Monday, February 25, 2013

Things to Know: Filing for Social Security

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...


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.

The Steps

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!


Unknown said...

Kayla - if you get turned down when you apply, which is often the case, don't give up. Get a lawyer that works with disability cases. They'll take a percent of what you're awarded but totally worth it.

Unknown said...

Thank you for putting together such guide. We'll have to deal with this too eventually for Gabriel :/ not looking forward to it.

Saving4Five said...

My Husband has MD and we have thought about applying but there are so many hoops. Thanks for getting all this together. now we know at least what to start with!

Allison M said...

This is a great guide for people that are looking for tips! Thanks!

Dee Mauser said...

My hubby applied for SSD a few years ago when he became injured at work and could no longer do his job. Of course the first step after being denied the first time (like the majority of people are), he obtained an attorney and after 4 years, yes 4 YEARS a judge finally approved him. Well nearly a year went by and we didn't receive or hear anything. And then a letter showed up in the mail stating that the first judge had made an error and that my hubby didn't qualify (even after having paid into SS for over 15 years). With his last job he was employed by the city which paid into a private retirement. And the government had just changed the rules. He had to have paid into SS within the last 5 years of applying. He just fell short so he was no longer qualified. After putting him through all that they did and making him wait so long, he got nothing. Hey wait, they offered him medicare but he would need to pay a $600/month payment to be covered. WTF? We already have medical coverage that only costs our entire family $400/month. Now why on earth would we pay out $600 for just my husband? Social security is a joke anymore. It isn't ran the way it used to be... the way it SHOULD be again!

Unknown said...

Thanks for these tips, you never know when you might have to apply!

Holly @ Woman Tribune said...

These are really great tips, and you're right, a handy little guide is invaluable when you find yourself in the midst of having to apply for social security. I have lived with a whole host of medical and mental issues that have rendered me pretty useless to the "normal" (hatethatwordhatethatword) workforce, which is why I run my blog and freelance articles to make up half of the household income. It isn't easy, but I have been able to make it work for the past five years, which I forget to pat myself on the back for all too often.

Christy Maurer said...

Thanks for sharing all of your research! You have had to be really thorough I am sure! If I ever need this, I'll be sure to refer to your work!

MikiHope said...

Don't wait too long to contact a lawyer. They really can help you with this kind of thing. I do agree that doing this online is the easiest-but for SSI or especially SSDI you are much better off going to the office. I just (yesterday as a matter of fact) applied online for regular retirement Soc Sec--I must say the process is really easy and I had almost no trouble at all-plus you can call their office if you do have a question.