If you are disabled and unable to maintain steady employment, the Social Security Administration offers benefits designed to ensure disabled people have an income to maintain their livelihood. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is the largest of several Federal programs to assist people with disabilities. REMEMBER: Apply as soon as you have clear medical evidence of a possible disability from a brain injury. The process can take months or a year to go through. If your TBI is mild, you probably will need a report from a licensed neuropsychiatrist after undergoing a neuropsychological battery. Also try to have support from a neurologist.
Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are insured, meaning that you worked long enough and paid social security taxes.
You can receive disability benefits after six months if you have a mental impairment that is expected to prevent you from doing substantial work for a year or more, and are under the age of 65. Of course medical evidence that demonstrates the applicants inability to work is required. The SSA will obtain all your medical records.
If you prefer to file in person, you can call their toll-free telephone number 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday to make an appointment; or go into your local Social Security Office; or you can start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment if you go to www.ssa.gov/disability and apply online.
The Social Security website gives you all the information needed to apply for SSDI benefits. Once at the website, to the right, you will see a section entitled “Applying for Benefits;” your first step is to click “How to Apply” by selecting this option it will navigate you to a new page. This page asks you to follow 4 easy steps to apply online:
- Review the Adult Disability Checklist for details about what you will need before starting the online process;
- Fill out the online Disability Benefit Application to provide us with information regarding eligibility for payment;
- Fill out the online Adult Disability Report to provide us with medical and work history; and
- Fill out, sign, and mail or take the Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration to your local Social Security office.
First, review the disability check list. This will give you information on materials you need to gather in order to successfully complete the application, such as having W-2 forms, social security number, banking and checking information with you while filling out the application. You will also need the names, addresses and phone numbers of all treating physicians, facilities and/or rehabilitation centers. The names of all testing done and a listing of jobs held.
Back on the home page, in the “Applying for Benefits” box, select and print the “Disability Starter Kit.” this is a worksheet you can prepare prior to filling out the application. You can now proceed to the second step -“Disability Benefit Application .”
On this page they will ask you if you are applying for yourself, or if you are helping someone fill out the application, which can be done. Hospitals have personnel that can also assist you with filing for disability. Check the appropriate boxes and proceed to the application. The application is approximately four pages. The website will now navigate you through the application process. You should know that at any time you can leave the application and return at a later date. The website will save any information you have already imputed.
Next is the Disability report. This application will ask for all your medical information, and work information, this section is time consuming but again you can return at a later time, should you need to.
Finally the SSA has an authorization for the release of records that will need to be printed, filled out, signed and mailed to your local Social Security Office.
You can find you local office by clicking “contact your local Social Security Office” on the home page located at the bottom of the page. Put in you zip code and it will give you the location of the nearest Social Security office.
If you are accepted, there is back payment paid to your from the date of the application forward. Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury cases do go through quickly and seem to have a good success rate if there is objective brain injury on MRI and/or CT.
If your application is denied, you can appeal the decision. But you should know that brain injury applicants have the highest rate of approved at the onset. This process can be done on line as well.
There are two parts to this Internet Appeal process: (1) an Appeal Request Internet form, and (2) an Appeal Disability Report that gives SSA more information about your condition. You can complete both forms online. To appeal online, the only form you are required to submit is an appeal request (Part 1). However, they encourage you to submit an Appeal Disability Report (Part 2) because it will gives more information about you and helps in processing your appeal. We estimate it will take 18 to 20 minutes, with an average of 19 minutes, to complete Part 1; and 15 to 45 minutes, with an average of 30 minutes, to complete Part 2. If you do not want to use the Internet to request your appeal, you can use any of the following ways:
- Call the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. Explain that you don’t want to use the online appeal process but do want to appeal the decision made in your case. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 7 PM. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, call the toll-free “TTY” number, 1-800-325-0778.
- Contact your local Social Security Office and tell the representative that you want to appeal the decision made on your case.
- Refer to your denial notice to find out the kind of appeal you need to request. You can print the form you need from the Forms Page. In addition to the appeal request form, you will need to print and complete a paper Appeal Disability Report (SSA-3441) and an Authorization to Disclose Information to SSA (SSA-827). After you print out and complete all three forms, you should mail or take them to your local Social Security Office. They will be able to take action more quickly if the receive all three forms at the same time.
You can handle your own Social Security appeal with free help from Social Security, or you can choose a lawyer, a friend or someone else to help you. Someone you appoint to help you is called your “representative”. You cannot choose someone who has been suspended or disqualified from representing others before the Social Security Administration or who may not, by law, act as a representative. They will work with your representative, just as they would work with you.
If you want to appoint someone as your representative, you or your representative must first complete form SSA-1696 (Appointment of Representative) or send a written letter naming your representative. If your representative is not an attorney, he or she must sign the letter or SSA-1696 or state in writing that he or she accepts the appointment, before you send it to SSA.
Your representative cannot charge or collect a fee from you without first getting written approval from Social Security. To charge you a fee for services, your representative first must file either a fee agreement or a fee petition with SSA. Your representative cannot charge you more than the fee amount they authorize. The fee you agreed on shall be no more than 25 percent of past-due benefits or $6,000, whichever is less.
A representative who charges or collects a fee without our authorization, or charges or collects too much, may be suspended or disqualified from representing anyone before the Social Security Administration and also may face criminal prosecution.
One last bit of information is this website is a multi-language site and can be viewed in Spanish, Creole, French, Italian, Greek and may other languages.