How To Decide If It’s Time to Apply for Disability Benefits

If you are unable to work because of a medical condition, and you are expected to be out of work for at least a year, now is the time to apply for disability benefits. Disability benefits are administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

To qualify, you must meet specific criteria. The monthly benefits can be used to help cover medical care and to help with basic living expenses. This is a closer look at deciding when the time is right to apply for disability benefits.

Is Your Disability Long-Term?

If you suspect your disability might be long-term, you should go ahead and apply for Social Security Disability benefits. The SSA uses a medical guide, which is called the Blue Book, to determine if a claimant meets the required criteria to medically qualify for disability benefits. There are several medical conditions included in the Blue Book and each listing has specific criteria that must be met for a disability claim to be approved and benefits to be awarded.

You will need to provide supporting evidence and documentation that confirms your condition meets the criteria that are listed for that condition. These documents should include medical tests, exam notes, and other supporting documentation. A residual functional capacity (RFC) form completed by your treating physician can also be helpful because it clearly details what you can and cannot do because of your medical condition and confirms the severity of your disability.

To qualify for disability benefits per the SSA criteria, you must show that you are unable to work for at least 12 months. If your disability lasts for fewer than 12 months, you will not qualify for monthly disability benefits from the SSA.

Timing Is Important

It can take several months to maneuver the claims process and to be awarded disability benefits. It is best to apply for disability benefits the moment that you believe you have a long-term disability that will keep you from working and earning a living.

It can help you speed up the claims process and get you closer to being awarded benefits. You want to get access to monthly benefits as quickly as possible because you can face financial struggles while you are waiting for your claim to be approved.

When you apply for disability benefits, the claim is often denied on its initial review. If you wait a few months to start your claim, you may be waiting longer to get a disability check. Living without regular income can be difficult and bills still must be paid, so you need to make sure you get your claim underway as quickly as possible, so you can reduce the delay and get access to disability benefits that you need.

Disability benefits can be used to help with your medical care, and to also cover the costs of living expenses. If you are unable to work for an extended period of time, your family could struggle financial and lack the resources needed to cover basic expenses. The faster you get your claim underway, then the more likely you are to get access to disability benefits faster than if you delayed the application process for an extensive timeframe.  

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Talk To Your Doctor

If you are suffering from medical issues, you should speak with your doctor. It is important to let your doctor know you are considering applying for disability benefits. Your physician may be able to help you determine if your medical records have the details that your claim needs for approval and may be able to help you gather all the supporting evidence that you need for your claim to meet the required criteria to receive monthly benefits.

You will need records that confirm the diagnosis, detail your restrictions and limitations, and discuss your treatment plan and how you have responded to that treatment. Test results, lab reports, and exam notes should be submitted with your claim as supporting evidence.

You will need to provide your medical history and updated documentation and continue with medical care throughout the claims process. You can also benefit from having your physician complete an RFC, which will detail your restrictions and limitations and paint a clear picture of what you can and cannot do.

Having a doctor that supports your disability claim can be very beneficial to the success of your claim. Doctors can be very supportive of the disability claims process and offer help to disabled patients who are trying to get the financial help they need through the disability benefits program. When your doctor is aware of your situation, he or she can help you ensure you have the medical evidence that your claim needs to succeed.

Where To Get Help?

A disability attorney may be able to advise you as to whether it is the best time to go apply for disability benefits. A lawyer may be able to review your claim and the documentation then determine if you qualify for disability benefits or if additional evidence and documentation is needed to succeed with your claim.

Your lawyer may also be able to determine which listing best matches your medical condition, and how you should proceed with your claim. An attorney may be able to help you prepare for the next step as your claim proceeds through the process. If your claim advances to the hearing level, an attorney may be able to help you prepare for the questioning and the hearing before the judge.

Get Help Applying

If you are not sure where to get started with your disability claim, you should complete the Free Case Evaluation Form on this page to share the details with a disability attorney. An attorney can help you determine when the time is right to get your claim started and if you have the supporting documentation needed to have a successful disability claim. Don’t delay putting off getting the help you need for a disability claim.

Additional Resources

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