How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits in Richmond

 

Your Guide to Applying for SSDI Benefits and SSI in Richmond, VA

 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is one of the largest bureaucracies in the world. Navigating its process for applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is complicated.

 

This article is your guide to when and how to apply for SSD benefits in Richmond, Virginia. You can use this guide if you are applying for SSDI benefits, SSI, or both types of claims. If you have a question about the SSD application process or want help with your pending disability insurance claim, contact Richmond disability attorney Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We serve disabled adults in Richmond, Petersburg, Newport News, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg, Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and surrounding areas.

 

When to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

 

Our firm has represented thousands of disabled adults in claims for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). And one thing that many of our clients have in common is that they would rather not file an application for disability insurance benefits.

 

Most people we talk to would rather be working than having to rely on SSDI benefits or SSI. They pride themselves on having worked hard for years. And want to continue to try to push through their pain and other symptoms – even though their body can no longer handle it. Because of this many people delay filing their claim. They don’t know if the time is right or if they have a good chance of proving they’re disabled.

 

Other people delay filing a claim because they are still working. They are missing time from work because of their health, or have had to accept lower wages because they can’t do their former job as well as they once did, but they continue to try to work. And because of this they’re unsure if their lower wages or part-time work will keep them from receiving SSDI or SSI.

 

The SSDI process can take a long time. The initial application often takes three to six months to complete. And if your initial application for disability benefits is denied (roughly two-thirds of initial claims are), you will likely need to go through the reconsideration and disability hearing levels to get approved. The entire process can take two to four years to complete.

 

 

Because of how long the process takes, many claimants seeking Social Security Disability and SSI benefits find themselves under great financial stress. So if you’re unable to work because of a physical or mental disability then you should file when you become eligible to do so.

 

We recommend that you wait until you’ve been unable to work for at least three months before you file your application for SSD benefits. This is because of the Social Security Act’s definition of disability. To receive SSDI benefits, you must prove that your physical or mental medical impairments will result in death or make you unable to work for at least 12 months or more. If you file for disability insurance benefits too early, the SSA may deny your claim on the basis that your physical and mental condition could improve before you reach the 1-year mark.

 

You should not wait until your medical conditions leave you bedridden or unable to leave the house to file for SSD benefits. Because of how long the disability process takes, your medical conditions may worsen between the date you file your initial application and the date of your hearing. You are allowed to submit new evidence about your health up through the date of the hearing.

 

Further, waiting to file for disability can affect the amount of back pay you receive. If your initial application is denied but you get approved at the reconsideration, hearing, or Appeals Council level, then you may receive benefits back to the original filing date for SSI claims or the alleged onset date of disability for SSDI claims. As disability attorneys in Richmond we’ve helped many clients get disability benefits going back more than three years.

 

Below are some general rules to help you determine when to file your application for Social Security Disability benefits in Richmond, VA:

 

  • Is the medical condition so severe that it impacts your ability to complete activities that are normal for others your age? In other words, is the medical condition causing significant problems at work, home, or school? The SSA will answer this question by looking at the medical evidence, letters from friends, family, and former employers, and by reviewing reports that you complete. The bar for proving a severe medical impairment is low. Most adults and children will meet it.

 

  • Has your medical condition lasted for at least one full year? If not, is it expected to last for at least one full year? If the answer to both questions is no, then the SSA will deny your claim no matter how disabled you are. Even if you had a severe disability that kept you out of work for several months, your claim will be denied if you were able to return to work, or were released to return to work, within a few months of the event. We see this happen in many workers compensation cases. The SSA’s definition of disability includes a duration requirement – and that duration is one year.

 

  • If you have a severe physical or mental impairment that has lasted for at least 12 months, has it prevented you from performing normal daily activities that are appropriate given your age? That is, has your disability kept you from functioning at work if you are an adult, or at school if you are a child? This is why you must provide detailed forms to the SSA.

 

You should file a claim for SSDI or SSI immediately if you answer yes to these questions.

 

What Should I Do Before I Apply for Social Security Disability?

 

Like most things in life, preparation is important in your claim for SSDI benefits or SSI.

