Top 5 Social Security Disability Claim Tips from Disability Lawyer
1. Submit Your SSDI Claim and any Appeal Paperwork Properly and Timely
In order to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you have to fill out what seems like mountains of forms. Many of these can be filled out online and some can even be filled out over the phone. You can fill these out on your own, you can seek the help of someone at the Social Security Administration (SSA) or you can hire an attorney to help you fill out forms throughout the entire process. The approval rate at each level is so bad, it is advisable to hire an attorney who can help be an advocate for you right at the outset. No matter the level, hiring someone to represent you has been shown to improve your overall odds of being successful. That being said, individuals file a claim on their own and win every day. No matter which route you go, the paperwork needs to be filled out completely and accurately.
Some of the most important information SSA requires is the following:
The onset date is the day that you are alleging you became disabled. Generally, this is the day that you stopped working. It can also be a day where you reduced your hours to part time work. The onset date is the day that your ailment(s) became so bad that you were no longer capable of performing full time work. Selecting a date later than that particular point in time could result in you losing thousands of dollars in back pay.
It is extremely important to provide SSA with every one of your medical providers. Neither your attorney or the SSA can obtain this information without your help. Be thorough and be complete. Know the general dates of your treatment and the actual location of where that treatment took place. At best, missing medical records could delay your decision. At worst, it could cause you to receive an unfavorable decision.
SSA will need to determine whether or not you can perform your past work. If you can do your past work, you are not ‘disabled’ under the rules and regulations of the Administration. In order to make that determination, the administration needs to know details about all the jobs that you have held in the last 15 years. It’s important to describe these jobs accurately while keeping in mind that it is not a job interview. Do not exaggerate your supervisory duties or the mental complexities of the job. Additionally, do not underestimate the physical aspects of the job.
2. Get Treatment
Consistent medical treatment is hands down the most important thing you can do to improve your odds of winning. Being unable to work, however, often means losing your insurance or being unable to afford consistent medical treatment. Despite that fact, you need medical evidence to support your claim for disability. No decisionmaker can find you disabled absent medical evidence. There are many no-to-low-cost medical providers. Insurance via the affordable care act is often more affordable than you think. It is up to you to find a way to get treatment, not only will it help your case, but more importantly it will help you as well. Additionally, if the Administration requests, you should attend an independent examination. If you fail to attend a requested exam, you will be denied. These are often requested when there is not enough medical evidence available to decide your case.
One of the most important and helpful pieces of additional evidence you can provide is:
RFC for physical ailments or an MRFC for mental ailments
These forms need to be completed by your doctor. A decisionmaker can use these forms to help make a determination as to whether or not you meet the SSA’s definition of disability. This will also help establish what you are or are not capable of doing on a regular basis. Generally speaking, doctors are only willing to fill these out if they have an existing relationship with you. That being said, there are many who refuse to fill them out for anyone.
3. Keep DDS up to Date
This process can literally take years. Because it takes so long, clients often get ‘lost’. They move, they get new phones and they get new doctors. The Administration and/or their law firm are then not able to locate them. It is your responsibility to keep DDS up to date with all of this information. If you have hired a lawyer, you need to let your law firm know so they can inform SSA. Lost claimant cannot be awarded benefits.
4. Respond to DDS Timely
If the Administration sends you a form; fill the form out as soon as possible. If someone calls you, return that call as soon as possible. There are many pieces that go into ultimately making a decision on your case. The quicker the decisionmaker receives those various pieces, the quicker a decision on your claim can be made. If you fail to provide specific information timely, your case will be denied for failing to comply.
5. Don’t Quit
The process can take years and the denial rate at each level of the disability process is high. Often people get frustrated with the process and quit. I can understand why they would quit. 65% of claimants are denied at the initial level, 85% are denied at the reconsideration level and 53% are denied at the hearing level. Keeping all of that in mind, over 50% of the people who apply for disability ultimately win. It can take years, just do not give up. Too many people who would have ultimately won quit after being denied at the initial level. Hang in there and see the process to the end. More often than not you will get a result you will be happy with.