How to File for Disability in Virginia

Three Parts:Preparing to ApplyFiling the ApplicationDealing with an Appeal

The Virginia Disability Determination Services (DDS), a division within the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) works with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine if individuals are eligible to receive disability benefits in Virginia. Any person over the age of 18 can file for disability; however, you will only receive financial assistance if you meet the SSA’s strict definition of disability and you have the minimum number of work credits, that is, you must have worked long enough and recently enough under the Social Security System to qualify.

Part 1
Preparing to Apply

  1. Image titled Find a Job if You Have a Disability Step 2
    Determine whether you meet the definition of disabled. In order to qualify for disability benefits, you must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) strict definition of disabled, which is met if the SSA determines: you are at least 18 years of age and you cannot do the work you did before, you cannot adjust to alternative work because of your medical conditions, and these conditions are expected to last for at least one year or are expected to result in death. To make those determinations, the SSA and Virginia Disability Determination Services (DDS) consider the following:
    • whether you are working, if you have worked in this year and you made more than $1,090, you cannot be considered for disability;
    • if your condition is severe, or in other words, if it interferes with basic activities related to work;
    • if your condition is on the SSA’s list of automatic qualifying conditions, if you condition is on this list you are automatically considered disabled and the analysis is over; if not, the SSA asks whether your condition is of equal severity of the conditions on the list;
    • if your condition prevents you from doing the work you previously did; and
    • if you cannot do the work you previously did, if you are able to adjust to other potential work depending on your age, skill, education, and past work experience.[1][2][3]
  2. Image titled File Taxes for a Deceased Person Step 3
    Calculate whether you have the correct work credits. Besides being considered disabled by the SSA, qualifying applicants must also have the correct amount of work credits to be eligible for disability benefits.
    • Work credits are based on total yearly wages or self-employment income from year to year. Individuals may qualify for up to four work credits per year.
    • The amount of income to earn a credit changes from year to year. In 2015, one credit is worth $1,220 of income.
    • The number of work credits required to qualify for disability depends on the age of the applicant. In general, individuals need a total of 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last decade (based on the time you were first considered disabled). However, younger applicants may be subject to less strict requirements. These requirements are spelled out in a chart available on the SSA’s website.
    • The actual calculation of work credits over the years can be complicated, however, in general to qualify: if you are 31 years of age or older, you must have worked at least 5 of the last 10 years; if you are between 24 and 31, you must have worked at least half of the time since you turned 21; and if you are under 24, you must have worked at least one and half years in the three year period before the disability.[4][5][6][7]
  3. Image titled Say Goodbye to Coworkers Step 12
    Investigate as to whether you qualify as a special situation. Certain circumstances may also dictate that a person is eligible for disability benefits. Special forms and documentation, available on the SSA website, correspond to these special situations and can direct the applicant in how to proceed if these circumstances apply. The special situations may apply to you if you:
    • are blind or have low visions;
    • are the widow or widower of the disabled worker;
    • are a disabled child; or
    • are a wounded warrior or veteran.[8][9][10][11]
  4. Image titled Get Power of Attorney Step 8
    Gather the necessary documentation. Certain items, which are necessary to fill out an online application for disability benefits or to visit the disability office in person to be interviewed for the benefits, should be collected prior to proceeding with the application process. In addition to the following items to collect, the SSA offers a Disability Starter Kit, which contains a fact sheet, checklist, and worksheet to help you prepare for the application process on its website. You will need to gather:
    • your social security number and documentation of your age;
    • the contact information, including names, addresses, and phone numbers, of doctors, hospitals, case workers, and other health care providers that you were treated by for your medical condition and the dates of your visits with them;
    • names of the medications you are taking and the dosages of those medications;
    • all medical records that you can obtain or that you have in your possession;
    • test and laboratory results;
    • your work history including a summary of what types of work you did and where and when you did it;
    • your most recent W-2 for or, if you were self-employed, your latest federal tax return; and
    • the social security numbers and proof of age of your spouse as well as proof and dates of marriage, if your spouse may also qualify to receive benefits.[12][13]

Part 2
Filing the Application

  1. Image titled Contact the IRS Step 14
    Pick an application method. To file for disability benefits in Virginia an applicant may apply online, by phone, or in person. In order to apply in person, you must visit your local Virginia Social Security Office. Appointments must be made in advance of these in-person applications.[14]
    • To apply by phone call 1-800-772-1213 or for the hearing impaired call TTY 1-800-325-0778.
    • In order to apply online, you must be 18 years of age or older, not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record, and unable to work based on a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. You must also not have been denied disability benefits in the last 60 days.[15][16]
  2. Image titled Buy a Stock Without a Stockbroker Step 11
    Submit your information. An online Disability Benefit Application is submitted electronically on the SSA website. If you opt to apply in person, an interview will take the place of the submission of the online form. The purpose of the interview, like the online form, is to gather the necessary information for the SSA and DDS to make a decision regarding your eligibility for disability benefits so the interview will ask essentially the same questions that are contained on the online application, including questions about your background information, medical condition, and work history.[17][18]
  3. Image titled Build Trust in a Relationship Step 6
    Wait for a response. After your application is received by the SSA, it will provide confirmation of receipt of the application in the event it was submitted online. The SSA then reviews the application in conjunction with the DDS. These agencies will contact you if they require additional information from you in order to make a decision.[19]
  4. Image titled Write a Grant Proposal Step 1
    Review your status letter. After a decision is made regarding your application, the SSA will mail you a decision letter. If you are approved, the benefits will be paid for the sixth full month after the date that the SSA determines you became disabled. The amount you will receive can be estimated using the SSA Benefit Calculator on its website. Applications generally take approximately three to five months to be processed.[20][21][22]

Part 3
Dealing with an Appeal

  1. Image titled Be Calm Step 21
    Determine the basis for your disagreement with the decision. In the event your application is denied, decide if you disagree with this decision and, if so, decide on what grounds you disagree.
    • If you disagree with the SSA’s decision that you are not disabled under its rules, proceed with filing a request for reconsideration.
    • If you disagree with the SSA’s decision to deny your application due to non-medical reasons, contact your local Virginia Social Security Office to begin the review process.
    • The majority of requests for disability benefits are denied at the application level. This is true of applications in Virginia as well as in the rest of the country.[23][24]
  2. Image titled Notarize a Document Step 4
    File for reconsideration. A reconsideration appeal must be filed within 60 days of the receipt of the disability benefits denial and received by the SSA office within 65 days of the denial. An appeal may be filed online or through the office in which the initial application was made. The process for reconsideration is similar to the application process; it is just executed by a higher-ranking Social Security examiner.[25]
  3. Image titled Change Your Name in Texas Step 7
    Consider further appeals, if necessary. If your application is denied again at the reconsideration level, you can appeal further. To do so, you must make a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
    • Hearings with ALJs in Virginia are conducted at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).
    • To file for a hearing with an ALJ, either fill out the online application on the Social Security (Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge Form HA-501) or contact your local Social Security Office, which handled your initial application and request for reconsideration.
    • If you did not already hire an attorney, it is highly advisable that you hire one at this point in the proceedings, as an attorney can help prepare your case for appeal and will be knowledgeable about the best way to proceed in the appeal process.[26][27]



  • If at any time in the application or appeal process you discover that you did not provide the proper paperwork or complete the application, contact your local Social Security Office immediately.

Sources and Citations

Show more... (25)

Article Info

Categories: Contracts and Legal Agreements