During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, many people are trying to stay home as much as possible, and many government offices – such as Social Security Administration (SSA) offices – are closed to the public aside from emergency situations. The good news for individuals who need to apply for Social Security disability benefits is that you can complete the application right from your own home. Even though you can apply online, you should know that the application process can still be complicated, so it is wise to discuss the application process with a disability benefits attorney before you start.
Who Can Apply Online?
You can use the online application process if you meet the following requirements:
- You are at least age 18
- You have a medical condition that prevents you from working, and the condition is terminal or expected to last for 12 months or longer
- You are not receiving benefits already
- You have not had a benefits application denied within the past 60 days (then you would follow the online appeal process)
Information to Have on Hand
The application for benefits requires a significant amount of information. Before you start the process, you should gather information about the following:
Your personal information – This can include your birthplace and date, Social Security number, as well as the same information for your spouse and children. Also have your bank account information handy.
Your work history – They will want to know your recent work history and income, including private employers, military service, workers’ compensation, public employment, and more. The information they want can reach back 15 years or more, so be prepared with as much work history as possible.
Your medical condition – You will need to include detailed information about your illness, injury, or other condition that keeps you from working. The application requires records of your treatment, including dates and patient numbers, medications that you take, medical tests you underwent, as well as contact information for someone who can be a contact regarding your condition.
What Documents Do You Need?
You might have to submit copies of many types of documents, including:
- Proof of foreign birth or your U.S. birth certificate
- Proof of United States citizenship or lawful permanent residency
- Tax returns for self-employment or W-2s
- Military discharge papers
- Proof of any other benefits or awards you are receiving
- Evidence of medical diagnosis, test results, and other doctor records
Some of these documents can be provided as copies, but others might need to be presented in their original form, so you might need to take them to an appointment at an SSA office.
Benefits of Online Applications
There are several advantages to applying for Social Security disability benefits online. You do not have to wait for an SSA appointment, which can be scheduled pretty far in the future. You can start and stop the application as needed if you need to gather additional information or documents. And you can complete the application right from the comfort of your home if it is difficult to travel with your medical condition or simply due to the pandemic precautions.