I represent hundreds of clients every year in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims and there are things that I take for granted people know. However, since they don’t do this every day, they simply do not. In this blog I’ll share some things that I believe should be mentioned.
- Apply right away. What are you waiting for? File an application the first day you are unable to work full time. Sure, there may be technical and medical reasons why you do not qualify, but the application is free. If you do not have an attorney to explain these medical and technical reasons to you, let the Social Security Administration (SSA) explain them. I have seen clients wait too long to file an application and find themselves having a harder time because their disability insurance had expired. Also, it is important to note that SSI payments can only be paid retroactively from your date of application.
- File your appeals timely! Most appeals only allow for 60 days plus a short grace period for mailing time. You do not want to have to start over from the beginning, so get the Request for Reconsideration or Request for Hearing completed quickly.
- If you can afford it, see your doctors. Most Social Security disability cases are won through medical records. Objective tests, progress notes, and physician statements can be crucial in proving you qualify for the benefits you need to support you and your family.
- When you go to your hearing, strive to ensure your medical record is up to date. If you do not have an attorney, do not count on the SSA to get your medical records. Why would you? Up to this point, they have continually denied your claim. There is no one that has more of an interest in your claim than you! Contact all your medical providers, and get your medical records then submit them to the SSA.
- Be able to tell the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) why you are disabled. If you are unable to sit, stand, walk, lift, or concentrate long enough to work an eight-hour day, then let the ALJ know. Be prepared to give examples.
If you have a Social Security disability lawyer, he or she should be able to elaborate on this information. The process can be a long, drawn out, confusing endeavor. If you do not have a representative, stay on top of your claim. At some point in your claim process, you may be furnished a CD with all your documentation the SSA has obtained. Reviewing this CD may help you see how the SSA is organizing and completing your file.
The above information is not intended as legal advice, so if you feel uncomfortable representing yourself, I strongly urge you to seek legal counsel. My office does not charge for an initial consultation and would welcome the opportunity to help you better understand the process.