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If you believe you are eligible for benefits, the first step is to apply for Social Security disability benefits to start the claim. There are multiple ways to file that initial application.

SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. For most claimants, when you work and pay Social Security taxes, you become eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits as long as you worked five out of the past ten years. When you become disabled and believe you are no longer able to work, you have to get the process rolling. The way to get the process rolling is to file an initial application. That lets Social Security know that you are making a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Filing Online

To file a claim online, go to Social Security’s website and click the button for online services. That points you in the direction for getting your claim started online.

It is not a complicated process to file the claim online. It is very user friendly and is designed so that even people without a lot of computer skills can complete the application online.

When you apply online, you create an account with Social Security. You can work on small pieces of the application, save your work, and log out to take a break if necessary. Then log back in to complete your application.

There are very few drawbacks to applying online. If you are more comfortable speaking with someone face-to-face, applying online would be a drawback. Otherwise, the online application is very easy to use and allows people to complete their application at their own pace.

Filing Over the Phone

You can file your initial application over the phone. Call the 800 number for Social Security, which is 1-800-772-1213, to speak to a claims representative. They take your information over the phone. Afterwards, they send you some paper work to complete to get the initial application started.

Filing by Mail

Social Security mails the documents that constitute the initial application. You complete the paper work and mail it back to Social Security.

One of the advantages of filing an application for Social Security disability benefits through the mail is that you can take your time with the process. You can work on the application, set it aside, and go back to it later. There are very few cons of filing the application through the mail.

Filing in Person

You can also file the initial SSDI claim in person. The best way is to call Social Security’s 800 number or the local Social Security office and make an application appointment and go to the nearest Social Security office on the date of your appointment. Social Security sets a date for you to visit the Social Security office and complete your application in person. You could go to the local Social Security office and let them know you need to apply. But then, you have to make two trips to the Social Security office. They are not going to give you an appointment the same day that you initially visit.

There is no hearing at the initial meeting. The visit is an informal meeting with somebody who works for Social Security.

Required Documents

If you have your medical records, you can bring them with you. You also provide information about your identification. Bring any other paper work that you think might be helpful, such as letters from your doctors.

Medical Records

When filing an initial claim, Social Security has you sign a form that complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requirements and allows Social Security to obtain medical records on your behalf. It is helpful if you obtain your medical records and submit those directly to Social Security. That way you can ensure that Social Security has all of the pertinent records on your case.

When you complete your application, Social Security turns the case over to the North Carolina Disability Determination Services (DDS). They review the records to get a better understanding of what medical conditions prevent you from being able to work.

Examiners at the DDS look for several things in your medical records. The first thing they look for is the presence of a medically determinable impairment that impairs your ability to work. The examiners look for any statements your doctors made regarding the limitations you have that keep you from working a full-time job.

Additional Materials Required

The examiners at Disability Determination Services want to know about any updated medical records you have and where you receive treatment. They may also send you to an independent examination paid for by Social Security. These medical exams are called consultative examinations. They can be for physical problems as well as any type of mental or psychological problems.

Other Important Factors to Know

The majority of claims are denied at the initial application for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it is difficult to show from the records alone that you have a disabling condition bad enough to keep you out of work for a 12-month period or is expected to keep you out of work for 12-month period.

Also, do not assume that a medical problem is not severe. If you are having a problem with your shoulder, you need to list the problem with the shoulder. Even if, for example, a back problem is your worst health problem, do not leave out any information about your shoulder problem, even if the shoulder is less severe than the back problem.