If you are responsible for providing supportive, daily care for a disabled individual, whether it is your own parent or another loved one, you can help them apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Here are some tips to keep in mind when helping the individual you are caring for apply of benefits.
Tip #1: Gather Medical Documentation
It is important that you collect as many medical records as possible prior to applying for benefits on behalf of the individual in your care. Copies of those records should be submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA) at the time you apply for benefits or shortly after.
The individual may already have some of the pertinent records, but most will need to be obtained from his or her medical care providers. In order for you to gain access to those records, the individual will need to give you formal permission to receive and/or review confidential health information.
More information on gathering medical documentation: http://www.disability-benefits-help.org/disability-tips/gathering-medical-records
Tip #2: Gather Financial Records
Both of the SSA’s disability programs – Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – have financial eligibility criteria. This means the SSA will need access to financial records to make a determination on your charge’s claim for benefits.
You will need to collect financial records prior to applying and provide accurate information to the SSA in the application process. Those records include:
- Checking and savings account information, including balances
- Investments, retirement plans, and assets
- Property details, including homes, vehicles, and any other valuables
- Any cash support or other benefits your charge receives
Tip #3: Fill Out The Application
As a caregiver, you can help your charge fill out the application for benefits. Online application via the SSA’s website is available, and you can also attend an in-person application appointment with your charge at the SSA’s local office. Call 1-800-772-1213 to schedule an appointment with the local office, or visit the SSA’s online: http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm to initiate and file an online claim.
Tip #4: Follow Up on the Application
After you have submitted the application for benefits, you can help your charge follow-up on the claim. You can check the status of the application online, which is the fastest way to determine how the application is proceeding through the review process. You can also see if there are any requests for additional information, and assist your charge in responding to those requests. The online status check can be completed here: https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/IAPS/applicationStatus
Tip #5: Don’t give up if application is denied
Almost 2/3 of disability claims are initially denied. Don’t be discouraged if the claim is denied, there is an extensive appeals process through which you obtain the benefits that the individual you are caring for needs. If the claim is denied, you should however strongly consider hiring a disability attorney or advocate to help you with the appeals process.