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Social Security Disability FAQs


Q. How do I apply for disability benefits?

Applying for disability benefits can be complex. You can apply: 1) in person by visiting your local Social Security office, 2) by phone by calling 1.800.772.1213, or 3) online by visiting www.ssa.gov. If you decide to apply online, contact Social Security by phone to ensure your application is in their system.

Q. How many work credits do I need in order to qualify for disability insurance benefits?

This will usually heavily depends on your age. There are special rules for claimants under 30. From age 31 – 42, you’ll need at least 20 credits to qualify. Beyond that, the requirement increases. Once you are age 62 or older, the maximum of 40 work credits are required.

Q. How severe does my injury/illness need to be in order to qualify?

Your medical condition must be established by a trained physician and cause “marked” and “severe” functional limitations. Most importantly, your impairment must meet or equal a Social Security “Listing” or prevent you from sustaining “substantial gainful activity”.

Q. How long does it take to get a decision?

Generally it takes 3 to 6 months to receive a decision. If you are not satisfied with the SSA’s decision, you may appeal your decision. If you are denied at the initial application you can appeal your decision by filing a request for Reconsideration. If your Reconsideration is denied, you will need to request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). It can take between 6 months and 2 years to have an ALJ assigned to your claim.

Q. What do I do if my claim was denied?

Don’t give up – Reach out to a friendly staff member of The Disability Help Group to get started on your appeal and other next steps.

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