Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Internet Disability Application: Is it "Convenient" and "Time Saving"?

A person applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) typically hasn't done it before. It's a new experience, and just getting organized is a challenge.

Some questions I would ask myself when applying include: what do I need to prove, what kind of information meets Social Security Administration (SSA) requirements, and how do I get answers to questions I can't figure out for myself.

SSA encourages people to use the Internet to make application. If I am offered a choice between applying for benefits with help from a live Social Security representative, or struggling alone through an unfamiliar Internet process when I don't feel good, I readily choose the live person - even if I have to go to an SSA office and wait.

According to SSA, "Applying online for disability benefits offers several advantages:
  • You can start your disability claim immediately. There is no need to wait for an appointment;
  • You can apply from the convenience of your own home or on any computer; and
  • You avoid trips to a Social Security office, saving you time and money."
I wonder whether my home computer really is "convenient" when I don't know anything about the parameters of SSDI, haven’t used the government software before, have to rely on canned electronic instructions, and lack access to a trained person who is responsible for answering my questions correctly? 

Also, I am thinking about something else. SSA estimates that completing the i3368 disability report online takes 1½ hours (compared with 1 hour for the equivalent paper report). 1   That sounds like a long and complicated form.  

A little research showed me that 1 ½ hours may be too conservative an estimate of the time required: a few years ago the agency estimated it could take between 1 ½ and 3 hours to complete the i3368 (compared with 1 hour for the paper form). 2 That’s only one of several forms I must fill out to apply.

To sum up, I want a piece of paper in hand and a living well trained person to help me get it right if I am going to invest 1 ½ to 3 hours in one of several forms. I’ll leave the “convenient and time saving” Internet application process to people who prefer the digital world. What do you think?

1  Federal Register, August 9, 2012, page 47689
2  Federal Register, April 24, 2007, page 20156


SSD Claim Benefits said...

A paper application and a pen is not going to be enough. Fact of the matter is that it takes most people over two years to be approved for disability. You need to get somebody to help you with the process

Doug said...

I agree that applicants need more help than a paper application and a pen, but taking the paper route allows easier interaction with how-to guides and helpers I think.