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What you should know about filing for Social Security Disability?

Taking the leap to file for Social Security Disability benefits? If so, there are a few things that you want to make certain that you understand before you start.

Here are some tips that will help you understand the process of filing and make it easier to get an approval:

1. You don't need an appointment to file. You don't even need to leave your home. The majority of people can file for benefits directly online by going to Social Security's website and starting an application.

2. You don't need your doctor's permission to file -- but you do need his or her information. Gather the names of all of your current doctors and their addresses so that you can put down as much information as possible. This will help Social Security track down your medical records so that they can use the records to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements.

3. Understand that Social Security's definition of "disabled" is very strict. In essence, you have to be completely incapable of doing any type of gainful work -- including desk jobs or call center jobs -- in order to qualify. In addition, the condition has to be longstanding, one that will last at least a year. There are no short-term disability programs available under Social Security.

4. Your medications could play an important role in your disability determination. Make certain that you list every medication that you take and the side effects that those medications cause. That's important, because those problematic effects of the drugs you have to take to control your condition may be a large part of the reason that you're actually disabled. For example, if you take tizanidine, a commonly prescribed muscle relaxant, three times a day, you may suffer significant drowsiness as a result. It's difficult to hold down a job when you keep falling asleep!

5. Know when it's time to ask for help. Many attorneys who handle Social Security Disability claims don't accept cases until after someone has been denied at least once because there's nothing they can really do to make the decision faster or easier. However, if you've been denied, they can really pinpoint why the claim failed and how to overcome the claims examiner's specific objections.

If you've been denied benefits, a Social Security Disability attorney can be a powerful ally to have.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Benefits," accessed Sept. 8, 2017

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