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SSDI what do I do first?

Are there steps to take before applying for SSDI?


If you are considering filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) no doubt you have a lot of questions and forget trying to get the Social Security Administration (SSA) on the phone for answers.

There are over 3 million applicants for SSDI and SSI each year and sitting back and waiting for answers will not get you the benefits you need. So what do you do? How do you get started? There are several basic steps you need to take BEFORE you even consider whether disability benefits are right for you.


What do I do first?


The very first step, one which many claimants fail to do, is find out whether or not you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. SSDI is not like SSA retirement. It is not an entitlement program and the benefits are not sitting there waiting for you to claim them whenever you want. They are very hard to get and most claimants are denied the first time they apply.

To qualify for SSDI you will need to prove the following:

  1. You have a severe condition.

  2. Your condition will last at least 12 continuous months or will result in your death.

  3. You have worked and paid into the SSA system and you have enough work credits to be considered insured by the SSA.

  4. You are not currently working and performing what the SSA considers substantial gainful activity.

  5. You cannot be retrained for new work.


Many claimants apply for benefits even if their condition will only last a few months or they apply while they are working. If you do not meet the conditions outlined above you are simply wasting your time. You will be denied SSDI.

Getting great medical care is key to a great case


Claimants must also get good medical care. The SSA will not provide medical care for you. Find a doctor and begin to gather medical evidence. If you cannot afford to see a doctor and you have no medical evidence that you are disabled it will be very tough to win SSDI benefits.

The SSA will send you to a consultative examiner if they do not have enough information to determine you are disabled, but these examinations are traditionally not helpful to most claimants.

How can I speed up my SSDI case?


After you apply for SSDI, assuming you meet the nonmedical requirements, the SSA will request your medical records. Unfortunately, this is where the waiting can really begin.

Is there anything you can do to expedite your case? If you have copies of your medical records you can talk to the SSA to see if sending them would be helpful. This is not required, but it may be one way to expedite your case.

Unfortunately, there are not too many ways to speed up your disability case. Hiring a lawyer wonÂ’t allow your case to be moved to the front of the line either. Patience is needed throughout the entire process.

Bottom Line


If you have not gotten good medical care and you do not know or understand the requirements for the SSDI program than you have some work to do BEFORE you apply for SSDI benefits.
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