If you are disabled and need to know how to apply for long term disability, you first must determine whether to apply for disability through the Social Security Administration, or whether to apply for disability through a private insurer if you have your own disability insurance. In some cases, you will be eligible for benefits through both the SSA and through a private insurer’s disability policy.
Applying for Social Security Benefits
The SSA offers disability benefits to qualified individuals who are sufficiently disabled. Generally, this means you must have worked for a minimum amount of time and that your disability must preclude you from working at your existing job and from learning to or being able to work at another job.
The work requirements differ by how old you are. If you become disabled in the four months before your 24th birthday or in the month where you turn 24, you must have worked for at least 1.5 years prior to becoming disabled. If you are disabled between ages 24 and 31, you must have worked for at least ½ of the period between your 24th birthday and your current age. If you become disabled after your 31st birthday, then you must have worked for at least 5 of the 10 years before your disability.
Your disability must also be sufficiently severe. This means it needs to be either listed in the SSA’s blue book of disabilities or you must be able to prove, with medical evidence, that it inhibits your functioning and prevents you from working. The disability must also either have lasted a year, be expected to last a year, or be expected to lead to death.
Completing Your Application
If you meet the criteria to apply for long term disability through the SSA, then you must submit an application with appropriate medical documentation. The application is available from your local department of social security or online through the SSA website.
You will have to submit medical documentation with your application, including medical records and statements from a physician. You will also need to submit any other proof required or requested by the SSA: this may mean you need to go to an interview or undergo a medical exam by an SSA-approved physician.
Applying for Benefits From A Private Insurer
In addition to, or instead of, benefits from the SSA, you may have a private long term disability policy. This may be a policy you purchased yourself or one your employer has purchased for you.
In order to know how to apply for long term disability benefits from a private insurer, you need to read the language of your policy. It will specify what disabilities are covered and what the claims handling procedure is.
Like applying for long term disability benefits through the SSA, you will generally need to prove that your disability is severe and that it prevents you from working.
Getting Legal Help
Whether you opt to apply for coverage from Social Security, from a disability insurer, or both, you should consult with an experienced disability rights attorney who can help. An attorney can explain to you your options for recovering payments for disability, and can help you submit an application that maximizes your chances of your claim being approved.