How to apply for disability during COVID-19
COVID-19 makes everything more difficult, and that includes applying for Social Security disability if you planned to apply in person. Social Security offices have been closed since March 2020, and - as of late September - have yet to open back up.
Nevertheless, if you have become disabled and expect to remain disabled for at least 12 months, you should consider applying today. Benefits are available for the disabled who have either a sufficient work history, or very limited income and assets.
Apply for disability online or by phone.
With the social security office closed to the public, you’ll need to apply either online or by phone. Although either system can get you approved for disability, Disability Alabama prefers the online system. Though we recommend using a lawyer to help with the process, if you want to go ahead and get started you can apply here.
If you would rather, you can apply with Social Security by phone using their toll-free number 1-800-772-1213. When you call they will set you up with an appointment to take your application at a future date.
What do I need to apply for disability?
You’re going to need a lot of information for your disability application. A lawyer will have you fill out some paperwork on your medical and work history ahead of time and help explain the question to you. They’ll also want to know what you can or can’t do on a daily basis.
However, if you’re going through the process on your own, check out the SSA’s disability starter kit. If you’re a checklist person, use the SSA’s online application checklist to get ready.
How long will it take to get a decision?
If this is your initial application, you’ll probably get a decision in three to four months. At later stages in the process: reconsiderations, administrative judge hearings, appeals council, and federal court - the wait can get significantly longer. In 2019, the median time to fully resolve a disability claim was 509 days!
If Social Security denies your application be sure to apply within the time stated on your denial letter. If you miss your appeal deadline you can still appeal but only if you can show good cause for missing the deadline.
What’s the best way to apply?
- The best practice is to find a lawyer in your state that you can trust. While you might be able to win your claim on your own, something like 70% of claims are denied at first. A lawyer can help you avoid mistakes that may cost you down the line, like stray comments on the statement of daily activities.
- Once you’ve found someone to meet with, tell them about all your medical issues - physical and emotional. While one impairment may not qualify you for disability, a combination of diagnosed mental and physical conditions when added together may make you eligible.
- Get copies of you medical records. Don’t rely on Social Security to get them for you.
If you’re in Alabama, we want to help you. Ask us how we can help with your disability claim.
Also, use Disability Alabama’s disability calculator for an estimate of your benefit. While you do not need any special information to complete the calculation you may want to take a moment to think about your average yearly income and current household income before using the disability calculator