Ever since falling sick in January of 2004, getting (and keeping) a 'real life' job has been mostly out of the question. Since then, there have been those ups where I thought I was doing good enough and had the opportunity to work, but those ups were far and few in between.
The longest job I held was the one when I was hired at the state park nearest my house back in 2008; worked from July until the beginning of October, experienced a relapse which usually happens in the Fall and had to quit. Thankfully it was only a seasonable job and the owner was extremely understanding, so it wasn't a big to-do.
Thinking back, I REALLY lucked out with that job; not many kids have that kind of luck with their first job.
Anyway, since my health is too unpredictable to be able to hold a steady job, social security has been on the to-do list for awhile. My jewelry only brings in so much money, but that's definitely not enough to live on. I have medical bills I'm responsible for and if I have any hope of venturing off on my own, I need to pull a Tim Gun--Make it work!
If you're in a similar position I am, I've taken the time to compile this easy-to-start social security guide. I sure would have benefited from an easy guide like this when I started this process...
SSI vs SSDI
There are 2 different kinds of social security: SSI (supplemental security income) and SSDI (social security disability insurance).
Social security disability insurance is for those people who have worked a job or jobs for an extended period of time and have contributed continual amounts of their steady income into social security though out the years. The income you receive from social security disability is dependent on your individual social security earnings record.
Supplemental security income is a program for people, such as myself, who haven't payed much into social security for whatever reason or another and whom have limited income and resources. The income you receive from supplemental security income is dependent on your needs and can vary depending on the federal benefit rate; as of January 1, 2013 the federal benefit rate is $710 for an individual and $1,066 for a couple.
Things You'll Need
1. Original Birth certificate
2. Original Social Security Card
3. Valid ID
4. Any and all medical information or other information that can help the process along, I.E. doctors you've been to, diagnosises and dates you've received them, etc.
5. Checking and or savings account numbers (for direct deposit purposes)
If you're interested in seeing a more in depth list of what you might possibly need, you can check out the Disability Benefits Checklist.
There are a few avenues you can go from here once you've identified the specific type of social security you'll be applying for and gathering up the information you'll need. Once that's all done and taken care of, you can do one of two things:
1. Apply directly online and avoid the hassle of heading down to your local social security office.
2. Gather everything up and head down to deal with applying in person.
In my experience if you're applying for SSDI (social security disability insurance), you're more apt to choose the online route because it's pretty direct and straightforward. I ended up doing that the first time I applied, however I didn't do enough research and mixed up the two social securities ultimately applying for the wrong thing and getting denied because of my mistake.
If you're in a situation like me and need to go for SSI (supplemental security income), you have to take the time to apply in person because there is no online application for SSI as of yet. I highly suggest this route anyway; I had to drive 20 minutes each way and wait for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours for my turn to be taken care of but it was WELL worth knowing I did things correctly!
Regardless of which social security you applied for, there is always a waiting process of 4 weeks to 8 months depending on the complicated nature of your case. For someone who has a pretty straightforward case, I'd assume you'd get your answer sooner rather than later.
For someone like me, my case agent who filed my application said it could take up to 6 to 8 months for the government to gather all my medical information and make a final decision whether to grant it to me or not.
Right now it's just playing the waiting game!