 

You can increase your chance of success by taking action before you even apply for Social Security Disability benefits in Virginia. Keep detailed and thorough records that show you have a medical condition or injury that affects your ability to work full time and to perform daily activities. Then give this information to the SSA when you file your claim so that you have supportive evidence.

 

What Do I Need to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits in Richmond, VA?

 

When you file your initial application for disability benefits, the SSA will ask you to provide a lot of information and documents about your identity, medical conditions, work history, and education. It’s important that you gather this information before you file your application online or attend an in-person conference to complete the disability application. The SSDI process is already long and complicated. If the SSA has to wait on additional information it may take several more months to process your claim.

 

The SSA will require the same information regardless of whether you’re applying for SSDI benefits or SSI. At a minimum you should provide Social Security with:

 

  • Your Social Security number, birth certificate, and a photo id. This information is used to make sure you are who you say you are, to determine your age, and to pull your earnings record to determine your eligibility for SSDI. If you are filing for disability based on another person’s earnings records, which is what happens when you are seeking widow’s disability benefits, then you need that person’s Social Security number and birth certificate too.

 

  • The Social Security numbers of your spouse and children. If you’re approved for disability benefits then your spouse and dependent children may be entitled to auxiliary benefits. These benefits increase the cash payment that you receive each month.

 

  • Contact information for all the health care providers you have treated with. You should provide the names, addresses, and phone numbers for all doctors, physicians, surgeons, nurses, medical facilities, health care clinics, hospitals, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and therapists that have treated you since at least one year before the date you allege you became disabled. If you’re alleging that your disability is the result of a medical condition that started while you were working in the past (i.e. a hip or knee replacement that got worse over time or a mental health condition that has progressed), then provide contact information for health care providers who have treated you even more than one year prior to the alleged onset date of disability. You should include the dates of treatment and the reason for treatment with each health care provider. The SSA is supposed to request your medical records from these providers free of charge to you.

 

  • A printout from your pharmacy that lists all the prescription medication you have taken the past two years.

 

  • Copies of any medical records and documents in your possession.

 

  • If applicable, a copy of your disability impairment rating from the Veterans Administration. The SSA is supposed to give weight to a finding from the VA that you’re disabled. And having a 100 percent impairment rating from the VA can speed up the SSDI process.

 

  • If applicable, your military discharge papers. If you’re receiving disability or retirement benefits from the military this may show up as earnings on your earnings report. Depending on how much you receive the SSA may deny your claim if it looks like you’re making more than the substantial gainful activity level. By providing your discharge papers you can prove that these “earnings” are not from work that you’re doing currently.

 

  • Paperwork related to any workers compensation claim you have that is pending or that has resolved in the past five years. This serves two purposes. First, the medical records, impairment ratings, and vocational rehabilitation reports from your workers comp claim can help you prove that you’re disabled under the Social Security Act. Second, if your workers compensation settlement documents contain the appropriate language then you can reduce or eliminate any offset that may apply to your SSDI or SSI benefits.

 

  • Your Form W-2 earnings statements from the past three years or a copies of your full income tax returns from the past three years. These documents can help you prove that you meet the non-medical requirements for each disability insurance program.

 

  • Contact information for any health care providers that you are scheduled to see in the future along with the dates of the scheduled appointments.

 

  • Information about all the jobs that you have worked in the last 15 years. This should include the name and address of the employer, your official job title, the number of hours you worked each week, your earnings, and the physical (lifting, pushing, pulling, standing, walking, carrying, sitting, bending, squatting) and mental (stressful, deadlines, supervisory) requirements of each job. We recommend contacting supportive employers who saw you struggling with your health condition and who may be willing to write a supportive letter that provides information about the problems you had on the job.

 

  • Information about your ability to complete activities of daily living. These include your ability to shop, go to the store, complete household chores, interact with others, bathe, groom, and attend social functions.

 

  • Name, address, and telephone number for a friend or family member who can help you with the application or who can serve as your emergency contact if the SSA is unable to reach you.

 

  • The name, address, and telephone number of the Richmond disability lawyer who you have hired to represent you in your claim.

 

The more prepared you are, the better. By having the above information available, you can make sure that a complete application for disability benefits is filed on your behalf.

