Should You File for Your Social Security Benefits Online, Over the Phone, or in Person?
There are 3 ways to apply for Social Security disability benefits: online, over the phone, or in person. So, how should you apply? I'll talk a little bit about the pros and cons of each application method and you can choose the best fit for you.
You can apply for your SSDI benefits online. Social Security encourages people to file online - it helps them by decreasing in-person appointments in already crowded Social Security field offices. And it can be a great option for you. The pros are that you can apply any time that is convenient for you and from the comfort of your home. You can start the application, save your progress, and come back to it later if needed. Social Security will provide a re-entry code and once you have completed the application and submitted it, you will receive a receipt that you can keep for your records. The negatives of this method are that the application itself is quite tedious, requiring a lot of detailed information that you'll need to gather before starting. This information includes your W-2 from last year, your DD-214 if you have military service, contact information for a person who knows about your illness, information about your illness, including dates of treatment and patient ID numbers, names, addresses, and phone numbers of your health care providers, names and dates of medical tests you have had and who requested the tests, names of your medications, and a list of your jobs over the past 15 years. You can't complete the application without this information. Additionally, you need easy access to a computer and the internet. Notably, you cannot apply for SSI online.
OVER THE PHONE
Your second option for applying for your disability is by phone. You can schedule an appointment by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213. You will give them some basic information, and they will schedule a day and time for someone in your local Social Security field office to call you and complete the application. This is a good option if you do not have transportation or access to a computer with internet. You still need the information listed in the section above, but the process is a little less rigid. Failure to have an address for one of your doctors won't prevent you from completing the application process. Negatives include a longer wait time for the appointment. Because Social Security offices are so busy, you can expect to be on hold when you call for your appointment. In addition, your appointment may be up to a month after you first make the call.
Lastly, you can apply for Social Security disability in person. If you're not sure where your closest field office is, you can use Social Security's office locator. You can walk into any office at any time and tell them that you want to file an application. In this scenario, you get to talk face to face with an employee. You can bring in paperwork and get the application started as quickly as possible. It's a good option if you do not have reliable access to a phone or a computer. Pertinent negatives include potentially long wait times at the Social Security office. Social Security offices are notoriously busy and there's no way to predict how long you'll have to wait to be seen. Prepare to be at the office at least 1-2 hours. Of course, for this option, you'll also need access to transportation to and from the office.
Whichever way you decide to apply, getting your application filed is the first step. Don't put it off. Social Security is already a long process. The longer you wait to apply, the longer the process gets. Your application date also affects your backpay. Waiting to apply can cost you money. If you have any questions about starting or appealing your Social Security disability claim, contact the experienced disability attorneys at Gardberg & Kemmerly today to discuss your options. Gardberg & Kemmerly has been assisting Social Security claimants with their disability claims for over 30 years in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana.