Winning a Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case is a long process. There are no guarantees that an SSI case will be won, but there are steps to take that improve the odds. The Social Security office only takes the paperwork for the application. It is the examiner at the Disability Determination Services who determines whether an applicant qualifies for SSI benefits; a person who is disabled is not automatically entitled to receive them. The disability must also prevent the person from working for at least 12 months.`
Visit your doctor. Let him know that you are applying for supplemental security income for your disability. This is the most important step. A disability determination is not based on medical tests. It is determined by your doctor's findings as noted in your medical chart. There is a vast difference between a doctor noting that a patient has back pain or that a patient is unable to work because of back pain. Your doctor is your most important ally in the determination of disability.
Fill out an SSI claim form. This can be done either online or at a local Social Security office. If you file for SSI online, there is a medical release form that you will need to print out.
Take the medical release form to the Social Security office. This is very important. The office cannot begin processing your claim without this document. If you apply in person at the Social Security office, representatives will have you fill out the form at that time.
Take the copies of your medical records and the contact information for all your doctor and hospital visits to your local Social Security office. You will need to wait for a week after your initial application to take these in. That gives the office time to get your name in the system.
Call periodically to check on your case. You will need to call the examiner assigned to your case at Disability Determination Services. The Social Security office can provide you with the phone number to Disability Determination Services. Let the examiner know if you have had any doctor visits or medical procedures since your original application. It is your responsibility to keep Disability Determination Services informed of any continuing medical treatment.
File an appeal immediately if your case is denied. This appeal is called a Request for Reconsideration. You have a limited amount of time to file an appeal. If you wait too long--or file a new application--you will have to start the process (and the waiting time) all over again from the beginning.
If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, file immediately to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. You may want to consider obtaining legal representation to assist you at this hearing.