 

How to Apply for SSD Benefits in Richmond, VA

 

You must complete two reports to apply for Social Security Disability benefits: the Benefits Application form and the Disability Report. You can complete the reports yourself by calling your local Social Security office to make an appointment to file your claim in person or by phone. Or you can complete your claim online.

 

The Disability Report asks for information about your medical condition, health care providers, medications, work history, and educational background.

 

The Disability Report also asks you to explain why you are unable to work. It is important that you provide a detailed explanation. A good explanation is one that explains why you are not only unable to do the last job you had, but also why you are unable to perform any of the jobs you’ve had in the past fifteen years. Remember, you must prove that you’re unable to perform any work done at the substantial gainful activity level during the past fifteen years. It may not be enough to show that you are unable to do your more recent jobs.

 

If your claim is denied at the initial level, you will have to complete another Disability Report when you file your Request for Reconsideration. The same is true if you are denied on reconsideration. So you may have to file three separate Disability Reports during your claim. Don’t get discouraged or forget to do it. Stay focused on what is necessary to get approved so that you can get the benefits you deserve.

 

The SSA mal ask you to complete a Work History Report, also known as Form SSA-3369, when you file for disability benefits. The Work History Report asks you to describe all the jobs you have had in the past 15 years. These are the jobs that the SSA will look at when determining whether you can perform past relevant work.

 

Time and time again we see Social Security claimants make mistakes when completing the Work History Report. The most common mistake: underestimating past job responsibilities. Do not make your job seem less strenuous than it really was. Make sure to include how much you had to lift, stand, sit, walk, stoop, bend, squat, and crawl – even if those activities were done only occasionally. You should include each and every job responsibility to increase your chance of success.

 

Another option is to work with a Richmond disability attorney to apply for SSD benefits. If you choose to hire an attorney to help you with the application process, call us at 804-251-1620. We’ll explain the process to you and collect some information that allows us to file a strong claim for disability insurance benefits on your behalf.

 

Where Can I Apply for Social Security Disability in Virginia?

 

We recommend applying for disability benefits at your local Social Security Administration office, even though it can take days or weeks to get an appointment. After you’ve consulted with an attorney and made the decision to file, call you your local SSA field office to make an in-person appointment to file. If you don’t then you may find yourself standing in a long line and waiting an hour or more.

 

When you arrive at the field office tell the clerk that you have a meeting to apply for disability benefits. You’ll likely be asked to have a seat. The interviewer will call you back to a conference room when he or she is ready.

 

In the conference room the disability interviewer should provide you with an overview of the disability process, ask you questions about your family, work history, education, and medical condition, and help you fill out the forms necessary to complete your application. Your answers to the interviewer’s questions will be put on either a Form SSA-16-BK (Application for Disability Insurance Benefits) or a Form SSA-8000-BK (Application for SSI).

 

We suggest viewing these application forms before your interview so that you have an idea of the questions you will be asked and can prepare. And you should also review the application forms after the interviewer has completed them. The interviewer works for the SSA, not you, so there is a possibility that the form will be inaccurate or not contain all the information that is helpful to your case. This is another reason why you should consult a disability attorney as soon as possible.

 

The SSA claims representative interviewing you will also tell you what additional medical and vocational evidence and information is needed to determine your eligibility for SSDI or SSI. Make sure you write down the name and contact information of your interviewer. You may have questions after you leave and having consistent contact with the same person will be helpful in processing your disability claim efficiently.

 

Before leaving the disability application interview ask for a copy of all the forms you completed and a receipt showing that your application is complete. These documents will be helpful if the SSA later tells you that it has no proof that an application was filed – something that happens all to frequently by mistake.

 

Though the SSA will help you, it is your responsibility to provide evidence to prove your claim. You have the burden of proof. The SSA will tell you what it needs, but you must get it or ask the SSA for help obtaining it. This is why you should be proactive and work on developing the evidence in your case as soon as you file an application.

