Each and every year, more than two-million people apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Unfortunately, the majority of these applications are denied at the initial stage of the application process. In fact, as many as 70 percent of disability applications are denied by the Social Security Administration. Oftentimes this is due to mistakes on the part of the disability applicant. If you want to increase your chances of being approved for disability benefits, you will want to avoid the most common mistakes that applicants make when applying for benefits from the Social Security Administration. The following top five mistakes are the most common mistakes made by disability applicants.
Mistake #1: Filing a Disability Claim While Working
Technically, there is no rule against filing a disability claim when working a job, but chances are that your claim will not be approved if you do so. When applying for Social Security Disability benefits you are claiming that you need the benefits because you are unable to perform substantial gainful work activity. If you are working and earning an income when you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you are contradicting your claim that you are unable to work. This means that your chances of being awarded disability benefits are slim to none.
Mistake #2: Applying for Disability Benefits Too Soon
In order to qualify for disability benefits, your disabling condition must be expected to last for twelve months or longer. If you apply for benefits too soon, it may be harder to prove that you are suffering from a long-term or permanent disability. The Social Security examiner may assume that your condition will improve before you would qualify for the benefits you are applying for. Because of this, you should only apply for benefits once it has been established that your disability will indeed last for one year or more.
Mistake #3: Assuming the Consultative Exam will Provide Sufficient Proof
Some people go into the Social Security Disability application process without obtaining enough medical evidence to support their claim. They do this assuming that the consultative exam ordered by the Social Security Administration will provide sufficient evidence to prove their disabling condition. The fact of the matter is that consultative exams rarely, if ever, provide enough evidence to prove a disability in and of themselves. Instead, the findings of the consultative exam are meant to be used in conjunction with your supporting evidence in order to deny or approve your claim for disability benefits.
Mistake #4: Failing to Abide by Prescribed Treatments
In some cases, a Social Security Disability applicant will refrain from getting or following medical treatments, thinking that the treatment will interfere with the severity of their condition and may prevent them from obtaining the disability benefits they need. The fact of the matter is that the Social Security examiner reviewing your claim will also review your treatment history. The examiner will be checking to see if you have undergone treatment for your condition and will want to see how well you have responded to any treatment that has been prescribed to you. If you have not followed the treatment recommended to you by your doctor, your disability application may be denied because of this fact.
Mistake #5: Failing to Obtain Legal Representation For Your Appeal
If your initial application for disability is denied by the SSA, you will want to hire a disability attorney to represent you during your disability appeal. Your chances of being awarded benefits during the appeal process are significantly increased with proper legal representation. Many people forgo hiring an attorney because they feel they cannot afford one. Fortunately, Social Security attorneys work on a contingency basis, being paid a percentage of the back pay you receive from the Social Security Administration. Only after you are approved for disability benefits can your lawyer receive either 25-percent of your disability back-payment or $6,000 (whichever is less). If your disability application is denied, consult with a disability lawyer prior to filing an appeal of the SSA's decision.
While it is true that the majority of Social Security Disability applications are denied at the initial stage of the application process, you can significantly increase your chances of a favorable decision by following the advice above. If your initial application for benefits is denied, contact a Social Security attorney prior to filing your appeal with the Social Security Administration. Your attorney will be able to walk you through the appeal process and can provide you with proper representation during the hearing stage of the Social Security Disability appeals. Statistics show that applicants who have an attorney representing them at their hearing before an Administrative Law Judge are more likely to receive benefits than those who try to represent themselves.