An injury or illness that keeps you from working does not have to cause financial devastation as well. For many who are unable to continue working because of a health condition, the Social Security Administration’s Disability Insurance provides a steady income to support them, allowing them to continue paying their bills and to seek the medical treatment they need. If you have a medical condition that will keep you from gainful employment for at least one year, you may want to apply for disability as soon as possible.
The reason for the rush is the wait. One of the most frustrating aspects of Social Security Disability is the amount of time it takes to finally begin receiving your benefits. Unlike other insurance benefits, such as unemployment or workers’ compensation, you will not begin receiving disability checks right away.
Why the long wait?
The disability program must constantly deal with fraud. Countless people in Minnesota and across the country who do not deserve disability benefits attempt to rob the program of funds earmarked for people like you who really need them. For this reason, the process for qualifying for disability can be quite long. When you apply, the SSA will first verify that you have a qualifying condition or that your symptoms qualify as a disability. You may expect to do any of the following:
- Apply for benefits either in person or online, which minimizes the risk of errors on your application.
- Gather and submit as much medical evidence as you can to support your claim of having a disabling condition.
- Meet with an SSA agent in person or by phone to discuss your application.
- Submit to a medical exam by an SSA-approved doctor.
- Wait for the SSA to make its decision.
Unless you have a condition that qualifies you for Compassionate Allowance, you can expect to wait several months to learn if the SSA has approved your application. Conditions qualifying for Compassionate Allowance, such as a fast-moving cancer or degenerative disease, are automatically flagged by the SSA’s computers and receive expedited approval in just a few weeks.
After the SSA decides
If the SSA approves your application for disability, you will have another few months to wait before your check arrives. However, your first check may include a backdated amount for the time you waited. Unfortunately, more than half of all first-time applicants do not get approval and must go through the appeals process, which is faster than previous phases but more complex with much more on the line.