Each year, millions of people apply for financial assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSA) due to a significant health condition that limits their ability to work. While many of these individuals are rightfully disabled and in need of help, only a third of claimants are approved at the initial level of the disability claim process.
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application process is complex and requires exceptional attention to detail. Even seemingly small mistakes can cost you, leading to delays or even an outright denial of your claim. To best enhance your chances of approval, be sure to avoid the following three pitfalls when completing your disability application.
Incorrect Application Information
Before you sit down to complete your online SSDI application, you will need to gather a significant amount of information. To make the process easier, the SSA has created a checklist for disability applicants.
You will need to gather basic data such as your birth information, dates and location of marriages and divorces, and the names and birth dates of your children. You will also need to provide information on your employment history for the last fifteen years, including the dates that you worked at your jobs, as well as the duties that you performed. Finally, you will need complete information about all of your healthcare providers, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, and dates that you have been seen.
As you can imagine, it’s easy to provide incorrect information or to leave a question incomplete. However, even transcribing the wrong telephone number for your physician can cause delays in the processing of your application. While the claims processor will do their best to gain access to the correct information, it can take time. Be sure to double check the spelling of all providers, hospitals, and addresses. There may be a big difference between a Dr. Rogers and a Dr. Rodgers.
Do your best to answer every single question on your disability application. If there is a question that does not seem relevant to your particular situation, be sure to mark the item as not applicable or N/A. If you are unsure how to answer a specific question, seek advice from legal counsel or your local SSA office.
Incomplete Application Information
Disability claims are won or lost on medical evidence. Therefore, it is imperative that you provide as much medical documentation as possible when you are first presenting your case to the SSA.
Be sure to include all healthcare providers that you have seen, even if it seems irrelevant. Should you inadvertently leave out an emergency room visit or an appointment that you had with a specialist, your claim could be denied based on insufficient medical documentation.
Also, in addition to listing your primary health condition, be sure to include any medical conditions that could contribute to your inability to work. When deciding on your claim, the SSA will look at the entire picture.
For example, if you are being treated for depression or anxiety as a result of your cancer diagnosis, be sure that you have listed this on your application. Failure to include all of your health conditions could lead to a denial of your claim.
Missing Important Social Security Deadlines
There are many deadlines associated with the Social Security Disability application process. For example, disability examiners might contact you with a request for additional information. Often, their requests are sent with a strict deadline, which is typically two weeks or less.
If you do not stay on top of your paperwork, you could miss the deadline, which could result in a denial of your claim. If you are unable to obtain the requested information promptly, you should contact the SSA to communicate your plan and ask for an extension.
Other essential deadlines include those related to the application process. If you are denied benefits at any level of the SSDI process, you only have 60 days to appeal to the next level. Missing the deadlines could mean denial of your claim or starting the entire process over again.
Can I Correct a Mistake That I have Made on my Application?
The SSDI application is lengthy and requires that you collect a lot of information. Before submitting your application, you should take the time to double check it and ensure that it is correct. It is much easier to fix potential mistakes while the application is still in your hands.
With that being said, the SSA recognizes that this is a human process and that some mistakes are inevitable. If you have made a mistake on your application or if you want to clarify a point, you can contact your local Social Security office by phone or in person. Someone should be able to direct you on how to correct your mistake.
Can a Lawyer Help Ensure that my Application is Accurate and Complete?
If you are uncertain whether or not your SSDI application was completed correctly, or if you have trouble completing the application, an experienced Social Security lawyer can assist you by reviewing your documents and walking you through the application process. He or she can catch potential errors in advance, thus improving your chance of success.
Many individuals think that they cannot afford to hire an attorney, but disability lawyers do not get paid unless you have a favorable outcome. Working with an experienced Social Security lawyer can help you avoid these and potentially other costly mistakes.