According to experts, roughly 37 million Americans are considered disabled. More than 50 percent of those people are still within the working ages of 18 and 64. Unfortunately, statistics show that one out of every four 20-year olds will sustain an injury or a medical condition that will render them disabled and unable to work before they retire.
Fortunately, all hope is not lost. If you have been paying your social security taxes and have earned enough work credits, you could be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance. If your application is approved, you will be provided with a monetary benefit based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security.
The Issue Facing Many People
Although Social Security disability benefits can be a godsend for people who have recently suffered a disability, the unfortunate reality is that many people have heard many horror stories surrounding applying for benefits and/or their applications being denied. In turn, some people may either delay or even avoid applying for the benefits they rightfully deserve.
Why are so Many Application Denied?
The Social Security Administration is strict with applications because of a wide range of fraudulent cases in the past. This is certainly a valid reason, but it does often lead to quick denials for even minor errors. Furthermore, many people find the list of “eligible disorders and conditions” to be confusing, which often leads to some people applying for benefits with a condition that isn’t covered.
Other common reasons for being denied include:
- You fail to meet basic non-medical requirements
- Your medical condition will not reach the mandatory 1-year minimum
- Your disability still allows you to find viable employment
- You miss your appointment with the Social Security Administration
If You Need to Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance…
Despite all of this, there is no reason why you shouldn’t apply for disability benefits if you’ve become disabled. That’s why the Social Security Administration offers those benefits in the first place. However, you may not want to try filling out and submitting an application on your own. Unless you are well-versed in the application process, it is in your best interest to work with a respected social security disability lawyer, such as Attorney Gary A. Goldin.
An established disability lawyer can easily help you prepare all the necessary documents and medical information you need to give your chances of getting approved a boost. Additionally, they can help inform you of what to expect prior to any interviews with the Social Security Administration to help prove your disability. The best part is that many of these lawyers offer free initial consultations, so you definitely have nothing to lose and everything to gain by calling a trusted law firm.
Naturally, there are other steps you can take to help improve the chances of your application being approved. These include:
Check the “Blue Book”
One of the first steps the SSA will take when reviewing your application would be to check the “blue book”, a handy guide that lists down the conditions that are covered by Social Security disability insurance. This resource is readily available to the public on the SSA website, so you may want to take the time to check if your condition is listed. If your condition is only alluded to and not specifically stated, ask your disability lawyer for his or her recommendation.
Have a Medical Statement Ready
Medical records and receipts are vital when applying for your disability benefits. However, a good number of people fail to realize that there is another document that they can request from their doctor: a medical statement. This document shows your doctor’s thoughts about your disability, as well as records of how your disability impacts your quality of life and ability to work or find employment.
Record of Work History
Many people who apply for Social Security disability insurance often do so as a “last resort”. In other words, many people try their best to find employment elsewhere before they decide to apply for disability benefits. Be sure to provide a record of your work history, even if you were unsuccessful in finding employment. This shows goodwill on your part and can be a good indicator of just how your disability has prevented you from finding or holding down a job.
What If My Application is Still Denied?
There are many occasions where a strong case may still be denied. When this happens, you are legally allowed to contest the application denial and appeal that decision. Take note that you only have 60 days to do this, so you and your lawyer should make the necessary preparations. In many cases, you and your lawyer will take your case to court in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). When this happens, having an experienced Social Security disability attorney representing you in court is an exceptional advantage. You should also do the following, if possible:
Submit New Medical Evidence
Sometimes, test results and other medical evidence will become available after you’ve submitted your claim, but before your hearing. Be sure to submit any new evidence to the Office of Adjudication and Review prior to your hearing. This allows the ALJ to review the evidence. If submitting it prior to the hearing, bringing new evidence to the hearing is fine.
Practice Your Testimonial
The ALJ will likely ask you a variety of questions regarding your disability, employment history, and your daily life. These questions are easy enough to answer, but the added pressure of being in a courtroom may be a little difficult for many people to handle. Your lawyer can help you practice answering these questions as well as anticipate any “surprise” questions an ALJ may ask you.
Find Expert Witnesses
The diagnoses, treatments, and statements provided by your attending physician are powerful tools in a disability hearing. However, some ALJs may wish to hear the opinion of other medical professionals. Your lawyer will likely handle finding an expert witness for your hearing if there is a need for one, but you may want to ask your lawyer to meet with the expert witness so you can inform him or her of any information that may not be found in your current medical records (new medical evidence).
Disability statistics, disabilitycanhappen.org
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning at a Disability Hearing?, disabilitysecrets.com
Understand How the Social Security Disability Application Process Work, disability-benefits-help.org