What information should I collect when considering disability?

If a workplace injury renders you unable to work or limits your ability to work in Ohio, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration determines your eligibility based on how long you worked and how recently, and whether you paid Social Security taxes on your earnings.

Your eligibility will also depend on the quality of your claim, so it is important to prepare your application carefully and include all relevant materials to make your best case. If you want to have an expert represent you, you do have the right to hire an attorney or other representative. Whatever you decide, knowing what to include can be the difference between having the SSA deny or approve your request.

Basic information

Before you apply, collect all relevant materials and have them ready. You will need personal information including your social security number, place of birth, bank account information and official records of any military service. You will need details for your family members, as well, including for current and former spouses and any minor children. Have their birth dates on hand, as well as any of your marriage or divorce dates, at the very least.

You will also need the contact information of someone who knows the details of your disability so that the SSA can reach out to discuss your condition. Have other personal items like tax forms, financial records and proof of citizenship or lawful alien status.

Work information

Once you have your personal and family information collected, you will need records of your work and earnings. This will include your earnings statements or pay stubs for the past several years and details about your work history for the past 15 years or past five jobs — whichever is lesser.

Be prepared to report any information about workers’ compensation claims you have made or plan to make. Do not leave any of these benefits out. Have your award letters, pay stubs, settlement agreement and any other relevant documents.

Disability information

Finally, you will need information about your disability claim. Be diligent to include detailed information about your medical situation. Collect all hospital or medical records for all treatment you have received. You will need to know all dates, patient ID numbers, prescription details, doctor’s information and information about the facility for any treatment or tests related to the medical condition you are claiming on your application.

After applying

It is important to evaluate your eligibility before applying to have your best chance. You may want to seek help from a legal or disability expert to help you. Keep all documents accessible while waiting to hear back about your claim. The SSA may request additional documentation.