Here are six insider tips to keep in mind when applying for Social Security Disability benefits.
- If you are disabled and unable to work, file a claim for Social Security disability immediately. Disability claims typically take a very long time to process and most are denied initially. Additionally, retroactive disability benefits only go as far back as the date you applied.
- Get assistance with the disability application. Many claimants who apply for disability benefits, or file an appeal after being denied, fail to either properly complete their paperwork or just miss the deadline. Either grievance will result in a denial. Hire an attorney or disability advocate from the start to expedite the process.
- Hire an attorney to appeal a denial. With over 70% of applicants being denied initially, most will need to go to an appeal hearing to get approved. And going to a hearing before an administrative law judge without a lawyer will hurt your chances of winning.
- See your physician regularly. Typically, you must be seen by a medical provider at least every two months to be approved for Social Security disability. You should build a good relationship with your doctor so they are cooperative and thorough in providing supporting statements, such as a medical source statement. Additionally, the SSA may cast doubt on the severity of your condition if you are not visiting a doctor often. In the event that your medical coverage is revoked before your claim for benefits is approved, you can still be seen at a local health department, free clinic or urgent care.
- Get your physician to complete an RFC form. Residual Functional Capacity forms are used by DDS examiners to determine what functional abilities you’ve retained despite your condition. Claims examiners are required to have a DDS physician or psychologist complete an RFC form before the case can be closed. If you provide one, they may utilize it to create the internal form, increasing your odds of your claim being approved.
- Do not call the Social Security Administration’s toll-free number for updates. In my experience, claimants are more often than not given incorrect information regarding their case. The SSA call center representatives are consistently out of the loop and routinely fail to deliver correct information. Instead, call either the Social Security office where you filed your claim or the disability examiner at Disability Determination Services.
As a program expert with over 41 years of experience with the Social Security Disability Program, Larry Angelo stands ready to give your Social Security Disability claim the best consideration possible at all levels of appeal.