Applying for Social Security disability benefits can seem like quite a challenge. Certainly it can be if you don’t go about it in the right way. Most people have no clue as to where they should begin the process or what they have to do to succeed in getting benefits. By following the five tips laid out below, the Social Security disability application process will be much easier and your application will be far more likely to be approved.
1- Start Right Away!
If you’ve lost your job because of disability, it probably means your finances are eventually going to become strained. Don’t wait until you are virtually broke. A successful Social Security disability claim is based on the disability itself, not on how much money you have remaining in your bank account. Keep in mind that applications sometimes take more than a year to be processed and as much as two years if you need a hearing or have to file an appeal with the Social Security Administration.
Again, you don’t have to be a virtual pauper to get Social Security disability. You can in fact get other benefits from other sources – such as food stamps – without it negatively impacting your application for Social Security disability.
2- Get an Attorney
Before applying, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced attorney. If you are suffering from a disability, it can be overwhelming. This is why it can be more effective and less stressful to allow an attorney to navigate the Social Security bureaucracy for you.
You’ll have a much better chance of getting a fast and favorable outcome if your claim is well-organized and fully documented. Having an attorney represent you in your claim will reduce the stress of the process and greatly increase the chance of getting quickly awarded the highest possible amount.
Under the law, your attorney’s fees must be approved by the Social Security Administration. For all work performed up to the first hearing, attorneys tend to charge the same amount regardless of when they actually became involved. This is usually 25% of the back due benefits awarded by the Social Security Administration.
A qualified disability attorney should:
- Gladly answer any questions you have.
- Aid you in filling out the Social Security paperwork.
- Appear alongside you at the hearing.
An experienced disability attorney should also:
- Help you electronically file your application.
- Help you in organizing your claim.
- Gather and organize complete medical records to support the claim.
- Check to ensure your disability claim is being processed fairly and quickly.
Keep in mind, one of the worst mistakes that any individual can make in attempting to file for Social Security disability benefits is to try to carry out the process themselves, rather than relying on a professional. While appeals may be necessary in either case, the final outcome is much more likely to be positive with the assistance of an attorney.
3- Maintain Careful Records
It’s essential to keep detailed records regarding your disability. Maintain a journal about your disability and the impact it has on you. Include notes regarding your medical appointments and append to them any medical receipts. Record any medical treatments you’ve received and any medications you’ve taken – noting in each instance the success of each.
4- Document Symptoms
Along with medical records, you should document your condition and any associated symptoms. Any symptom – whether or psychological or physical – can be important to the success of your claim. Many disabilities can cause significant psychological strain, frequently resulting in psychological and emotional problems for the disabled individual. If you are diagnosed with anxiety or depression or are facing any mental stress following your disability, this should be noted in your journal. Also record any chronic pain you experience.
5- Involve Your Doctor
As mentioned above, you or your attorney will have to gather all the relevant documents, including those your doctor can provide. If your disability claim is going to be successful, you will need for your doctor to provide a letter describing the limitations your medical conditions impose on you and how they prevent you from returning to work and performing normal activities.