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How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Experienced lawyers help you meet complex Social Security Disability requirements

Social Security pays disability benefits if you meet certain eligibility requirements. If you have started to complete the application process, you may be overwhelmed and confused. At Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC, we represent your interests throughout the claims process — from the initial application to the final appeal. We explain every step of the process and always make your best interests our top priority.

The basic SSD requirements

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you must have a physical or mental impairment that prevents you from doing any substantial gainful work. In addition, the disability must be expected to last at least 12 months or be expected to result in death.

To determine if you meet these requirements, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) will review all the evidence submitted in connection with your claim. The process generally involves five main considerations:

  • Are you working? If you are working and your earnings average more than a certain amount each month, we generally will not consider you disabled.
  • Is your medical condition severe? Your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to perform basic work activities for at least one year.
  • Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments? The SSA maintains a list of medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically designate you as disabled. If your condition is not on the list, it must meet or equal a condition on the list in severity.
  • Can you do the work you did before? If your condition does not meet the severity requirements above, your medical condition must prevent you from being able to do the work you did before.
  • Can you do any other type of work? If you can do other, less demanding work, you will not be found disabled. The SSA will consider your medical status, age, education and prior work experience.

Proving you are disabled can be an arduous task, as many of these guidelines are open to interpretation. In order to give your claim the best chance of success, it is imperative to work with a qualified SSD attorney who can help provide strong evidence in support of each factor considered by the SSA.

Does your injury qualify as an automatic disability?

As discussed above, some injuries are considered so severe that the SSA always considers them a qualifying impairment for SSD benefits. Below are just a few of the categories and conditions included in the List of Impairments (called the blue book):

  • Autoimmune disorders — Lupus, multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Musculoskeletal impairments — Degenerative disc disease, spinal injuries, herniated disc, ruptured disc, carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis
  • Neurological disorders — Traumatic brain injury, stroke or seizure disorder
  • Respiratory disorders — Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), asthma or emphysema
  • Sensory impairments — Hearing loss or vision loss
  • Mental disorders — Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)  or autism
  • Endocrine disorders — Obesity, diabetes or neuropathy
  • Cardiovascular disorders — Heart failure, high blood pressure or coronary artery disease
  • Digestive disorders — Crohn’s disease, liver disease or irritable bowel disorder

The SSD application process

The SSD application process generally involves a mountain of paperwork. The two most important documents that you will submit are the application for Social Security benefits and the Adult Disability Report. You will also need to complete several other forms and gather existing documents regarding your medical condition and your ability to work. For example, you must provide medical records from any applicable doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics and caseworkers, along with the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any of these healthcare entities, and the dates of your visits. You must also submit the names and dosages of any medicines you are taking.

Can my doctor fill out the SSD paperwork?

Unfortunately, a statement from your doctor verifying your disability is not enough to support your claim. While you need your doctor’s assistance to file your application, there are a number of other requirements. For example, you must also fully detail your employment history.

The complexity of the Social Security benefit system requires in-depth knowledge of both the laws and the process. The best person to complete your SSD paperwork is an experienced disability lawyer. At Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC, we help you complete the original SSD application and navigate your claim through the entire process.

Contact a reputable SSD lawyer in Bristol today

At Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, PC, we work with you to satisfy all the necessary SSD requirements. Call us today at 423-797-6022 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. If you cannot come to our Bristol office, we offer home and hospital appointments to injury victims and their families.