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Getting Help During The Application And Determination Period


Social Security is supposed to help you understand Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), to help you complete the application, and help obtain the necessary work history. A state agency, generally referred to as Disability Determination Service (DDS) is supposed to help gather the medical evidence needed to prove your claim. However, it is really up you to prove you are entitled to SSDI or SSI. Think of Social Security as helping you, rather than relying solely on Social Security or DDS to do the work. It's more in your interest than Social Security's to complete the process as soon as possible -- and successfully. You don't have to do this alone. Assistance is available.

There are two different areas to consider if you feel like you need assistance.

  • The first is if you feel you need assistance in completing the forms and going through the determination process.
  • The second is if your claim is denied and you appeal.

This article discusses assistance during the application and determination period.

If you do use assistance, be sure to keep the person up-to-date as your physical and/or mental condition changes, as well as your ability to do work activities or activities of daily living.


It is possible to hire an attorney or other professional to help you. However, the way attorneys get paid in this area can work against finding an attorney willing to help until your case reaches the appeal level. The fee for attorneys working in this area is a percentage of your retrospective benefit. It has nothing to do with future benefits. Thus attorneys make the most money getting denials overturned that have large retrospective payments (money that should have been paid to you in the past.) This is almost an incentive for attorneys to get you declined the first time so they can work on the more lucrative appeals. 

Perhaps you can locate an attorney who will at least give you advice on specific questions. You can find an attorney through your local bar association( offsite link) or The National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives ( offsite link).

Free Advice

There may be free advice available on a national or local level. Contact a local non-profit independent living center, a batch of which are listed at offsite link or contact the social workers at your local or national disease specific non-profit organization. Many non-profit organizations provide assistance with this process. An excellent one is Cancer Care, Inc. Call toll free: 800.813.4673 or offsite link       

You can also have a friend assist you. Sometimes, just reading over and discussing the questions makes them easier to answer. 


You can ask a friend or family member or other person to help you. Although they may not have any more expertise about applying for SSDI than you do, they won't have the same emotional involvement and may be better at dealing with bureaucracies or at handling detail.  To learn more, see Representatives

For Appeals

For information about appeals, see Appeals.

To Learn More

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