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Information to know before applying for disability benefits

Being forced out of work because of a disability can be frustrating for some people, especially because it raises concerns about providing financial security to your family down the road. Thankfully, as many of our New Jersey readers know, the Social Security Administration has a program in place for just such an unfortunate turn of events.

Called Social Security Disability Insurance, this program provides benefits to people who are totally disabled and unable to work. But as beneficial as the program is, it's worth pointing out that the process can take awhile -- oftentimes three to five months -- and may not result in an approved application right away.

To mitigate your chances of having your application denied or having the process take longer than necessary, there are a few pieces of information you will need to know. Having quick access to this information and being able to present it along with your application could mean the difference between expedited benefits or a long, unknown wait.

Perhaps the most important information you can have access to is your medical information. This includes a diagnosis and description of your disabling condition, a list of any medications you are taking and names and addresses of where you may be receiving therapy or treatments for your condition.

It is also incredibly helpful to list doctors' visits and treatments in chronological order to establish an accurate timeline of your condition. This can be incredibly helpful, especially when determining if you should receive retroactive payments.

Finally, knowing your complete work history is also incredibly important because the amount of benefits a person receives is based on the number of years a person worked. With your application, it's also important to include information about where you worked and the type of work you did. This will help the SSA determine the extent of your disability.

Source: The Social Security Administration, "Disability Planner: How You Apply," Accessed Sept. 29, 2014

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