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By Rita Hatch
Senior Voice Correspondent 

Reviewing Social Security disability benefits


September Morn, please stay for a while longer, for when you are gone it will be time for an introduction to snowflakes and a lonesome, cold winter. But for readers lucky enough to have a working fireplace, it will be nice to cozy up to it again.

Please remember to get registered to vote, and I can’t stress enough the importance of voting this year. The next president will be selecting one or maybe two Supreme Court justices.

Social Security Disability benefits

Social Security pays disability benefits to people who can’t work because they have a medical condition that’s expected to last at least one year or result in death. To find out if you qualify and how Social Security can help you, I will go over the different parts of this wonderful program.

The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.

Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough, at least for 40 quarters, and paid Social Security taxes.

Supplemental Security Income pays benefits based on financial need. When you apply for either program, Social Security will collect medical and other information from you and make a decision about whether or not you meet Social Security’s definition of disability.

Use the Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool (which you can find on line) to find out which programs may be able to pay you benefits.

If your application has recently been denied, the Internet Appeal is a starting point to request a review of the program’s decision about your eligibility for disability benefits.

If your application is denied for medical reasons, you can complete and submit the required Appeal Request and Appeal Disability Report online.

The disability report asks you for updated information about your medical condition and any treatment, tests or doctor visits since the program made its decision.

I know that many of you are not connected to the internet or are unable to delve through its many pages and so I suggest that you contact Social Security by phone, or in person at one of their many offices to get help and just use this column as a guide when you talk to a Social Security agent.

You should contact your local Social Security office to request an interview. Call the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can call the toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.

Remember, when you go to any federal office, you should have with you your state ID and your Social Security card or you will not be permitted entrance to the building.

Rita Hatch is an Older Persons Action Group board member and volunteers for OPAG’s Medicare assistance program. Call her at 276-1059 in Anchorage, or toll-free statewide at 1-800-478-1059. Her email address is


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