Applying for Social Security Disability is no easy task. It is often emotionally and mentally exhausting. For some people, having an appointed Social Security Disability Advocate on board gives them the peace of mind they need to help them through the lengthy process.
A Social Security Advocate is someone who helps an individual who can no longer work (due to a debilitating medical condition) apply for benefits. Typically, an Advocate understands the challenges that many people with disabilities have to overcome, and aids the individual with compassion and understanding. An Advocate can be a family member, a friend, or a lawyer. Choosing a professional Advocate is often beneficial, as they have a greater knowledge base of the laws surrounding Social Security Disability Insurance than a friend of family member may have. Many people apply to the Social Security Administration every year and are denied disability; having an Advocate can better ensure your chances of getting approved and avoiding the challenge of appealing a denied claim. Having a representative that is passionate about your situation and eager to help can be a huge stress reducer for people suffering from disabilities. Some Social Security Disability Advocates also offer a free evaluation screening.
The Social Security Administration holds to a high standard of eligibility. Their criteria are quite detailed and specific. Here is a list of things that will help you determine if you are eligible:
- Are you working?
- Is your condition “severe”?
- Is your condition found on the list of disabling conditions?
- Can you do the work you did previously?
- Can you do any other type of work?
There is no type of short-term disability insurance available, so if you are considered partially disabled it will not qualify you for benefits. You must be unable to work for the duration of an entire year, as well as unable to resume work in the future. The Social Security Administration assumes that you have access to other forms of support during short-term hindrances, such as worker's compensation, investments, or savings.
One of the most challenging phases of obtaining disability insurance is the disability application process. Here is a list of information required for your disability application:
- Proof of age (Birth certificate)
- Social security number
- Marriages and dependents
- Names of current prescriptions
- List of doctors, clinics, therapists, and hospitals
- Summary of work
- List of where you worked
- History of Wages
- Recent W-2 form
A Social Security Advocate is trained to walk you through the application process with ease. They should be prepared to help you submit a winning application—one that will surely help you receive the benefits you need. If your application is approved for Social Security Disability Benefits, here is what your benefits will include:
- A monthly cash payment
- After 24 months of receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, you will be eligible for Medicare - a health insurance program that is federally funded.
- Protection for Social Security Retirement Benefits Insurance
When you reach retirement age, your cash benefits transfer into your retirement benefits. This benefit is protected from change once you confirm that you have been away from the workforce because of your disabling condition.
Advocates are available to help those with disabilities during every stage of the process. Whether you are just thinking of applying or have been recently denied, an Advocate can step in and help you move ahead and obtain the benefits you need. There are Advocates who can prepare everything for you, leaving you with total peace of mind, or there are Advocates who can work side-by-side with you as a team—getting the job done together.
It is important to remember, however, that individuals have the freedom to represent themselves when dealing with the Social Security Administration. Having a Social Security Disability Advocate is not required. If the case reaches federal courtroom status, though, it may become necessary to have an attorney available for representation.
Before choosing an Advocate, find out their history of work and success. If you have taken the time to search out someone to represent you, then you should have a deeper understanding of what they can do for you. Find out how many times they have gone through the process with other clients or friends. Find out also how much they know about the application process and how it might relate to your specific situation and disability.
After you have chosen an advocate, you must be prepared to sign two documents:
- A Social Security Disability Representative Form
- A Fee Agreement Form (between you and the Advocate)
Most Advocates will not charge a fee unless the disability claim is approved, but be sure to read the fine print in order to understand what you may or may not be paying. Just be aware that the fee agreement you sign should live up to all the Advocate assures will be coming your way.