Seeing delays with your disability case? It’s normal to feel concerned, but there is likely no need to worry. If you have applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) benefits and you don’t feel like the agency is taking any action on your application, there may be several reasons why.
Filing Your Initial Application
When you apply for Social Security disability benefits – either online, by phone, or in your local office, your claim is first received by the SSA ‘field office’ or ‘district office’ closest to you. This is the local Social Security office that would typically assist you in everyday Social Security needs like replacing a Social Security card or changing your name. Field offices are also responsible for processing your paperwork when you file a claim for Disability Benefits. It all starts at the field office. Other aspects of your case are handled by other offices within SSA, like Disability Determination Services (DDS) or the Office of Hearing Operations (OHO). DDS is where the agency collects and reviews your medical records and the other evidence that you have submitted in your case. They issue a medical decision about your disabilities.
Before a claim can be sent to DDS for a medical review, your local field office will verify that you meet all of Social Security’s technical requirements for applying. Often after an application is received, they will require more information from you before they can send your claim off and a medical decision can be made. If your claim is held up at the field office, it could be for a few reasons. To help you avoid a disability claim stuck at the Field office level for too long, here are a few examples of forms you may receive from Social Security in the first few weeks of your claim, and why they are so important.
Verifying Your Application Summary
If you filed an application online with an attorney, representative, or any other third party, Social Security would require you to sign a summary of the application that was submitted on your behalf. They do this for many reasons, primarily to verify that the application was done with your permission, and to give you an opportunity to make corrections. The third-party application summary is needed to begin non-medical and medical determinations on your case; they will not take any action on your application until they receive this. In fact, you don’t even have an application submitted without returning this paperwork! You should immediately review the summary for errors and then sign the summary with your pen-to-paper ink signature and return the form to SSA in the envelope they provide. For an application under Title II such as SSD, you will have 6 months to sign and certify the application, and for an SSI application, you will have 2 months to sign and certify the application before it closes out. However, you must act as soon as possible, as the SSA needs this paperwork to process your claim and move your case forward.
Completing Your Work Activity Report
If Social Security needs clarification on when you stopped working or when you made changes in your work activity, they will send you this form. There are two versions of this form; one for employees (Form SSA-821-BK), and one for self-employed workers (Form SSA-820-BK). SSA has access to your pay data available through the IRS. They will know how much you were paid as a W-2 employee or how much you claimed in self-employment income, if any. The Work Activity Report will help SSA determine when you became disabled by looking at your earnings and any changes in your earnings because of your conditions. This matters because it affects when SSA will start your benefits. Filling it out thoroughly may result in more money for you in the long run.
Obtaining Authorization Forms
Social Security will not be able to award you benefits unless they have permission to obtain your employment and medical information, so they will ask you to sign and return release forms. They have two separate forms they may require you to sign in order to give that permission; Form SSA-827-BK, Authorization to Disclose Information, and Form SSA-8240-BK, Authorization to Obtain Wage and Employment Information from Payroll Data Providers. They may allow you to give these permissions verbally, but you are entitled to a copy of the forms. You can revoke your consent at any time throughout the process but know that doing so would likely affect your claim. Just like with the application summary and the work activity reports, you will need to return this form for your application to process. SSA can issue a denial claiming that you are not cooperating with them if you fail to return this paperwork. If you received paperwork for SSA and you lost it, you can refer to our Common Forms page.
We Have What It Takes to Get Through to the SSA. Contact Us Today.
If you have recently become disabled and are struggling to get through to the SSA, you are not alone. The claims process can be confusing and discouraging, as there are several moving parts throughout each phase. At Kerr Robichaux & Carroll, no disability case is too tough for our dedicated SSD attorneys to take on.
With our track record of winning our clients life-changing benefits, we’ve seen the difference it makes in their lives firsthand. This is what drives us to advocate for the disabled community of the Pacific Northwest and protect their rights throughout the disability claims process. From helping fill out forms to communicating with the SSA, we treat each case with care and compassion for our clients’ security, stability, and peace of mind.
Submit a contact form below or give our office a call at 503-255-9092 for a free case evaluation today.