The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs help millions of Americans every year. These programs give people who suffer from disabling long-term conditions much-needed financial support.
However, before you file for either of these programs, there are a few things you’re going to need to know, certain actions you’ll need to take, and certain pieces of paperwork you’ll need to have filled out:
The SSI/SSDI Filing Paperwork Checklist
Before you file for SSI or SSDI, you’ll need to have the following documentation on hand:
- Detailed records of your last 2 years of work history, whether you were self-employed or employed by another. This includes:
- W-2 or IRS 1040 and Schedules C and SE if self-employed.
- Employer name, start date of work, and end date of work.
- Total earnings if working for another company (should be on your W-2 form).
- Business type and total net income if self-employed.
- Other Work History information. The SSA needs to know when you became disabled, and what kind of work you were doing in the 15 years before you became unable to work.
- Your Social Security Number (SSN). The Social Security Administration (SSA) may demand that you submit your Social Security card to them as proof of identification. This number may be used to collect additional tax information relating to previous work history. Your SSN may also help establish:
- Your citizenship or alien status record. Part of establishing your eligibility for SSI or SSDI benefits is to prove your citizenship or legal alien status by providing identifying documentation such as your birth certificate (or religious record equivalent), state ID/driver’s license, U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, or immigration documents.
- Documentation regarding your U.S. military service, if applicable. Time in the U.S. military may affect your eligibility for some programs, or open up other veteran-specific entitlements, especially if your disability is linked to your military service.
- Education information. Your previous schooling may allow you to perform different kinds of work, which the SSA takes into account when evaluating your application. Basic information to report includes:
- Highest completed grade in school and the date you completed it.
- Names of any special job training and vocational/trade schools you completed and when.
- Name, city & state, and date of completion for any special education schooling you completed.
- Details about your medical history and condition. The SSA needs detailed information about your condition to approve SSI or SSDI benefit payments. Medical information that you need to have on hand includes:
- Date your medical condition began to affect your work capacity
- Information about doctors, healthcare professionals, and hospitals/clinics that provided you with care. Names, addresses, phone and FAX numbers, and patient ID numbers should be included.
- Names and dates of any medical tests you’ve gone through and who recommended them.
- Names of any medications you are currently taking, who prescribed them, and why.
- Marital status information. The SSA will request information about your current and/or former spouse, including their date of birth, SSN, where the marriage occurred, and beginning and end dates of the marriage (if applicable). This may be used to determine if you could also be eligible for benefits on a Social Security record other than your own or if someone else could be entitled to benefits on your record.
- Documentation of Income and Personal Assets (SSI Only). SSI applicants must have limited funds and resources to qualify for SSI payments. To demonstrate that you meet the SSA’s requirements, you’ll need to supply them with financial documentation such as:
- Proof of income (payroll stubs, tax returns, etc.).
- Bank statements.
- Life/disability insurance policies.
- Burial contracts and plots.
- Certificates of deposit, stocks, and other investment records.
- Titles/registrations for any vehicles you own.
- Information about your living arrangements.
- Records of other types of benefits you have applied for and are currently receiving, including SSDI, worker’s compensation, etc.
- Bank Routing Number (for direct deposit payments). If your benefits application is approved, you’ll need to supply the SSA with your bank account routing number so they can direct deposit the funds into your bank account. This is the fastest and most reliable way to collect your payments.
That’s a daunting amount of paperwork, but the more of this documentation you have, the better. If you cannot find some of this documentation, the SSA may help you collect it.
How to File for SSI and SSDI in Florida
The process for filing for SSI and SSDI in Florida can vary a bit. For example, SSDI applications can be completed almost wholly online, applications for SSI benefits cannot. The paperwork, medical documents, and application for SSI must be filed manually.
To file for SSDI online, you can go to the SSA’s website and follow the on-screen instructions.
To file for SSI benefits, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a local Social Security office by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm on a weekday (Monday-Friday).
If you are asked to mail in your original documentation, be sure to include a separate piece of paper marked with your name and SSN in the envelope. This will allow the SSA’s officials to match the document with your application record.
What to Do if Your Claim is Rejected
If your application is rejected, that doesn’t automatically mean you should give up. There are many reasons why an application may be rejected. It’s important to check the reason why your claim was rejected and see if you can do something about it.
Common reasons for rejections include:
- Lack of medical evidence;
- Failure to communicate;
- Not following a prescribed treatment or therapy regimen; and
- Simple clerical errors.
Most of these rejections can be easily addressed when you appeal. Other rejection reasons, such as not meeting the medical definition of disability, can be a bit more challenging to appeal.
If you need help organizing your claim, consider reaching out to a dedicated Social Security disability advocate. An experienced advocate may be able to help you claim the benefits you deserve.