSDI application process?

Yes, marital status changes can impact eligibility for SSDI and might even alter the amount of benefits. Therefore, SSA should immediately be informed about any marital status change (Social Security Administration, n.d.).

3. What is the protocol if there has been a change in disability status during the SSDI application process?

Applicants should promptly report any changes in disability status to the SSA. A significant improvement in health or return to work could impact the qualification for benefits (Social Security Administration, n.d.).


In conclusion, managing changes during the SSDI application process is essential. Promptly report any alterations in health, financial status, or personal information to the SSA. Staying proactive and transparent can ensure your application's integrity and contribute to a smoother process towards receiving your rightful benefits.

Read more about how age affects your SSDI application from our resources at Disability Help.

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Victor Traylor
An expert to the field of Social Justice, Victor formed Disability Help to connect ideas and expertise from the US with rising global cultural leadership, building networks, fostering collaboration, long-term results, mutual benefit, and more extensive international perception.
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