Social Security Disability Insurance exists to let people who cannot work live as independently as possible. Without SSDI, disabled people risk becoming homeless, completely dependent on family members and charitable organizations, or struggling to meet their own most basic needs for food and clothing. The monthly cash payments are never generous, but they often make the difference between truly living and merely existing.

As experienced Columbus disability attorneys, lawyers with Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman have helped many Ohio residents navigate the difficult SSDI application process successfully. Here are five essential tips we share with clients.

Determine Your Eligibility

As a federal program, SSDI benefits are primarily available to U.S. citizens who have paid into the Social Security system by having money withheld from their paychecks. Public school teachers, state government workers, some self-employed individuals, and most people who hold permanent resident status but not citizenship cannot qualify to receive SSDI. Children with profound disabilities usually can qualify through their parents or guardians.

The eligibility rules for adults are otherwise very complicated. It is worth doing online research and speaking with a knowledgeable Columbus, Ohio, Social Security lawyer to learn whether a person born in a place other than a U.S. state or who has never worked for wages has the right to apply.

Fill Your File

Medical evidence, statements from occupational specialists, financial records, and bills from doctors, therapists, and counselors make your case for receiving Social Security Disability Insurance payments. Your second step in applying for SSDI, taken right after you figure out you are eligible to apply, must be collecting and organizing every piece of paperwork that proves you are disabled and in need of benefits.

Consult on Submitting Your Application

The Social Security Administration allows you to work with a lawyer and other advisers when preparing and submitting your SSDI application. Exercise your right to access legal and programmatic expertise so you can prepare and submit the strongest application possible.

Redo Your Application

Follow your Social Security lawyer’s advice to get updated diagnoses and second opinions from physicians and career specialists. Revise expense and asset summaries according to the rules for what you must disclose and what you are allowed to keep confidential. Add materials to your application file as suggested, and remove extraneous or unhelpful information. More evidence to support your claim is not always better, but better evidence is always better.

Do Not Panic or Quit at a First Denial

Many, if not most, first-time SSDI applications that name working-age adults and senior citizens as beneficiaries get rejected. Social Security rules provide for many levels of appeals, and a final denial from the agency can be appealed in federal civil court. Working closely with a dedicated SSDI attorney as you progress through appeals is highly recommended. Who can receive my Social Security Disability benefits apart from me?

Let the legal team in the Columbus offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman know how we can help you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance. The initial consultation is free. Request an appointment online or call us at (800) 678-3318.