Tips for a Successful Social Security Disability Application
Applying for any kind of disability benefit provided by the Social Security Administration can be an intimidating process for first-timers, especially if you have an urgent need for financial support because of your inability to work. On top of that, it is common for the SSA to reject applicants over minor procedural mistakes or omissions, even for people who otherwise meet all the criteria to receive benefits.
There is no substitute for support from a qualified Social Security lawyer when it comes to maximizing your chances of a favorable result from your Social Security benefits application. That said, here are a few basic tips for a successful Social Security disability application that could help streamline the process and improve your odds of getting the benefits you need.
Understand the SSA’s Definition of “Disability”
Both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are reserved only for applicants who can prove they have a qualifying disability. Importantly, the definition that the SSA uses for what counts as a “disability” sometimes differs from the definitions used by the average person and sometimes even doctors. To be eligible for either type of disability benefit mentioned above, you will need to prove that you meet all the following criteria:
- You have sustained physical or mental impairment
- Your disability has already lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months or is expected to directly result in your premature death
- Your disability prevents you from performing “Substantial Gainful Activity,” which generally includes both full-time and part-time work performed for any kind of pay or profit
If you are applying for SSDI, you will also need to prove you have paid enough FICA taxes over the course of your career to meet applicable work credit requirements, as a qualified attorney can further explain.
Be Truthful and Thorough When Describing Your Disability
Your application for Social Security benefits should include every piece of documentation you can find that verifies you meet the requirements mentioned above, including:
- Up-to-date medical reports
- Past records and bills for medical treatment
- Pay stubs and tax returns
- Contemporaneous notes to establish how your condition impacts your daily life
You should also make sure not to exaggerate your disability, as that could lead to your claim being rejected.
Keep Your Doctors in the Loop
The doctors you receive treatment from will serve as vital sources of information for you and the SSA concerning the severity of your disability. With that in mind, you should make sure your treating physicians know you are seeking Social Security benefits. They should also understand every aspect of how your disability negatively impacts your life. Depending on the circumstances, this could mean writing down specific symptoms and noting their frequency and severity, ensuring they know about other treatments you have sought from other medical professionals, and even keeping them updated about the progress of your benefits application.
Enlist the Help of a Social Security Disability Attorney
While following these tips for a successful Social Security disability application will certainly give you better chances of getting the benefits you need, this process can still be incredibly challenging to go through alone. Professional legal guidance could not only help you file the strongest initial application possible, but also assist with handling a potential claim denial.
A knowledgeable Social Security lawyer from our team could discuss your unique case and go through your possible options for pursuing benefits during a free initial consultation. Call Shook & Stone today to get started.