What are Social Security Benefits and How Does Someone Apply

The Social Security Administration offers a number of benefits to different groups of people, with different programs serving different populations. One of these programs is designed to take care of our disabled population. Disability affects people of all age groups, whether you were born with it or find yourself permanently injured. The Social Security Administration points out that a twenty-year-old worker “has a 1-in-4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age,” and though young people might not be prepared for a life changing injury, this program is designed to take care of them when the need arises. SSDI Application

There are two separate programs that are designed with our disabled population in mind: Social
Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Though there are some differences between each program’s intentions, what matters is that both attend to the needs of people whose disabilities affect their ability to work. The major difference between the two is that SSDI pays benefits to you, your spouse, your divorced spouse if that happens to be the case, your children, an any adult children disabled before the age of 22, if you are “insured” (being “insured” in this situation means that you have a well-established work history, and have worked recently enough, to have paid Social Security taxes on your earnings). The SSI program offers benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. Our Social Security attorney can help give you a consultation and go over your options too.

The SSA has a few rules for what qualifies as a disability, as well as a process for how to determine if you are disabled. To begin with, disability rules state that an individual

  • Cannot work in the environment they previously have because of their medical condition
  • Cannot work in a different field due to their medical condition
  • Has a disability that has lasted or is anticipated to last for at least a year or will result in the individual’s death

If all three of these conditions are met then the medical condition will qualify an individual as disabled. Next comes the determination process, which is a little more rigorous. Questions that you should be prepared for will be 1) are you working, 2) is your condition ‘severe,’ 3) is your condition found on the list of disabling conditions (found here:, 4) can you do the work you did previously, and 5) can you do any other type of work.

What Does the Application Process Look Like?

One way to apply for benefits is online, with that information found on this site ( This site will answer a number of questions about the application process, and if you prefer working online, or with the assistance of a disability advocate or personal injury attorney in Birmingham, then this is your best option. 

There is also a phone in option. If you call 1-800-772-1213 you will be put in touch with your local Social Security office to meet with someone there, or you can talk to someone to make your claim over the phone. This process can take up to an hour. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, the TTY number for you to get in contact with is 1-800-325-0778. When you schedule an appointment this way you will be sent the Disability Starter Kit to prepare you for your full interview. The same kit is available at

For the application, you will need the following items/information:

  • Social Security number
  • Birth certificate
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of your doctors, hospitals, and any other medical professionals that offered care, as well as the dates of your visits
  • Names and dosage amounts for any medications you take
  • Any medical records that you possess from the medical professionals you see/have seen
  • Laboratory and test results
  • A summarization of your work history
  • A copy of your W-2 or federal tax returns for the past year if you are self employed

Other things you should be aware of: 

  • SSA notes that individuals do have the right to legal representation during this process, or in lieu of an Alabama injury attorney, another qualified individual (ie. a social worker)
  • The time between application and approval/denial can be between 3 to 6 months

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