What Forms Do I Need to Apply and Appeal a Social Security Disability Claim?

What Forms Do I Need to Apply and Appeal a Social Security Disability Claim?

Nobody plans on having their working years cut short by serious health problems.

If it happens to you, it can be devastating personally and financially.

The Social Security system has a program meant to help you stay on stable ground when medical problems force you from work — Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

In 2017, 10.6 million people receive benefits through this program. They receive a combined $11 billion to help cover basic household expenses.

Like with a lot of government programs, though, applying is complicated. It involves filling out a lot of forms.

Then most people get denied when they first apply.

So that means filling out more forms when you appeal.

We help people with this all the time at our Washington, D.C., disability advocacy firm.

So we compiled this quick guide to the basic forms you’ll encounter when applying and appealing for Social Security Disability benefits.

Applying — The Adult Disability Report

When you’re first applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, this form — called Form SSA-3368 — is where you explain the health problems that make it impossible for you to work.

This starts off your Social Security Disability claim.

Here’s what you include on this form:

· The date when your medical problem began

· The symptoms you’re experiencing

· Your medical history

· Details of the medical treatment you’ve received

· Names of doctors who treated you

· List of medical facilities where you’ve gone for treatment

· An explanation of how your health condition prevents you from working

· An explanation of why you cannot perform past jobs or other jobs you otherwise would be qualified to hold

It’s important to double-check points such as contact information for your doctors and addresses of the medical offices where you went for treatment.

Missing some items or getting information wrong could delay your benefits for months.

But if your information is accurate and complete, the Social Security claims examiner who reviews your case will get a clear idea of your situation.

And your claim will move more quickly through the system.

Applying — The Work History Report

Here’s where you’ll explain your past jobs. This is central to your SSDI application because you qualify for benefits based in part on work history.

You have to have worked enough and paid enough into the Social Security system through taxes deducted from your paychecks.

The timeframe this form covers is the 15 years before health problems forced you out of work.

A big part of this form — which is called Form SSA-3369 — is assessing how physically demanding your work has been.

This is the information you give in this report:

· Your job titles

· Dates you held each job

· Tasks you performed

· Supervisory roles you held

· How much weight you lifted in each job

· How long you had to stand in each job

· How much you walked, climbed, stooped, kneeled or crawled in each job

Appealing — The Disability Report

When you already applied but you were denied, this form is where you start your appeal.

Getting denied is extremely common. In fact, most people are denied when they first apply for benefits. It’s often during appeals when they get a better result.

This form is called SSA-3441, or the “Disability Report — Appeal.”

The information you provide here is similar to what you include on your Adult Disability Report when you first apply, but with some updates:

· Description of your health problems

· An accounting of your medical records

· Names of doctors or other health care providers you’ve seen

· Names of hospitals and clinics where you’ve gone

· List of medications you’ve taken

· Description of medical tests you’ve received

· The latest on your work status

· The latest on your daily activities

Appealing — Claimant’s Recent Medical Treatment

For this part of your appeals documents, called HA-4631, you go into more detail on the medical care you’ve received since your initial application.

Medical evidence is always the cornerstone of your case.

Here’s what you’ll need to include:

· Every doctor you’ve seen

· Dates when you received treatment

· If you were hospitalized because of your disability, name and address of the hospital

· Reasons you were hospitalized

· Details of treatment you received in the hospital

Appealing — Claimant’s Work Background

Remember: In addition to medical records, your work history is crucial to winning Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

Social Security will look at your job experience, compared with your health problems, to determine whether you could return to your past work — or adjust to a new type of work.

When you appeal, you refresh the record on your work experience using this form.

It’s called “Claimant’s Work Background,” and it includes:

· Dates of employment

· Names and locations of your employers

· Duties you performed in each job

Appealing — Hearing Request

If Social Security denies your benefits a second time after you ask for a reconsideration, your next step is to ask for a hearing with an administrative law judge.

Your hearing is a key moment in your case. It might be your only chance to argue your need for benefits face-to-face with a decision-maker at Social Security.

Form HA-4486 — “Claimant’s Statement When Request for Hearing is Filed and the Issue is Disability” — aims to get an update on your health and ability to work:

· Has your health changed for better or worse?

· How have your daily activities changed?

· What new medical treatment have you received?

When you get further into the hearing process, you’ll need to build a case for the judge.

You’ll have more details to organize and more forms to file.

An experienced disability advocate can help you plan your arguments, prepare you to testify and question medical and employment experts that Social Security might call to testify about you.

And an advocate can help you fill out these and many other forms you may encounter, easing your process of applying — and appealing — for benefits that could get your life back on track after the upheaval of a disability.

Andrew Mathis is an Accredited Disability Representative with Mathis & Mathis Disability Advocates in the Washington, D.C., metro area. He has 25 years of experience helping people win Social Security Disability benefits.