When you become ill or injured to the point of being disabled, the Social Security Administration encourages you to file for disability benefits as soon as possible. If you're not yet 65 years old, the application process is not complex, though it is a lengthy one. Several factors and criteria need to be met in order to receive disability benefits. These steps will walk you through the general process a 58-year-old individual would take to apply for disability benefits.
Determine your basic eligibility. Two tests are used to determine whether or not your application will make it through the first level of consideration. The first is the "Recent Work" test. This questions whether you have worked during five of the past 10 years, based on the quarter in which you became disabled. The second test, the "Duration of Work Test," indicates that at age 58, you must have worked at least nine years of your lifetime.
Apply for disability benefits. You can fill out an application online. If you are not comfortable with this, you can call a toll-free telephone number to set up an appointment at your local Social Security office. While the initial application form seems lengthy, you will be asked many more questions before the process is completed.
Gather important information for the rest of the application process. By getting all of this information together prior to any interviews you may save some time in the long term. This information includes: birth/baptismal certificate, social security number, military service records/discharge information, medicines and dosages, contact information for health professionals who have been involved in your case, any medical records or test results you have possession of, a W-2 or most recent tax return and a summary of past work experience. If some of this information is not available, don't worry about it. The Social Security office will help you acquire information when you have difficulty.
Complete the disclosure form. The Social Security Administration will need to check with your doctors and health care providers about the medical condition that has caused your disability. By filling out the "Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (SSA) Form," you give your doctors the opportunity to speak on your behalf and explain your health condition to Social Security representatives.
- Do not present false information. This will only get you disqualified.
- Always be honest and up-front with the interviewers. They can't help you if you aren't honest.
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images