A claimant must file an application before being entitled to receive benefits. 20 C.F.R. § 404.603, §416.305. The application can be initiated by calling 1-800-772-1213, visiting a local district office, or through Social Security’s website, www.ssa.gov. The claimant must apply for benefits on an application prescribed by Social Security. 20 C.F.R. § 404.611, §416.310. However, the date that Social Security receives a written, signed statement of an intent to file benefits will be considered the date of filing if an application is subsequently filed within 6 months of Social Security sending notice of the need to file an application. 20 C.F.R. § 404.630, §416.340. Further, a claimant can receive a “deemed” filing date if the claimant inquired about filing for benefits with Social Security, but chose not to do so because of misinformation provided by Social Security. 20 C.F.R. § 404.633, §416.351. Social Security will use the date of an oral inquiry as an application filing date for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) claims if the prescribed application form is subsequently filed within 60 days. 20 C.F.R. § 416.345.
The filing date is important since a Title II claimant (what laypeople might call a regular disability claimant) cannot receive benefits more than 12 months prior to the filing date, regardless of how long the claimant has been disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.621. An SSI applicant cannot draw any benefits until the month after the application is filed. 20 C.F.R. § 416.335. In any case, once a claim is filed, Social Security will begin to process the claim, which includes paperwork for the claimant to fill out, collecting medical records, and usually a consultative examination performed by a doctor at the expense of Social Security. If the claimant is denied on an initial determination, a request for reconsideration must be filed. The request must be filed within 60 days (plus 5 mailing days) of the date of the denial, unless good cause for late filing is demonstrated. The request must be a written request. 20 C.F.R. § 404.909. While Social Security does not require that the request be made on their form, it is certainly a good idea to do so. If the claimant is once again denied, he must request a hearing before an administrative law judge. The written request must include the name and Social Security number of the wage earner, the reasons for disagreeing with the denial, a statement of additional evidence to submit, and the name and address of the claimant’s representative if he has one. The request must be filed within 60 days (plus 5 mailing days) of the date of the denial, unless good cause for late filing is demonstrated. 20 C.F.R. § 404.933. Again, while Social Security does not require that the request be made on their form, it is certainly a good idea to do so.