Top 10 mistakes to avoid when filing for Social Security Disability

checklistEvery year, millions of people apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Many people, who are legitimately disabled are denied for various reasons. Below are some of the most common reasons disability claims are denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA)

  1. You are not getting adequate medical treatment: The government largely depends on your medical treatment records to determine the extent and severity of your medical impairments. Sometimes the government will deny a claim because there is just not enough treatment. The government will often equate the lack of medical treatment as a sign that either your medical condition has improved or it is no longer a problem. Try to work closely with your doctor to get both the quality and quantity of treatment that your medical limitations require.

  1. You do not meet the non-medical or financial requirement of disability: There are two main programs for Social Security Disability: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both of these programs have medical and non-medical requirements that you must be found “Disabled”. The financial requirements are complex for each program. Be sure that your application for benefits includes both programs. It is important thing to know that the government will not look at your medical condition, no matter how severe, if you do not meet their non-medical/financial eligibility requirements.

  1. Your medical condition has not lasted long enough: To be found disabled, your medical condition must prevent you from full time work for at least one year, or result in death. Many times the government will assume that your medical condition will significantly improve if the impairment occurred less than a  year ago.

  1. Not cooperating with the Social Security Administration: When you file for Social Security Disability, there are so many forms that must be submitted and appointments to keep. If you fail to submit any one of these forms or you fail to respond to Social security’s calls or appointments, your case will be denied.

  1. Not following up with the government every 30 days: It is important to know the status of your case. Many times there are forms or medical records that the government needs. Or worse, a decision has been made on your case without your knowledge. This could cause you to miss a deadline and require you to start the whole process all over! We had one client who, before hiring the Packard Law Firm, thought the process would take a long time and so she did not follow up for 18 months following her initial application. Unfortunately, the government had only worked on her claim for two weeks. Her claims representative was waiting for my client to return a medical authorization signature so that the government could begin ordering medical records. All that wasted time could have been avoided had she been actively following up with the status of her case.

  2. Not getting help because you think you cannot afford a disability lawyer: Social Security disability applications are time consuming and complex. There is so much work to be done and it can be difficult to put together a convincing application without help. The good news is that like most law firms, the Packard Law Firm charges on a contingency basis. This means that there is no fee up front. In fact, there is NO FEE AT ALL unless you win! You can get the help from an experienced disability attorney immediately and pay the attorney fee a percentage of the retroactive benefits you receive after you win. If you don’t win the case, you don’t pay anything.

  1. Waiting for medical treatment or records before filing an application: The process for filing and obtaining benefits can drag on for a long time. It is not uncommon for the process to last anywhere from 3 months to two years! If you think that your medical condition will get worse over time or that you are about to get vital medical treatment or tests, it is still best to get started right away. The government will always allow you to update or submit new evidence as it becomes available. In addition, many times the amount of your back pay is limited to the time you file your application! The bottom line is, if you feel you can’t work full time, it is always best to get started right away.

  1. Collecting unemployment benefits while filing for Social Security benefits:  When you file for Social Security Disability benefits, you are stating that you have a medical problem that makes you unable work full time. However, when you file for unemployment benefits, you are saying that you are “ready, willing, and able to work”. You see the conflict. Although there are some exceptions for individual over the age of 50, attempting to claim both forms of benefits can significantly compromise your credibility.

  1. Being vague about your employment history or medical limitations: Disability is not only about your medical records, but also about how you describe your limitations and your work history. When you are vague or ambiguous about your limitations and work history, you are preventing the government from being able to know how your medical impairments have changed the way you work; the way you live.

  1. Giving up: It is so common for people to become frustrated and discouraged by the Social security system. By some accounts, over 50% of denied applicants will simply walk away. The ironic truth is that the vast majority of those that appeal their decision ultimately win their case. Success can come with perseverance and time.

If you are concerned about you Social Security Disability claim, hiring an experienced team of lawyers and support staff can make an enormous difference. If you want to start working today toward getting approval for your Social Security disability claim, call the Packard Law Firm at 210-880-9395 to schedule your free consultation!