Disability is something most people don’t like to think about. But if you’re not able to work because you have a disabling condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death, then it’s a subject you may not be able to avoid.
You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. It may take you months to obtain all your medical records and for us to process an application for disability benefits.
The types of information we need include:
• medical records or documentation you have; we can make copies of your records and return your originals;
• the names, addresses, and phone numbers for any doctors, hospitals, medical facilities, treatment centers, or providers that may have information related to your disabling condition;
• the names, addresses, and phone numbers for recent employers and the dates worked for each employer; and
• your federal tax return for the past year.
If you don’t have all of the information handy, that’s no reason to delay. You should still apply for benefits right away. Social Security can assist you in getting the necessary documents, including obtaining your medical records. Just keep in mind that if you do have the information we need, it will probably speed up the time it takes to make a decision.
The fastest and most convenient way to apply for disability is online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability. You can save your application as you go, so you can take a break at any time.
If you prefer, you may call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213, to make an appointment to apply at your local Social Security office or to set up an appointment for someone to take your application over the phone.
If you are approved for disability benefits, that doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to work again. In fact, Social Security has special rules called “work incentives” that allow you to test your ability to work. Learn more about disability benefits and take advantage of the Disability Starter Kit at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits.htm.
Tony Williams is a Social Security public affairs specialist in Aiken.