finding a needle in
Have you ever
wondered why it is so difficult to understand the Social Security Administration's
disability program despite the enormous amounts of free SSA information?
the old adage, "if you really want to hide something, place it in plain sight."
Social Security currently supplies so much
public disability benefit information that the information has become meaningless to
all but a few who are specifically trained to use it.
Guardian Advocates designed this page to
locate, organize and present key points to help you better understand the SSA application
or appeal process. Armed with these key points, you then can either:
In order to achieve this goal, Guardian
Advocates offers the following 3-STEP
winning SSA disability benefits approval:
walks you through questions and answers designed to put you on the
right path to winning SSA disability benefits approval. Just click on any of the questions
below to learn more:
What is it
How does it work
v Am I qualified for it
v How do I get it
v What should I DO when trying to get it
v What should I NOT DO when trying to get it
v What should I do if they say NO
v What help is available
Our goal for this first step is to allow you
to pursue your SSA disability benefits with the conviction that it is rightfully yours and
provides you a choice of
DOCUMENTS TO DOWNLOAD
(frequently asked questions) to pertinent SSA-related disability information
to expand your under-standing of the entire process. All of the document downloads also are
available by mail.
The goal of step two, with these
materials, is to help you obtain your benefits either on your own or with assistance.
outlines Guardian Advocates' representation service as your alternative to
self-application and/or appeal. You are directed to the remaining pages of this web site
to review and consider using our
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Now, let's begin
by answering those
Social Security Administration Disability Benefits are monthly
payments made to you due to one or more impairments you suffered that prevent you from
working. SSA determines your right to receive these monthly payments based on certain
factors that can include the severity of your impairment, the length of time your
disability is expected to last, your inability to work, your work history, your age, your
education and your income and resources.
Actually there are two programs for SSA disability benefits: 1)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and; 2) Supplemental Security Income
For both programs, SSA defines "disability" as ...
"the inability to do any substantial gainful activity [work] by reason of a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
For most people, the medical requirements and determination
process to establish disability benefits are the same for both programs. Further
considerations are given for each program as described in the next two paragraphs.
The first, SSDI also called Title 2, provides benefits for
any disabled person who is unable to work, due to the severity of their impairment(s), but
has a previous work history. Your Social Security payroll deduction or self-employment
tax, when you could work, created your entitlement. Yes, you already paid into this
program so, if you qualify, the benefits are rightfully yours.
The second, SSI also called Title 16, provides benefits for any
blind, disabled or elderly person (65 years of age or older) who meets certain resource
and income rules. Your work history is not a factor. Your financial need for benefits
becomes the SSA guideline. As an American citizen and qualified applicant, you are
entitled to these benefits and should employ any and all resources to collect what
rightfully is yours.
information about these two programs, be sure to click on
v DISABILITY PROGRAMS
or additional SSA
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If you have suffered one or more impairments that prevent you
from working (SSDI) and/or you meet certain financial need qualifications (SSI), you can
receive SSA disability benefits until age 65. When you reach age 65, your disability
benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same.
In addition, certain members of your family may qualify for
benefits on your record. For further information regarding family members seeking
benefits, be sure to read
SSA PUBLICATION No. 05-10029 v
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You have two choices:
If you are
recently disabled, helpful information is available by reading
HOW TO APPLY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS
on the SSA web
site. Learn as much as possible about the application process discussed. When you are
confident that you can pursue your own claim, then apply in person at any
LOCAL SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICE
Or while exploring your options:
touring our web site by visiting our
page, reviewing how we can help, considering our
promise, and then
Please note that in the case you're filing a claim some time
after you've become disabled ... while you may receive back benefits from the date you
became disabled, they are limited to one year before the date you filed for benefits.
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Disability claims generally take much longer to process than
other types of Social Security claims ... from 90 to 120 days or longer. If you decide to
apply on your own, you can help shorten the process by taking certain documents with you.
For a list of these documents, click on
HOW CAN I SPEED UP MY CLAIM?
of the SSA Publication No.
In addition you can lean about
THE DISABILITY REPORT FORM GUIDE
on the SSA web site. This is the
most important document used in your application for disability benefits.
