If you are disabled and unable to work, you may have heard both good and bad things about Social Security’s disability benefits. The first thing you should know is that if you are an American citizen who has worked and paid taxes in this country, you have been making Social Security insurance payments with every paycheck. Assuming you have worked long enough to qualify for disability benefits and if you are disabled to the point that you can no longer work, you are entitled to Social Security disability benefits.
It is extremely important that you do not delay in filing a disability claim. The process can be long and cumbersome, and it is likely you will experience hardships if you delay in filing. In some areas, the process can take over two years! While the Social Security Administration is opening new offices around the country, the backlog of pending cases is very large, and the wait time is not likely to decrease substantially for some time.
When you file for disability, you must be sure to file for the correct type of disability benefits and to fill out the correct forms. If, after investigating the process on your own, you think you may need some help with filing a disability claim, it is always a good idea to find qualified help at the start of the process. In addition to filling out the correct forms and supplying all of the necessary information, you also face filing deadlines. Someone who is familiar with the system can take a great deal of stress off your shoulders by helping you with this process.
Even if you file your application in a timely way, it is a statistical probability that your initial disability application will be denied. Over 60% of initial Social Security disability applications are denied and applicants must then move on to the disability appeals process. This means attending a hearing and presenting evidence to an administrative law judge.
While you do not necessarily need professional help to prepare and submit your initial application (although that is always a good idea), it is very important that you have a Social Security disability attorney or other professional representative to help you prepare for and to attend the administrative hearing, just as you would not attend any court without being represented by a professional. A qualified Social Security disability lawyer or disability claims advocate will be experienced in this area and will know how to present your case to the judge in the most effective way.
It is imperative that you continue to see your doctors and to continue to receive medical treatment before, during, and after the disability application process. Even if past records show you were disabled, you must show that you continue to be disabled. Even after you receive Social Security disability benefits, you must be able to show that you continue to be disabled in order to continue to receive benefits. Therefore, it is very important to have current and past medical records to support your case. It is also easier to obtain medical records if you have an ongoing relationship with your doctors. An ongoing relationship, for purposes of Social Security disability benefits, means that you visit at least every two or three months for checkups.