Applying for Social Security Disability

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: February 2011. | Last updated: May 2020

10 Things You Should Know About Chronic Migraines and Applying for Social Security Disability

1. Focus on how your health issues prevent you from working.

Social Security does not care how sick you are; rather, they need to know why and how you are prevented from working. Further, you must be unable to perform any work, not just the work you have been doing or have been educated or trained to perform.

2. Kill them with details.


3. Get your doctors on board.

One of the biggest obstacles people face in the application process is care providers who do not respond to Social Security Administration inquiries. It is very important that your doctors cooperate with the process. I recommend talking to them early on in the application process to tell them you are applying and find out what you can do to make it easier for them to fulfill their role.

4. Make copies of everything

Make copies of everythingand keep all relevant documents in a file in case you need them later. It’s not uncommon for things to get lost in the process.

5. Start collecting information.

You should gather:

  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of all doctors who have treated your medical condition.
  • Chart numbers and insurance numbers.
  • Dates you were seen by your doctors and dates you were treated.
  • Names of medications you are taking, the reason you are taking them and the doctor who prescribed them. (Your pharmacy can help you gather this information.)
  • Information about medical tests you have had. You will need to know where you were tested, the date of the test and who ordered the test.
  • Medical records.
  • The jobs you worked in the 15 years before you became disabled, the dates you started and ended your employment in those jobs and the tasks you performed in the positions.

6. Brainstorm your answers

Brainstorm your answers to the questions listed on the forms before you start filling them out. It’s just like writing an essay for school: Think about what you want to say before you start trying to write your answer. Make notes to yourself about anything you can think of that seems to relate to the question. Spending some time on your application can greatly improve the quality of details you’ll be able to provide over sitting down and writing whatever comes to mind in that one moment.

7. Ask people who know you well to review your answers and make suggestions of things you might have overlooked.


8. Comply with all deadlines.

It can be hard when you’re sick enough to be applying for disability benefits, but it’s a vital part of the application process.

9. Realize the wait time you can expect depends on where you live.

It’s not fair, but the backlog of applications varies by location. People in some places may wait many months or even years, while people in other places might wait just a couple of months for a decision on their applications.

10. Consider hiring a lawyer.

It is possible to apply for and receive benefits without a lawyer’s assistance, but having help from someone who knows the process well is valuable.

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