Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in Connecticut: Helpful Hints and Practical Advice

There are three ways that a person can apply for Social Security Disability Benefits:  1. in person at a local Social Security Field Office, 2. by phone or, 3. on line.  Any of these three methods is perfectly fine.  Here are some helpful hints and recommendations regarding the initial Social Security Application process, with particular emphasis on some of the issues faced by claimants who use the online system in the State of Connecticut. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) seems to have an ongoing media campaign encouraging applicants to use the online system.  This electronic system seems to be working relatively well for most applicants.  In addition, the SSA is constantly working on improving its online system and has been adding new features to its web page on a regular basis.  I must confess that, at times, it is hard to keep up.  One of the most common issues with respect to the online system, is that not all aspects of the Social Security process can be conducted in an electronic format.  Despite these limitations, the SSA is working at a very fast pace towards a paperless electronic system and, pretty soon, practically every aspect of the process will be conducted in an electronic format.  One example of this problem was the fact that applicants could do the entire initial application and adult disability report online but then, had to mail a separate form to the SSA giving the agency authorization to look at their medical information.  However, just today, the SSA came up with a new electronic Authorization Form to Disclose Information to the SSA (Form SSA-827).  Now applicants can provide an electronic signature to disclose their medical information, instead of using the traditional "wet ink" signature that our civilization has used for more than two millenniums. 

Another difficulty with the current online system is that it can only be used for SSDI applications.  Applicants for SSI still have to apply in person or by phone.  This causes some confusion, since most Social Security Disability Lawyers advise their clients to simultaneously apply for SSI and SSDI.  However, this apparent problem is easily solved by completing the SSDI form online and then calling the local office to do the SSI application by phone.  Another easier way of resolving this issue is by stating in the SSDI online application that the claimant also wishes to apply for SSI.  The online application specifically asks whether the applicant also wants to apply for SSI.  If the online applicant clicks on the "yes" button, someone from the SSA will contact the claimant to complete the SSI application on the phone. 

Another issue particular to Connecticut is that applicants from the Bristol area, who apply on line, receive a statement indicating their case is being handled by the Hartford Field Office instead of the Bristol Field Office.  This can be a bit confusing but, I suspect, is no big deal.  The Hartford Field Office seems to be handling cases from the Bristol area due to budget cuts.  However, even though the Hartford Field Office is in charge of the case, claimants can still go to the Bristol Field Office to submit any necessary paperwork that cannot be delivered by mail or online.  For example, this week, one of my clients from Bristol was told that she had to show proof of citizenship to the SSA in person.  Since she is disabled, driving long distances is difficult.  She thought that she had to appear in person in the Hartford filed office to show her passport.  She was a bit overwhelmed and was making arrangements to have a friend drive her to downtown Hartford.  Fortunately, I was able to talk to her before she got in the car with her friend and explained that she could present her passport to the Bristol Field Office (which happens to be very close to her house) even though the Hartford Field Office is the office which is formally in charge of her application.

Another important piece of information is that now, Social Security Field Offices close at 3:30 PM.  The early closure of the Field Offices is also due to budgetary constraints.  For your convenience here is a list of the Social Security Field Offices in Connecticut. 

Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits - Connecticut Social Security Office Phone Numbers and Addresses:

Office NameAddressCityStateZip   Telephone
Ansonia Social Security Office   307 Main StreetAnsoniaConnecticut06401    866-331-7096
Bridgeport Social Security Office   3885 Main StreetBridgeportConnecticut06606    866-331-1213
Bristol Social Security Office   225 North Main StreetBristolConnecticut06010    888-472-2403
Danbury Social Security Office   131 West StreetDanburyConnecticut06810    866-275-7821
East Hartford Social Security Office   478 Burnside AvenueEast HartfordConnecticut06108    866-706-6759
Hartford Social Security Office   960 Main StHartfordConnecticut06103    877-619-2851
Meriden Social Security Office   One West Main StMeridenConnecticut06451    877-409-8429
Middletown Social Security Office   425 Main StreetMiddletownConnecticut06457    877-692-3145
New Britain Social Security Office   233 Main Street 2nd FlNew BritainConnecticut06051    866-858-6086
New Haven Social Security Office   150 Court St 4th FlNew HavenConnecticut06510    866-331-5281
New London Social Security Office   2 Shaws CoveNew LondonConnecticut06320    866-643-3401
Norwalk Social Security Office   24 Belden AveNorwalkConnecticut06850    877-376-9854
Norwich Social Security Office   101 Water StreetNorwichConnecticut06360    888-482-3170
Stamford Social Security Office   2 Landmark SquareStamfordConnecticut06901    866-770-1881
Torrington Social Security Office   147 Litchfield StreetTorringtonConnecticut06790    860-489-1633
Waterbury Social Security Office   95 Scovill StWaterburyConnecticut06706    203-756-7476
Willimantic Social Security Office   1320 Main StreetWillimanticConnecticut06226    860-423-6386