A Guest Post by Donna Fitzgerald
As a caregiver, it’s likely you’ve helped to fill out and assisted with mountains of important paperwork. If you are caring for a loved one or have recently become employed to help care for someone with a debilitating medical condition, there’s a good chance that he or she is no longer able to work due to his or her health.
When an individual is diagnosed with a mental or physical health condition that is expected to last for at least a year and interferes with his or her ability to work, he or she may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits (SSD) and as a caregiver, it may be part of your job to help him or her apply for benefits. Here are some things you should know about SSD benefits and some helpful tips when helping file:
Although millions of Americans apply for SSD benefits every year, many are unaware that the process can be lengthy and often times complicated. Anyone who may be eligible to receive benefits should apply as soon as possible as the Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that a qualifying individual can not receive benefits until the sixth full month of a disability. Additionally, it may take up to a couple of months to hear back from SSA and whether or not an individual is deemed eligible to receive benefits. Finally (and unfortunately), about two thirds of first time applicants are denied, which is important to keep in mind. However, applicants have the opportunity to (and should) appeal their denial, but only have about two months to do so, therefore it’s important to be organized.
While there’s never a guarantee that an applicant will receive SSD benefits upon his or her first try, one of the best ways to be deemed eligible is by submitting accurate and detailed information about medical or employment history. As a caregiver, who most likely attends important medical appointments with the individual seeking SSD benefits, it’s a good idea to take detailed notes and fill in any gaps by asking questions that aren’t being asked or answered, but appear to be pertinent information for the SSD application.
Once you have helped to organize and gather all the important and relevant information, such as the residual functional capacity form, you can assist with the online application process. It’s important to remember that even if you are the preparer (and you may have to answer some questions about yourself) that the applicant signs his or her name. Before you submit the application, make sure it has been reviewed carefully and that no information is left blank or unfinished. Additionally, make copies of all information you send to SSA and take careful and detailed notes of any conversations that took place with the SSA during the application process.
If, at any point in the application process, things become confusing or you feel like it’s beyond your ability to assist, you can help your applicant set up an appointment with someone at SSA or even consult with a lawyer who specializes in SSD benefits.