Hopefully you never have a serious medical problem that would prevent you from working. But if you do, you should seriously consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits. This insurance program is invaluable to millions of Americans living with serious health conditions because it provides the much-needed monetary and medical benefits to help them get through treatment and recovery. If you’re in the process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits or you’re thinking about applying, there are a few common mistakes you’ll want to avoid to ensure your claim for benefits moves through the process as smoothly as possible.
- Applying when you don’t meet the basic requirements –In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, you must have a medical condition that will keep you from working for one year (or more) or result in death. You must also have paid into the system for a certain amount of time depending on your age. Generally that will be five out of the past 10 years. Finally, as of 2015, you cannot earn more than $1,090 per month. If you don’t meet these basic requirements, you will not be approved for benefits.
- Filing a new application instead of appealing the decision- The Social Security Administration estimates that roughly 65 percent of initial applications are denied for some reason or another. If your application is rejected, donâ€™t just file a new one; appeal the decision! There should be instructions on how to do this within your notice of decision letter. Just be sure to appeal within 60 days, otherwise you will need to start the process over again.
- Stopping medical treatment- When you have a disabling condition, it’s easy to get frustrated and stop seeking medical treatment, especially if your doctor tells you there’s not much more they can do for you. However one of the primary things the Social Security Administration looks at is your medical documents and history. If you stop going to the doctor, that documentation is going to be sparse, which could lead to a rejection for benefits. Keep going to the doctor, even if it’s just for checkups. It’s probably the best thing you can do to help your case.
- Waiting to file for benefitsâ€”If you qualify for benefits, apply for them right away. Don’t wait until your own resources run out. Getting approved for benefits can be a long, drawn-out process, often lasting up to two years. You will need those resources just to get through it.
- Giving up- If you are denied for benefits, don’t just give up. Keep trying! You’ve earned these benefits, so make sure you get the chance to use them. Find out why you were denied and look for ways to address those issues. Oftentimes all it takes is working closely with your doctor or an attorney to make sure you have everything properly documented.
- Not including all requested information on application materials- The Social Security Disability application isn’t just something you can fill out in five minutes. It’s a fairly long process and asks for quite a bit of detailed information, such as doctor names, doctor addresses, doctor phone numbers, hospitals and clinics you’ve been treated at, 15 years of work history, financial documents, etc. Take the time to gather all the materials and fill it out completely. If you are missing any application information, the Social Security Administration may just issue an automatic denial without taking the time to look at your medical information.
- Going through the process alone- When you’re living with a disability, the last thing you want to do is worry about filing paperwork or calling the Social Security Administration to follow up on your claim. You should highly consider consulting with a Social Security Disability attorney to help you with your case. Not only will an attorney handle all the paperwork, but they are more familiar with Social Security’s process. So your odds of approval will actually go up.
Now that you know the most common mistakes people make when applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you can take steps to proactively avoid them. If you think you’ve made one of these mistakes, don’t fret! There’s still time to fix it. Contact an attorney to discuss your options going forward or schedule an appointment with your local Social Security office to update the information on your claim.
Article By Jennifer Smith