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Social Security Disability FAQs

Social Security Disability FAQs

Q. What is the definition that Social Security uses for disability?

A. According to the Social Security Act, “disability” is the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

Q. What documents do I need to have to apply for Social Security disability?

A. You may need any of the following:
– Social Security card (or a record of your number);
– Your birth certificate or proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the U.S.;
– Your military discharge papers if you had military service; and
W-2 form from last year, or your last year’s tax return if you’re self-employed.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you are missing a document, don’t delay signing up for Social Security disability. You will need to provide that document later, but the application date is important.

Q. I am definitely disabled, so I should have no problem with having my application for benefits approved, right?

A. Unfortunately, almost 60 % of original applications for Social Security Disability benefits are denied. Many of these are approved during the appeals process.

Q. Do I have to go into the Social Security office to apply for disability payments? It is so difficult for me to get transportation.

A. As of January 28, 2002 we have a new answer for you. It is now possible to file for Social Security Disability Benefits online at http://www.ssa.gov/applyforbenefits/ to start your application.

Q. I have heard about a list of approved disabilities for benefits. How do I know if my disability is on this list?

A. There is a list within the social security system that allows a claimant to automatically qualify for benefits. Actually there are two: one for adult disabling conditions and one for children that lists applicable impairments. Your disability does not need to be on this list. You only need to prove that your disability is the equivalent of a condition that has already been approved for benefits.

Q. English is not my first language. What if I need an interpreter for these medical terms?

A. Interpreter services are provided free of charge by the Social Security Administration. The service is provided upon request of a claimant or beneficiary. You may also bring your own interpreter to the interview. Your interpreter must be at least 18 years old; be able to read, write and demonstrate fluency in English; and be able to read, write and demonstrate fluency in the language that you speak.

Q. If I fill out my application online, can I delete it if I need to?

A. The application is left on Social Security records for six-months. They are required to protect the date that you first indicated you wanted to apply for Social Security Benefits.