Benefits: Tips to Remember when Applying for SSA Benefit

Authored By: Legal Aid of North Carolina

Quick Facts


  • Make sure SSA knows about ALL your disabilities: At the time you apply for Social Security benefits, be very sure to tell Social Security about ALL the reasons why you cannot work—all physical conditions and mental conditions which make you unable to work should be included on the application.

  • Find out who your disability worker is: You can find out who your DDS worker is by calling 1-888-422-4394. You can talk to your worker and make sure they have all the proper information about you. You should respond as promptly as you can when your worker requests information from you.

  • Make sure the disability worker gets ALL your medical records from ALL sources for EACH of your disabilities. Ask the person who took your application for SSI and/or SSDI to give you a copy of all the information you gave them about your medical treatment. You can use this information to make sure that your DDS worker gets all the medical records from all your treating sources.

  • Special doctors’ exams and tests: If you are asked by your DDS worker to go for a special doctor’s exam, be sure you keep the appointment or that you let them know in advance if possible why you cannot. If you missed your appointment, call your worker and ask that the exam be rescheduled.

  • Appoint someone to help you: If you think you will need help with your disability application and you have a friend, relative, counselor or anyone you trust and who is willing to help you, have that person appointed as your Representative. You can do this by filling out an Appointment of Representative form at SSA. Your representative, who does not need to be a lawyer, will get copies of all mail sent to you and will be able to discuss your case with anyone at the Social Security office or at the Disability Determination Services office. If your application is turned down, you should seriously consider getting a lawyer or an experienced non-attorney to represent you. You can hire someone who agrees not to charge you unless you are approved.

  • Are you Homeless? If you are homeless, make sure Social Security knows it. Special assistance is offered because Social Security understands the difficulties you may have in getting mail, or having to change mailing addresses often, etc. You should make sure to establish a reliable mailing address and check that address often to see if you have mail. You should check with the local shelters to see if they can accept mail for you.

  • If you don’t live at your mailing address: If your mailing address differs from your residence address or you are homeless, be sure to tell Social Security at the time you apply where you actually live so they can schedule any doctor’s appointments in zip codes most convenient for you whenever they can.

  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR): Don’t wait until you have been denied to think about a referral to VR. The Counselors at VR are trained to assist people with limitations return to employment. If VR is not successful, then this can be evidence that there is no work that you can do despite the best efforts of VR experts. It may be appropriate to call the VR office to be evaluated for services at the same time Social Security is processing your SSI and/or SSDI application is taken.

  • *Remember, if you are denied SSD and/or SSI you have 60 days to ask for an appeal. Contact Social Security immediately if you are denied. If you do not appeal on time, you may have to start the entire process over.



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Last Review and Update: Jun 26, 2012
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