Applying for Social Security Disability benefits can feel like a full time job. As an applicant, you are responsible for completing paperwork, attending interviews, compiling medical documentation, and keeping tabs on your claim throughout the entire process. Unfortunately, many applicants put in the time and energy only to be denied.
So what can you do to make sure your application stays out of the rejection pile? Although there are never any guarantees, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of approval. These are as follows:
- Prepare Thoroughly
- Provide Detailed Information
- Be Active and Responsive
- Hire an Attorney or Advocate
Social Security Disability Benefits are intended to offer financial assistance to individuals with serious, long-term disabilities. In an attempt to ensure that the correct individuals receive benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has a variety of strict requirements in place. Although helpful for the SSA, these requirements can be confusing and overwhelming to the applicant. The best way to increase your claim’s chance of success is to thoroughly prepare for the application process.
First, you should begin your preparation by researching the two disability benefit programs—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each program has its own set of technical eligibility requirements. Be sure to understand these completely. If necessary, contact the SSA with any questions you may have. You should also research the medical criteria for disability benefits. These can usually be found in the SSA’s blue book.
Lastly, preparation should include the collection of documents that will be necessary to submit along with your application. This will include both medical and non-medical records. These are vital to your claim’s success. These records will serve as proof of your eligibility and your disability. Medical records should include the findings of physical and mental exams, record of your diagnoses, history of hospitalizations, history and outcome of any treatments you’ve received and also a written statement from your treating physicians attesting to your daily limitations. A list of non-medical records can be found on the SSA’s website.
Whether you are filling out the initial application or answering questions at an appeal hearing, it is important to provide the SSA with detailed information. Your responses give the SSA insight into your condition and how it affects your day-to-day life. All details, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem, might be important to the SSA. Any missing, incomplete, or inaccurate information can result in the delay or denial of your claim.
Also of importance: Include information on any and all health conditions that you have, not just the main or most significant condition. This is because the SSA will consider the combined effects of all health conditions or disabilities you may have. For example, an individual applying with diabetes may not be approved but if that individual explains that he is also living with depression, he may stand a better chance of approval.
Throughout the Social Security Disability application process, the SSA and Disability Determination Services (DDS) will likely reach out to you for further information. It is important that you respond to any requests right away. Any delays or failure to respond can hurt or slow down your claim. If you do not receive any requests for further information, you should check in with the SSA periodically to make sure that everything is on track.
This will prevent you from forgetting anything and will keep you involved in the process from start to finish. As always, if you have any questions regarding the application process or the status of your claim, don’t be afraid to reach out to the SSA.
Because the application for disability benefits can be a long and complicated process, you may want to consider reaching out to an attorney or advocate. These legal professionals have a thorough understanding of Social Security Disability benefits and can simplify the process for you. An attorney or advocate can stay on top of your claim and help you compile the necessary information throughout the process.
Many applicants choose not to hire an attorney or advocate for fear of additional expenses. However, a Social Security Disability attorney will not get paid unless you are awarded benefits. Even then, the payment is controlled and handled by the SSA. If you are feeling confused or overwhelmed, it may be in your best interest to speak with an attorney. He or she can increase your chances of approval. Learn more about the benefits of hiring an attorney, here: Hire a Qualified Attorney or Advocate.
In the comment section below, let us know what made your claim a success! As always, feel free to leave us any Social Security Disability questions you have and we might address them in a future blog post.