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Applications for Social Security Disability Reach 2.6 Million
Date:1/30/2009

log">Backlog."

1.   Determine eligibility. To be eligible for benefits, claimants must have been disabled before reaching full retirement age (65-67) and meet the Social Security Administration's definition of disabled, which generally means being unable to work due to a medically determinable mental or physical impairment expected to result in death or last for at least 12 months. Individuals must be under age 65 and also have worked and paid into the program for five of the last 10 years. (Obtain a free evaluation to determine eligibility here.)

2.   File immediately. If an initial claim is denied, Allsup notes the wait time for an appeals hearing decision now takes an average of 514 days. There is no time to lose.

3.   Obtain doctor's support. Claimants need written medical confirmation of their qualifying conditions when they apply. According to Allsup, not having a doctor's support when filing could significantly impact one's ability to secure disability benefits.

4.   Get help. Filing for disability benefits is a complicated process akin to preparing a difficult income tax return. Allsup emphasizes that the earlier applicants seek help, the more support they can get to help put them back on the right track.

5.   Prepare an accurate medical record. A comprehensive factual record is required to convince the government to provide benefits.

6.   Establish your work history. Compile records of dates and tenu
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