In review, if you decide to go it alone,
search the web, investigate sources regarding your impairment,
read, make notes and ask questions of any available source. We
welcome calls and emails regarding any and all SSA-related
disability benefit determination processes. You cannot be well enough prepared.
If you discover that the do-it-yourself path to SSA disability
benefits is just too challenging,
us. We will keep our promise to you and help put cash benefits into your
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Learn how not to assassinate your own
application. There are five (5) most common mistakes made by disability applicants that
can literally kill the chances of receiving SSA disability benefits:
of the Social Security Administration regarding the development and evaluation of
Depending upon the good will
Social Security will not seek out additional information that might help your claim
unless they are specifically made aware of it. If you allege only one impairment, SSA will
evaluate only that impairment. This is true even if you suffer from multiple impairments
that collectively could prevent all forms of work. SSA will not go out of its way to
find additional impairments that may help your case. Therefore, it is your responsibility
and that of your representative, if you choose one, to make sure that SSA is aware
of all serious impairments that collectively may result in an allowance determination.
Spilling your guts
to Social Security Administration
Social Security will ask and should be told all pertinent information concerning your
case. However, this does not mean that you are obligated to supply information that would
damage your chances of receiving benefits.
For example, during many years at Social Security, a Guardian Advocates' mentor and
trainer would interview a claimant by asking questions concerning his usual daily
activities. You would be amazed at how many applicants would foolishly admit to levels of
activity that clearly showed that they were indeed capable of work. SSA would then use the
applicant's statements as a means of denying the case.
Not collecting all pertinent
prior to application.
Collecting all pertinent evidence prior to application can favor you as the applicant
in a number of ways. First, it allows you or your representative to develop a presentation
strategy before submitting evidence to SSA. It also eliminates SSA's need to request
medical evidence of record. Removing SSA from the case development loop can cut
months off the time it takes to complete a standard disability case.
first denial decision.
This is extremely common and for good reason. If you, as the applicant, have traversed
the disability process and have been found not disabled, you were probably very frustrated
and intimidated by the system. As a result, you may have given up, feeling that there
is absolutely nothing you can do to reverse the decision. Nothing could be further
from the truth!
Not seeking representation
at the first application level.
Look! No one is forced to hire a representative when applying for Social Security
disability benefits! As a matter of fact, if you follow the guidelines we suggest in
this web site and do your homework, you may have more confidence to go it alone.
However, given the complexities involved in this process, it makes no sense not to seek
help as soon as possible. Early use of a Guardian Advocates professionally trained
consultant will help you avoid the common mistakes that often result in a denial of
benefits. This means that, with representation, you may get your benefits sooner and
without facing the usual lengthy appeals process.
Armed with this information, you have the ability to improve your application chances
and not assassinate your own application.
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on the SSA web site. For other state
residents, the time to respond is the same. Please read
THE APPEALS PROCESS (SSA Publication
"No" means you have been denied the benefits for which you
initially applied or "No" may mean you have been denied, again, benefits for
which you appealed an initial denial.
In the first case (denial of benefits after initial application) you will
receive a letter notifying you of the denial with an explanation that may or may not make
a great deal of sense. Here again you have two choices:
If you go it alone in Alabama; Alaska;
Colorado; Louisiana; Michigan; Missouri; New Hampshire; Pennsylvania; North and West Los
Angeles, CA; Albany and Brooklyn, NY; you will have sixty days to appeal the initial
denial. Be sure and read
PROCESS (SSA Publication
Guardian Advocates for a free
consultation with your initial denial. Do not give up under any circumstances.
In the second case (denial of benefits after reconsideration or hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge), if you are convinced you still are entitled benefits,
you should proceed only with representation. Presentation of information beneficial to
your case will need review and restructuring by a trained benefits advocate.
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You are entitled to a representative at any time during an SSA disability benefits
case. Even the government acknowledges that the probability of winning benefits is
improved when a representative is involved. We recommend your reading
YOUR RIGHT TO
REPRESENTATION (SSA Publication No. 05-10075)
With Guardian Advocates' assistance, we promise that your will:
application or appeal representation
and peace of mind
We encourage you to visit our
v page to better evaluate how we can keep that
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