Pulling Back the Curtain on the Disability Process: The DisabiliTEA with Anjel Burgess

The Social Security Disability process can often feel like navigating a maze shrouded in mystery. Anjel Burgess, in her podcast The DisabiliTEA, aims to demystify this journey, offering clarity and guidance for those embarking on or currently navigating the disability process. This blog will explore key insights shared in the podcast, providing a clearer understanding of what to expect and how to prepare for your  disability application.

Understanding the Social Security Disability Application Process

The Social Security Disability application process begins with the initial application, which requires thorough preparation and detailed information about your medical history, treatments, medications, work history, and education. This is a critical stage where the foundation of your claim is laid.

Essential Preparations for Your Application

To streamline the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), it’s crucial to prepare your application meticulously. Here’s how to enhance your preparation:

Medical Information:

  • Compile a comprehensive list of all healthcare providers, including specialists, therapists, and other medical professionals who have contributed to your care.
  • Gather documentation for all treatment dates, diagnoses, and medical interventions. This includes hospital admissions, outpatient services, and any rehabilitative therapies.
  • List all current medications, dosages, and the details of the prescription healthcare provider. Highlight how these medications impact your symptoms or condition.

Work History:

  • Prepare a detailed resume that lists your work history for the past five years, including job titles and the duration of employment and describes the nature of your work.
  • Include information about any accommodations made by your employer to help you perform your job despite your disability.
  • Document unemployment or part-time work periods in the past five years, especially if they relate to your disability, to provide a complete picture of your employment history.
  • For recent graduates or students, include information about educational or vocational training, including accommodations or modifications made due to your disability.

Financial Information (for SSI applicants):

  • Compile a list of all financial assets, including savings accounts, retirement accounts, and other investments. Remember, the SSA has strict limits on resources for SSI eligibility. If you are married, your spouse’s income and assets may impact your eligibility or SSI.
  • Keep records of any significant financial changes leading up to your application, such as the sale of a property or vehicle, which may temporarily affect your eligibility.
  • Consider seeking advice from anattorney specializing in disability benefits to navigate how to legally manage your assets without jeopardizing SSI eligibility.

The Eligibility Check

Once your application is submitted, the SSA conducts an eligibility check to confirm you meet the basic requirements for the SSDI or SSI programs. This involves verifying your work credits for SSDI or assessing your financial resources for SSI. Failure to meet these criteria can lead to an early denial.

Gathering and Reviewing Medical Evidence

Your application then moves to Disability Determination Services, where an adjudicator requests and reviews medical records from your healthcare providers. This stage is pivotal, as the SSA uses this information to understand your disability and how it impacts your ability to work. Sometimes, an independent medical evaluation may be requested to gather additional insights.

The Decision Process

After reviewing all gathered evidence, the SSA makes a decision. If favorable, you’ll be awarded disability benefits. If denied, you have the opportunity to appeal. This process, from reconsideration to an administrative law judge hearing, allows you to provide additional evidence and, importantly, to share your personal experience with disability directly.

Hearings and Appeals

Hearings before an administrative law judge offer a critical opportunity to present your case in detail. With options for telephone, video, or in-person hearings, you can choose the format that best suits your needs and comfort level. Thanks to the personal touch this stage allows, many find success in their disability claims here.

Protecting Your Privacy

Throughout this process, your personal information remains protected and accessible only to those directly involved in evaluating your claim. This ensures the confidentiality and security of your sensitive data.

How Burgess & Christensen Can Help

Navigating the disability process can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Burgess & Christensen assists adults and children nationwide with their Social Security disability benefits. From preparing your initial application to representing you at hearings, our team is here to guide you every step of the way.

For more information or to discuss your specific situation, contact Burgess & Christensen at 770-422-8111 or online. Let our experience and compassion help you secure the benefits you need and deserve.