Social Security Disability claims are a government maze, but it is possible to be approved at the first application level.
Here are 5 tips that will help you navigate the Social Security disability process.
- Keep copies of everything
Keep a copy of your application, as well as any disability/work history reports that you file. That way, if you do need to appeal, you will have all of your documents together.
- Be persistent and communicate
Your initial application is handled by a local office, called the “field office” (FO). Find out who is handling your claim at the FO, and contact that person at least every other week to determine if more information is necessary for your claim.
- Get your doctors to support your Social Security disability claim
Without your doctors’ records, Social Security cannot make an accurate decision about your claim. Many claims are denied because the Field Office didn’t receive critical medical records. Contact your doctors, and make sure that they are aware of your SS claim, and provide all of the records requested.
- Attend the examinations that Social Security schedules for you
Often, Social Security will schedule examinations, either physical or psychological, with a physician that they choose. Attend the examinations, and cooperate, but pay attention to how long the exam is, and what takes place during the exam. If your claim is denied, this information may help you on appeal.
- Ask for help if you need it
Don’t be afraid to hire someone to represent you in your Social Security claim. If you are denied at the initial stage, you will probably wait at least a year before you have a hearing. Having legal help may get you approved more quickly , and without a hearing. Most lawyers will represent you on a contingency, which means that the attorney gets paid only if SS awards you back-benefits.
The Social Security Administration has a very helpful website, where you can even apply for disability benefits online: www.ssa.gov