Social Security Disability Expert Explains How To Apply for SSDI Benefits

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More people making first applications can benefit from choosing representation early in the process

Your Allsup representative can help you determine if you are likely to qualify and also help you figure out when it makes sense to apply, especially if you have recently quit working.

On average, about 200,000 people apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits each month. Many experience difficulties, according to Allsup, which has helped tens of thousands of Americans nationwide to receive their SSDI benefits. The SSDI application process is complex and requires a significant amount of paperwork and documentation to complete.

“It’s possible to underestimate the length of time this process will take and the complexity required to apply, document and receive Social Security disability benefits,” said Edward Swierczek, Allsup senior claimant representative.

There are a number of steps involved in the application process and it begins with establishing that someone is eligible for benefits as a result of their work history. “Simply stated, Social Security Disability Insurance is an insurance program,” Swierczek explained. “You must be insured in order to file a claim for benefits, and Allsup representatives can help you determine your eligibility at no cost.”

SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that operates separately from the retirement and SSI programs. SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a severe disability (injury, illness or condition) that is expected to last for at least 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible.

Below, Allsup provides answers to common questions individuals have about Social Security Disability Insurance benefits:

How do I know if I’m eligible for SSDI benefits?
There are several factors to consider. First, you must be insured. Generally, this means you have worked and paid into the program through payroll taxes (FICA taxes) for five of the last 10 years. You also must have been disabled before you reach your full retirement age (65-67). In addition, you must meet Social Security’s definition of disability. In general terms, you must be unable to work because of a verifiable mental and/or physical impairment expected to last 12 months or longer, or result in death.

If you are uncertain whether you are eligible for SSDI benefits and should apply, Allsup offers a free Social Security disability evaluation. Call the Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276.

When should I apply for SSDI benefits?
A common mistake people make is waiting too long to apply for Social Security disability benefits. If you have a severe or permanent disability that will keep you from working for 12 months or longer, or is terminal, then you should apply for SSDI benefits immediately upon stopping work.

There is no requirement to wait a certain time period before applying. The SSDI process can take government claims examiners several months just to review claimants’ initial applications. In some cases, review of your SSDI application and the disability appeal process can take two or more years. “You should begin sooner, rather than waiting too long,” Swierczek said. “Your Allsup representative can help you determine if you are likely to qualify and also help you figure out when it makes sense to apply, especially if you have recently quit working.”

Why should I get a representative for SSDI benefits?
A representative like Allsup can help you find out before you apply if you are likely to qualify for SSDI benefits. In addition, you are more likely to get your SSDI benefits faster. Allsup is able to help more customers receive their SSDI awards with their initial applications (55 percent compared to 35 percent national average). You can avoid waiting in Social Security telephone and office lines. Your representative also assists with paper work, compiling medical documentation and work history. Allsup also does not charge any fees unless someone’s SSDI claim is awarded.

In addition, Allsup can help applicants anytime throughout the SSDI process, whether they’ve just applied or been denied. “You may not realize that you can have a representative when you first apply,” Swierczek said. “Allsup representatives work hard to ensure you receive your Social Security benefits as quickly as possible, and you may be able to avoid the SSA’s disability appeal process.”

What should I do if I’ve already been denied benefits?
The Social Security Administration denies two-thirds of all initial applications. For thousands of people who have already attempted their SSDI application on their own, the denial is frustrating. But they still have the opportunity to get representation. If your SSDI application has reached the hearing level, an experienced Allsup representative will prepare you for and represent you at the hearing, no matter where you live.

For more information about a disability appeal or applying for SSDI, visit To reach someone directly, contact the Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276.

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs nearly 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis.


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Rebecca Ray
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