Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits provide financial support for people who become disabled prior to retirement age, but approximately 70 % of all disability claims are initially denied. However, there are some key steps you can take to increase your chances of approval.
Provide Hard Medical Evidence
A qualifying disability is one that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in your death. Some common disabilities that may qualify for benefits include vision or hearing loss, musculoskeletal problems, intellectual disability, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s Disease, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.
You may think your disability is self-explanatory, but your SSD claim requires documentation of your condition. This can include:
- Your primary care doctor’s assessment of your condition
- Copies of X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other relevant diagnostic tests
- A list of medications you are taking
- Detailed notes from specialists you’ve consulted
- Relevant statistics related to your case, such as the number of seizures you’ve experienced between doctor visits
Your medical evidence should be as timely as possible. Generally, officials place the highest value on evidence that was obtained within the last six months. This is because many disabling conditions are progressive and can change the patient’s prognosis fairly rapidly.
Explain How Your Disability Prevents You from Working
You can’t receive SSD simply because you are disabled. Your disability must be one that prevents you from working.
Your age, education, training, and past work history are all relevant factors in determining if your disability is one that will prevent you from working. For example, a 50-year-old high school graduate who has held manual labor positions for the past 30 years would find it very difficult to continue working if he suffered from back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. However, if the same man was a college graduate who had worked as a computer programmer, his condition wouldn’t necessarily prevent him from working.
Think about specific job tasks, such as sitting, standing, lifting, and using a computer, that may be affected by your disability. Prepare your application in a way that documents these forms of impairment.
Listen to Your Doctor’s Recommendations
If you do not follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations, this casts doubt on the seriousness of your disability. To prevent people who can work from receiving government benefits, the approval process for the program is quite strict.
The best course of action is to be honest with your doctor about your concerns, so you can work together to find the best possible solution. If transportation to physical therapy is difficult, your doctor might be able to transfer you to a provider closer to your home. If you are bothered by the side effects of a new medication, there may be a different prescription you can try.
Limit Your Income
It’s a common misconception that income only matters when you are applying for SSI benefits. SSD benefits require you to be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA).
For 2019, SGA is defined as making more than $1,220 per month or $2,040 if you're blind. However, if you’re currently receiving SSD benefits, there is a trial period where your earnings can exceed the SGA threshold without affecting your benefits. The purpose of this trial period is to encourage individuals to return to work if they become able to do so.
Cooperate With the Social Security Office
The process of applying for disability benefits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Nevertheless, you are required to cooperate fully with the Social Security office. This includes attending any scheduled medical exams, as well as supplying requested documentation in a timely manner.
Don’t File a Second Claim as an Alternative to the Appeals Process
If your initial application is denied, you must go through the SSD appeals process to try to receive benefits. You should not file a new application. If you file a second claim, you will be denied as soon as the person reviewing the application sees that you’ve been denied benefits once before. This only wastes valuable time that could be better used by building the strongest possible appeal.
Consult an Attorney
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has detailed rules for receiving SSD benefits. If you try to complete the application yourself or seek the assistance of a non-attorney representative, small mistakes can create delays that jeopardize your future financial security.
The assistance of an attorney can be invaluable throughout the application process. Statistics show that individuals who have an attorney assist in preparing their application are roughly twice as likely to receive benefits as those who lack legal representation.
Have You Or A Loved One Been Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you or a loved on has been denied Social Security Disability Benefits you need to speak with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Virginia Beach office directly at 757.490.3500 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Suffolk.