The Social Security disability program is one of the largest Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities.
In 2019, the Social Security Administration (SSA) paid benefits to nearly 10 million people.
If you have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes, you and certain members of your family may be eligible to receive disability benefits.
To begin receiving benefits, you must first apply to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.
If you need assistance applying for disability benefits in Louisiana, the Social Security disability attorneys at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson are here to help. Call our Lake Charles office at 337-436-6611, or fill out an online form to schedule a free consultation.
How to Apply For Disability In Louisiana
Social Security Disability Insurance is a Federal program, but they are administered at the state level. If you live in Louisiana, for example, you can apply for the program one of three ways.
Apply online through the SSA website
When you apply online, you’ll need to have specific information and documents ready to complete your application.
Apply through your local Social Security office
You can find your local Social Security office on the SSA site. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the SSA suspended face-to-face services to the public in March 2020. They do still provide services via phone and fax, as well as online.
Apply by phone
You can apply by calling their toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 from 8 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday. The SSA also has a phone line for the hearing impaired at 1-800-325-0778.
Information and Documents You Need
Before starting your application, gather documents and information about yourself, your medical history, and your work history. Have the following information ready for your application.
Information about you
- Date of birth and place of birth
- Social Security number
- Name, Social Security number, birthdate, or age of your current spouse and any former spouses
- Dates and places of marriage
- Dates of divorce or death, if applicable
- Names and birth dates of any children under 18 years of age
- Your financial institution’s routing number and your account number
- Name, address, and phone numbers of your doctors, primary care physician, hospitals, or clinics
- Dates of examinations and treatments
- Names and dates of medical tests and who ordered them
- Names of prescription and non-prescription medications, as well as the reason for taking them and who prescribed them
- Date your medical condition began to affect your ability to work
- Your job history in the 15 years before you became unable to work
- Amount of money earned last year and this year
- Name and address of your employer(s) last year and this year
- Self-employment details for this year and the prior 2 years
- Duties you had on the longest job you held
- Beginning and end dates of any active military service you had prior to 1968
- Information on any similar benefits you’ve filed, such as workers’ compensation, federal employees’ compensation, or disability benefits from the military
Documents you may need to provide
You may be required to provide the following documents to show proof or eligibility:
- Birth certificate or proof of birth
- Proof of citizenship or lawful alien status
- W-2 forms or tax returns*
- Medical records, reports, or test results*
- Military discharge papers
- Proof of compensation-type benefits you’ve received
*The SSA accepts photocopies of these documents, but they must see the original of most other documents. They’ll be returned to you.
Common Mistakes to Avoid on Your Application
From 2009 to 2018, the percentage of denied disability claims have averaged 66%. Denied claims fall into two categories: “technical denials,” or claims denied for nonmedical reasons, and medical denials.
Here are some of the most common reasons for technical denials and medical denials.
Insufficient number of work credits
The most common nonmedical reason for denying an application is an insufficient number of recent work credits. To qualify for benefits, you must have worked long enough and recently enough under Social Security.
You can earn up to four Social Security work credits per year. The number of work credits you have determines whether you qualify for disability benefits or not, depending on your age when you become disabled. If you haven’t earned the required number of work credits, your application may be denied.
Your disability is temporary
The length of your disability is a crucial part of your application and determining your eligibility. If your impairment is not expected to last 12 months, it’s expected to improve, or it’s not considered severe by the SSA, you may be denied benefits.
You’re able to work
The SSA will check to see if you’re currently working your usual type of work, or if you’re able to perform another job. If you’re able to engage in what’s called “substantial gainful activity,” or SGA, that means you’re able to earn more than a determined monthly amount, and you may be denied benefits.
The monthly SGA amount for 2021 for non-blind individuals is $1310. For blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount is $2190.
How a Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help
After submitting your application for benefits, the SSA will review it and contact you if they have questions, or need additional documents.
Once they have made a decision, you’ll be sent an official letter with their decision. If your application was denied for any reason, you have the right to appeal the decision with the SSA.
Filing an application for disability benefits can be stressful and complicated. Appealing a denial decision can make the process even longer and more difficult.
While you don’t legally need a lawyer to apply for benefits, an attorney can help you understand your options, gather the right documents, and increase your chances of a favorable outcome on your application.
The social security disability attorneys at Cox, Cox, Filo, Camel & Wilson have been handling Social Security disability claims for over 30 years. Our team can help you file your application and guide you through the appeals process, if necessary.