How to Apply for Disability Benefits in Illinois

Posted on November 30, 2023

Applying for disability benefits in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois requires that you gather certain personal, medical, and work records and fill out and submit the application materials on time. It’s not a straightforward process. As a matter of fact, the majority of applications are denied. It takes adequate knowledge and preparation to apply for benefits successfully. Therefore, the more you know about how to apply for disability benefits in Illinois, the more you enhance your chances of success.

Injured employee visiting lawyer for advice on insurance. How to Apply for Disability Benefits in Illinois

Eligibility Criteria for Disability Benefits in Illinois

Before applying for disability benefits in Illinois, you’ll want to know whether you meet the eligibility criteria. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has rules and factors it considers to determine whether you’re eligible for disability benefits. For example, the SSA has different age categories, with people in their fifties considered less trainable for new skills and jobs. As a result, the odds of winning Social Security disability when you’re over 55 are generally higher. Here’s more on eligibility for disability benefits in Illinois.

What Are the Available Disability Benefits Programs in Illinois?

Before starting your application, you’ll need to choose the disability benefits program that’s ideal for you. Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are the two main disability programs in Illinois. Both SSDI and SSI benefits require applicants to meet the SSA’s statutory definition of disability. Disability, according to SSA’s definition, is the inability to perform any substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable impairment that’s already lasted or is expected to last for a period of at least 12 months or lead to death.

Each program also has its own set of eligibility requirements that applicants must meet. The SSA considers a person’s work history when confirming his or her eligibility for SSDI disability benefits. To be eligible for these benefits, you must have worked long and recently enough and paid Social Security taxes. SSDI benefits are payable to disabled workers as well as their spouses, children, and adult disabled children. The amount of your SSDI monthly benefit depends on your average lifetime earnings.

SSI disability benefits are paid to low-income persons who may or may not have a previous work history. This needs-based program is designed to assist disabled individuals with little or no income. SSI payments depend on an individual’s assets and income. SSI doesn’t consider your Social Security tax contribution.

Necessary Documents and Information

Your application for disability benefits must include supporting documents and information. The pieces of information you should gather and send along with your application include:

  • Personal information, such as your place and date of birth, address, bank account and routing numbers, your spouse’s date of birth, age, and Social Security number, and the names and birthdates of your children if they’re under 18 years old
  • Medical information, including records from the doctors and hospitals you’ve been to, names of prescription medications you’re taking, and the name, address, and contact details of someone who knows about your condition
  • Employment information, such as the amount of money you’ve earned in the current and previous year, names and addresses of your employers for the current and previous year, a list of up to five jobs you’ve had in the 15 years prior to becoming disabled, and any information related to workers’ compensation benefits

Tips for a Successful Disability Benefits Application in Chicago

There are several ways to apply for Social Security disability benefits. If you’re only applying for SSDI, you can file your claim on the SSA’s website. If your claim is for SSI alone or both SSI and SSDI, you can apply for the benefits by phone or by going to the local field office. You can start an SSI application online, but you’ll need to finish it over the phone or in person at your local field office.

Nearly 70% of disability claims are initially denied. As a result, it pays to know the valuable tips that boost your chances of winning disability benefits.

Communicate Clearly

Clear communication is crucial to filing a successful application. You should communicate clearly with your doctors to enable them to understand the full extent of your medical condition and the limitations you face. Doctors can only report what they know from you. The better the communication between you and your doctor, the more detailed and thorough the doctor’s notes will be, which will make it easier for agencies to make a disability determination.

Clear communication should also be seen in your answers on the application forms. You should look at your answers based on what they communicate about your medical problems and limitations. Be wary of saying something that could look like an exaggeration to others. Don’t overstate your abilities or deficiencies. Keep your answers concise, honest, and consistent throughout the different forms.

Seek Legal Guidance

A Social Security disability lawyer will do an initial review of your case, give you his or her assessment of your chances of winning benefits, identify the programs you best qualify for, and advise you on the best approach to take moving forward. If you choose to retain the lawyer’s services, he or she will help in a number of ways.

Your disability lawyer will know the evidence that’s crucial to your application and how to obtain it. He or she will help you schedule medical care and secure medical documentation that strengthens your claim. When you apply for disability benefits with a lawyer, your lawyer will help you answer all the questions to favor your case. Additionally, your lawyer will ensure your application is accurate, complete, free of mistakes, and filed on time, along with all the other necessary paperwork.

If you have already applied but were denied, your Social Security disability attorney will help expedite the appeals process. Your attorney will develop a winning strategy for your case, represent you, and argue your case in front of a judge if needed. He or she will help you retain an expert witness if your claim needs one.

A Social Security disability lawyer will walk you through every step of the way. Statistics show that the chances of winning disability benefits are three times higher when you have a lawyer.

Medical Evaluations

As part of your disability application, the Bureau of Disability Determination Services may request you to undergo a medical evaluation to get additional information about the severity of your impairment. The evaluation may involve physical or psychological exams or specific imaging tests. It’s often performed by an SSA-approved physician or psychologist who routinely does disability testing.

During the evaluation, ensure you’re specific when talking about your condition and how it affects your daily activities and ability to work. Describe how your symptoms and condition affect you on average or on bad days, rather than just that specific day.

Most Common Mistakes to Avoid

Many Social Security disability applications are denied because of mistakes made by applicants. Here are some common ones you should avoid in order to increase your disability claim’s chances of approval.

Providing Inaccurate Information

A major mistake that claimants in Chicago and the rest of Illinois make is providing inaccurate or insufficient information. You should follow the guidelines precisely and double-check your information before submitting your application. You may hurt your chances of getting approved for disability benefits or significantly delay the process if your application contains inaccurate details of your disability or disease, incomplete medical records, or is missing some other important information.

It’s also possible for your documentation to be presented in a way that isn’t persuasive to the SSA, despite your best efforts. That’s one of the main reasons why you should hire a lawyer for Social Security Disability. Experienced Chicago Social Security disability lawyers have helped many clients get approval for disability benefits. As a result, they’ll know how to apply for disability benefits in Illinois and present your case in a manner that the SSA prefers.

Discontinuing Treatment

Disability claims are commonly denied or terminated for failure to follow a doctor’s treatment plan. Many claimants don’t understand that failing to adhere to the prescribed treatment regimens may make the SSA conclude that their condition isn’t as limiting as claimed or that the claimants are trying to interfere with the condition’s severity. When determining a claimant’s eligibility or reviewing his or her continued disability, SSD examiners usually require that the claimant’s condition hasn’t improved despite following a physician’s prescribed treatment. Therefore, it’s best to undergo continuous and consistent treatment.

Missing Deadlines or Failing to Respond to SSA Requests Promptly

When considering how to apply for disability benefits in Illinois, lack of cooperation with the SSA is a common mistake among claimants. This may be in the form of failing to respond to the agency’s request for information, not appearing for scheduled exams, or failing to file the necessary paperwork or appeal on time. You should cooperate with the agency and adhere to the deadlines related to your claim.