If you have suffered a debilitating injury or medical diagnosis and cannot work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. But proving your disability will require you meet strict criteria, file a boatload of documentation and perhaps take two or three runs at attaining approval before claiming victory.

What are the requirements for SSD qualification?

To qualify for SSD benefits, you must:

  • Have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from performing gainful activity, and that is expected to last at least one year or result in death
  • Have worked in jobs covered by Social Security for a required number of quarters

How do I document my disability?

You may file a SSD claim online or file a claim in person at your local Social Security office.  Documentation required includes:

  • Personal information including Social Security number and birth certificate
  • Contact information for doctors, hospitals and medical personnel who have treated you
  • Dates of your healthcare appointments related to this condition
  • Your prescription information
  • Your medical records and lab results related to this condition
  • A summary of your work history (the last five jobs you’ve held)
  • Your most recent Form W-2 earnings statement (one from each of your employers) or your tax return (if you’re self-employed); photocopies of these documents are acceptable
  • Your military discharge papers, such as DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty); photocopies of these papers are acceptable
  • Information on other disability claims filed with insurance or workers’ compensation

What are my chances of approval?

More than 50 percent of SSD claims are denied after the initial application. Requests for reconsideration are common. If an appeal is denied, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge. Persistence is required in most cases.

If you are unable to work because of a disability, contact an experienced SSD attorney at Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A. We are located in Cleveland and we are eager to assist you.