When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, one of the first forms you will need to fill out is the SSA-16-F6. The SSA-16-F6 is a basic claim form, and most of the questions you must answer are fairly straight forward. However, the way in which you answer certain questions on the SSA-16-F6 can make all the difference whether your initial Social Security Disability claim is accepted, or whether you will need to go through a lengthy appeals process.
One of the biggest favors you can do yourself is to consult with a Social Security Disability lawyer right from the beginning of your claims process. You are entitled to representation at all stages of the claims and appeals process. Best of all, your attorney will not need to be paid out of your pocket, but will be paid a percentage (no higher than 25%) of the back pay, due when your claim is accepted by the Social Security Administration.
As with any other form, you will want to double check to make sure that all information on your SSA-16-F6 is filled in completely and correctly. The last thing you want is wrong information holding up your claim. Even in the best circumstances, Social Security Disability claims generally take three months or more for approval. Seemingly small errors, like incorrect Social Security numbers or missing information can hold up your Social Security Disability claim.
Section 4 of the SSA-16-F6 is worth noting. You are asked to give a brief description of all medical or mental conditions which hinder your ability to work. While you certainly don’t want to overwrite in this section, you will want to make sure that every limiting condition you have is documented thoroughly. You should explain enough so that someone will get a full understanding of your disability, and why it makes it impossible for you to maintain gainful employment.
Section 10 asks whether you are eligible for pension funds which were not subject to Social Security. Most pensions do not fall under this category, and most of the ones that do are related to public service, foreign employment, or government employment. If you think you may be entitled to pension funds which were not subject to Social Security taxes, ask a Social Security Disability lawyer or contact the benefits director of the company your pension is from.
When you fill out the SSA-16-F6, you should inform your doctor, mental health professional, former employers, and others who are likely to be contacted by the Social Security Administration regarding your claim. If the SSA does not receive replies from these individuals when they ask for information, they will render their decision regarding your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits without all of the pertinent information. This causes your chances of having your claim accepted to drop significantly.
You should read and pay special attention to the section titled “Changes to be Reported and How To Report". This section details what kinds of changes the Social Security Administration needs to be made aware of. If you don’t make the SSA aware when any of the mentioned changes take place, you may lose out on benefits you are entitled to. Worse, you may be overpaid after your Social Security Disability claim is accepted. If you are overpaid, you will be required to pay back the overpayment, which is an unnecessary hassle.