How To Win Your Disability Claim!
Lesson 2 - Answering The Questions
Social Security Will Ask You On The Phone
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    If you believe that you are disabled, you will need to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. The easiest way to apply is to call Social Security's toll free number and apply by phone.  The number is 1-800-772-1213. This is a national toll free number.

    Please realize that this toll free number is used by Social Security for many purposes. You will need to work your way through many levels of voice mail to get to a live person. What you are trying to do is apply for Title II Disability Benefits.

     Social Security Disability is not like Social Security retirement. In a retirement case, Social Security (should) contact you on your 62nd birthday to tell you about your retirement benefits.

     In a disability case, however, you can't wait for someone to call you - you have to apply.

     You should call Social Security to start your applications as soon as possible. Unlike retirement Social Security, which looks at your lifetime earnings record, Social Security disability looks at approximately the last ten years. If you delay applying, you may run out of credits for disability.

You can also apply by calling or visiting your local Social Security office. Depending on where you live, applying locally may take longer or it may be quicker. You can find the telephone number for your local office in your local phone book.

When you apply, you will be asked many questions. You need to know the correct answers to the following:

1. Are you working now? Your answer needs to be no or I have been trying, but I keep losing my job because I am out too much.  If you are still technically employed (not yet fired) but not actually performing any work, you can answer no, I am not working.

If the Social Security operator concludes that you are still working, he/she may not take your application.

2. When did you become disabled? This date will become your onset date. This is very important. In many cases, your onset date is the last day you were able to work.

However, if your last few weeks or months of work were part time -- if you missed a great deal of time -- or if you received special considerations or extra help from your employer or co-workers -- then your onset date may be several weeks or even months before the day you actually stopped work.

While it will be hard to prove an onset date more than two or three months prior to the day you stopped working, the point to keep in mind is that generally, the earlier your onset date, the better.

3. What is your Social Security number?

Here are a few other tips:

Tip #1: Social Security has several disability programs. If you think that you might qualify for any of these, make sure to ask the Social Security operator. Here are some (but not all) of the programs that may apply to you:

- Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI). This disability program pays benefits to people who have not earned enough work credits to qualify for Disability benefits and who have very limited income and resources. In some cases, Disability claimants can also qualify for SSI. Since there is no harm or cost in applying, every disability applicant should also tell the operator that he/she wants to apply for SSI as well. Learn more here 

- Disabled widow's benefits (DIWB). This is a disability program in which claimants can apply for benefits based on their deceased spouse's earnings record. You become eligible on your 50th birthday if the onset date of your disability is within seven years of your spouse's death. You must apply between the ages 50 to 60.

- Divorced spouse's benefits. This is a disability program in which a claimant can apply for benefits based on his/her divorced spouse's earnings record. To qualify, you must be at least 62 years old, currently unmarried, and were married to your ex-spouse for at least 10 years.

- Benefits payable to your children. If you have children under the age of 18 or if you are caring for a disabled child, dependent children of a disabled parent will generally receive about 50% of the disabled parent's monthly benefit. The 50% is divided equally among all eligible dependents. 

Tip #2: Before you apply -- or at the time you apply -- send for your statement of earnings and benefits (SSA-7004). This will tell you if you are eligible for disability benefits. Also, it will tell you how much money you are likely to receive each month if your application is approved. A copy of Form SSA-7004 and directions about how to fill it out are included in the Disability Answer Guide.

If you believe that your earnings record is incorrect, you can start the process of correcting your your earnings record by completing Form SSA-7005, which is included in the Disability Answer Guide.

Your earnings record could be incorrect if an employer did not properly report salary income you earned. If you have proof that you worked for an unreported period, you can get your record corrected.

After you file your application, you should receive a confirmation in the mail. If you don't get any letters, pick up the phone and call again - Social Security has been known to lose applications and files.

Once you start the application process, you need to take an active role in collecting and submitting medical and work activity information. You will learn more about the information you will need in lesson 3.

     The Disability Answer Guide is the comprehensive, step-by-step, plain English instruction manual you need to help you apply for and win your case.  You'll discover real-life examples of over 100 pages of Social Security forms you'll be dealing with before, during, and after being processed through the disability system. 

     Each form is filled out with sample answers for you to copy and modify. If you are in pain or have trouble concentrating, this will save you time and stress and eliminate a lot of frustration.

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Brian Therrien

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