Disability Dialogue— The SSA, Consultative Examinations, & Hiring an Attorney

Submitted by Shane on

Over the last few months we have dedicated many of our blog posts to answering all of your disability-related questions. Today, however, we’re asking the questions!

We spoke to a group of disability recipients about their experience applying for Social Security Disability benefits. We thought that by speaking with real people, we’d be able to show you a different side of the application process. Our hope is that the information we collected will answer your questions, improve your experience, and prepare you to submit your own application.

To protect the privacy of the individuals we speak to, we will not be using their names or any other identifying information.

Disability Dialogue—A Look into the Social Security Disability Application Process

Today we’ll be speaking with a gentleman who has been receiving SSDI benefits since 2006. His initial application and request for reconsideration were both denied. He was finally approved for benefits after his appeal hearing. In total, the application process took about a year and a half to complete. Here is what he told us—his answers in italics, our commentary un-italicized:

  1. What was your overall experience like applying for benefits?

    My experience with applying was that no one in West Virginia wanted to help me. The Social Security Administration didn’t help me through the process.

    Unfortunately, the SSA’s main focus is running and distributing benefits from the programs that they oversee. While they are there to offer information and guide you through the application process, there is only so much that they can do for each applicant.

    Going into the application process, be prepared to keep track of important dates, times, and information. Write things down, stay organized, and ask questions if you need help. If you find that you cannot do it on your own, ask for the help of a friend, family member, or legal professional.

  2. What were the biggest challenges you faced throughout the process?

    The biggest challenges were getting to the appointments and having to go to the Social Security Administration’s doctors because they were rude.

    Sometimes, the SSA will require you to attend appointments with their doctors. This often happens because they do not have enough medical information to make a decision on your claim. Typically, these doctors will not spend much time with an applicant and will only perform the tests required by the SSA. This can leave them with an inaccurate impression of your condition and limitations.

    To avoid seeing an SSA-appointed doctor, be sure to provide thorough medical documentation to validate your claim. If have not seen a doctor or cannot afford to go to the doctor, this article may help: I can’t afford to go to a doctor. How can I get the medical records I need to qualify for Social Security Disability?

  3. What advice do you have for those who are thinking about filing for disability?

    Get a lawyer, because without one you can’t win. I worked with a lawyer I found in the Yellow Pages.

    While it is possible to be awarded benefits without the help of a lawyer, having one can definitely increase your chances of approval—especially if you are feeling confused or overwhelmed. If you are interested in speaking to an attorney or advocate, fill out the form on this page: Free Disability Evaluation.

That wraps up our very first Disability Dialogue. If you enjoy this type of blog post or want to share your experience with us, let us know in the comment section below!

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