 

Local Social Security Offices in Virginia Where You Can Apply for Disability Benefits

 

Below is information for some of the local Social Security field offices in Virginia where you can file your claim:

 

Alexandria SSA Office

6295 Edsall Road
Plaza 500, Suite 190
Alexandria, VA 22312
Tel: 703-274-0145

 

Bristol SSA Office

2484 Lee Highway
Bristol, VA 24202
Tel: 866-504-5013

 

Charlottesville SSA Office
1470 Pantops Mtn Pl
Charlottesville, VA 22911
Tel: 866-613-3959

 

Covington SSA Office
1010 S Craig Ave
Covington, VA 24426
Tel: 888-527-9334

 

Culpeper SSA Office
1014 S Main St
Culpeper, VA 22701
Tel: 877-531-4694

 

Danville SSA Office
3295 US Hwy 29
Danville, VA 24540
Tel: 866-331-5398

 

Farmville SSA Office
324 Commerce Road
Farmville, VA 23901
Tel: 866-269-4346

 

Fredericksburg SSA Office
4954 Southpoint Pkwy
Fredericksburg, VA 22407
Tel: 888-759-3919

 

Hampton SSA Office
1521 Hardy Cash Drive
Hampton, VA 23666
Tel: 866-592-2669

 

Midlothian SSA Office
13551 Waterford Place
Midlothian, VA 23112
Tel: 877-773-7231

 

Newport News SSA Office
11706 Jefferson Ave
Newport News, VA 23606
Tel: 757-873-3914

 

Norfolk SSA Office
5850 Lake Herbert Drive
Norfolk, VA 23502
Tel: 866-858-6089

 

Petersburg SSA Office
100 Poplar Dr
Petersburg, VA 23805
Tel: 877-803-6322

 

Portsmouth SSA Office
3305 Airline Blvd
Portsmouth, VA 23701
Tel: 866-593-8851

 

Richmond Downtown SSA Office
1834 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23220
Tel: 804-771-8125

 

Richmond East SSA Office
Interpret Business Ctr
5360 S. Laburnum Ave.
Richmond, VA 23231
Tel: 804-226-3708

 

South Boston SSA Office
2049 Hamilton Blvd
South Boston, VA 24592
Tel: 888-327-1407

 

Staunton SSA Office
1600 N. Coalter St
Staunton, VA 24401
Tel: 888-632-6896

 

Suffolk SSA Office
502 Hillpoint Blvd
Suffolk, VA 23434
Tel: 866-835-7769

 

Virginia Beach SSA Office
2875 Sabre St, Suite 100
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
Tel: 757-498-8726

 

Winchester SSA Office
12 Ricketts Dr
Winchester, VA 22601
Tel: 866-365-3035

 

Applying for Social Security Disability Online

 

In the past you could apply for SSDI benefits online, but not SSI. Fortunately the SSA changed that this year. Now you can complete disability applications for both SSDI and SSI on the internet.

 

To complete an online Social Security Disability application complete the following steps:

 

1. Go to the following website.

 

2. Read and review the adult disability checklist found on the website.

 

3. Read and review the Adult Disability Starter Kit, which answers some common questions about the process and gives you a valuable worksheet to keep track of your application.

 

4. Complete the online “Adult Disability Report” and “Disability Medical Report.”

 

5. Print, sign, and return a medical release form – also known as the Authorization to Disclose Information Form 827. Unfortunately you will need to provide a physical copy of this form with your signature to complete your Social Security application. This is because strict federal laws regarding privacy apply to medical releases.

 

Your disability application is complete and filed when you finish all the steps above. If you miss a step then your application is incomplete.

 

The SSA may need additional information to finish your application, in which case a claims representative will contact you for additional information. Comply with these requests promptly or your claim may be denied due to a failure to cooperate.

 

Why It Is Important to Have a Disability Attorney When You Apply for SSD Benefits

 

The application process takes a few hours to complete, but only if you have all your paperwork ready. The benefits of having an experienced SSD attorney to help you file your application become obvious as you try to work through the SSA’s roadblocks and complicated system. But Richmond disability lawyer Corey Pollard has years of experienced helping disabled worker’s prepare a strong SSD application so that your odds of being approved are as high as possible. We’ll gather the appropriate paperwork, answer your questions, make sure everything is done correctly, and work to build your case. Call now to apply for Social Security disability benefits in Richmond, VA.