Applying for Social Security Disability benefits without the proper understanding or knowledge can be compared to navigating murky waters on a cloudy day without a light or a compass. What things should you absolutely know in order to avoid the most common application mistakes? What can you expect during the disability application process? If you want to increase your chances of receiving a favorable decision regarding your Social Security Disability claim and want to avoid common misconceptions, there are five facts you absolutely can't live without. Don't file your disability application with the Social Security Administration (SSA) before becoming familiar with the following advice.
#1: Less is Not More
The age-old saying “Less is more” does not apply to Social Security Disability applications. When filing a claim for disability benefits, you need to include as much information and documentation as possible with your application. Your medical records will contain the evidence needed to prove your disability to the SSA. The more medical evidence you can provide, the more evidence you will have to support your claim for disability benefits.
#2: Your Application Will Probably Be Denied
Many applicants submit their Social Security Disability applications and assume that they will be approved within a few short months after the date of their application. This is rarely the case. While it is true that the initial disability claim process only takes three to four months to complete, the majority of applications are denied at this stage. In fact, only about 30 percent of applicants will receive an approval of their initial disability application. The remaining 70 percent of applicants must go on to file an appeal in order to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
To play it safe, do not assume that your application will be approved at the initial stage of the disability claim process. It can take more than a year to begin receiving benefits from the SSA. On account of this, you should plan accordingly. If you assume that you will begin receiving payments in just three or four months and do not make the proper financial accommodations, you may find yourself in a financial crisis when you are waiting out the lengthy disability appeals process.
#3: You are More Likely to be Approved on the Appeal
Many people are surprised to find out that their chances of being awarded disability benefits are actually greater at the hearing stage of appeals than at any other point of the Social Security Disability claim process. While less than one-third of disability claims are awarded at the initial application stage, two-thirds of appeals are decided in favor of applicants at Social Security Disability hearings. This is one of the primary reasons that applicants should not become discouraged when their initial application for benefits is denied, although it is important to understand that it may take more than a year to actually be scheduled for your disability hearing.
#4: You Do Not Lose Benefits During the Appeal
Some people worry that the longer it takes to be awarded Social Security Disability benefits, the longer the Social Security Administration gets away without paying them. This isn't the case. When you are awarded disability benefits as a result of your appeal, the Social Security Administration will provide you with disability back payments. If it is determined that you were disabled when you applied for benefits and it takes you two years to go through the appeal process, you will be entitled to two years worth of back payments from the SSA.
#5: A Lawyer Can Make or Break Your Case
Many people try to represent themselves during the Social Security Disability appeal process. While the SSA does not have rules against this, it is probably a task best left to a qualified professional. Your chances of being awarded disability benefits as a result of your appeal are significantly increased with proper legal representation. This is why you should consult with a disability attorney if you need help applying for disability benefits or appealing a denial.
Fortunately hiring a Social Security Disability attorney does not cost an arm and a leg. Social Security lawyers work on a contingency basis and collect twenty-five percent of your disability back payments or $6,000 (whichever is less). For example, if you were awarded $10,000 in disability back payments your attorney would receive $2,500 of that amount. If you were awarded $30,000 your attorney would only receive $6,000 and not the full twenty-five percent of your back payment.