In determining if you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or more simply, SSD), the Social Security Administration (SSA) has developed complex rules and regulations.
Disability benefits provide people unable to work due to physical or mental health issues with financial security. Note that these people are not yet retired, but their health condition prevents them from providing for themselves by performing any full-time employment. Only those with a disability that lasts for at least 12 months can apply for benefits. However, if you know you will be disabled in the future, you do not have to wait twelve months after your date of onset to apply.
Reviewing disability claims, the SSA considers the applicant’s age, past work, health status, and the ability for other work. The focus is on estimating the so-called functioning ability rather than specific medical conditions. The SSA examiners will try to review and assess how your condition prevents you from performing vital activities, such as driving, shopping, handling money, paying bills, taking care of personal hygiene, etc.
To help you with your chances of getting the disability benefits you deserve below is some advice.
1. Get familiar with disability policy
To increase your chances of getting disability benefits, you should familiarize yourself with the SSDI policy regarding medical disability benefits. Knowing the filing system and eligibility requirements will help you avoid procedural pitfalls and potential denial of your claim. It is very important that you not miss any deadlines, as doing so could cause you to have to start ALL OVER.
2. Meet all eligibility requirements
After getting familiar with procedural and substantive requirements, decide if you meet the SSA guidelines. Being a legal U.S. resident is a starting point in applying for disability benefits. To be sure you meet other conditions, consult a Social Security Disability benefits lawyer before filing a claim.
3. Present relevant medical records
The central part of your SSDI application is your past medical treatment records. Do not be among those applicants who end up denied because of incomplete medical documentation. Your file must reflect all the details of previous medical treatment so the disability examiner can rely on your file without seeking additional information from you. Due to their workload, they might not have the time or resources to conduct further inquiries. That is why you should provide as many materials as possible. That includes the dates of the treatments and the name and address of medical facilities, your CT scan test results, prescriptions, and other evidence of your disability. These should not be older than ninety days. Lastly, do not forget to keep the copies for yourself.
4. Provide your doctor’s medical opinion
Apart from presenting relevant medical records, your application should contain a written statement from your doctor witnessing the severity of your health condition and the impact on your ability to work. Proving that you received medical treatment in the last three months before filing a claim is vital for your application success. That should include proof of taking any treatment recommended by your doctor, regardless if it led to improvement of your condition.
5. Provide your work and personal records
When applying for medical benefits, you must show that you cannot perform the work you have done in the past. Your work records should date back at least 15 years. Apart from work history, you must state your date of birth, citizenship, and an educational degree in your application.
6. File your claim on time
Processing disability benefits claims takes several months, so make sure you file your claim as soon as possible. Do not forget about the expiration date (your Last Date Insured) on your disability insurance because the SSA may reject your disability benefits claim on procedural grounds. Take care of everything on time so that your process begins before the expiry date on your disability insurance. Also, remember that in most cases, applications get denied, and that only a well-prepared appeal can result in succeeding with your application.
7. Always appeal
In practice, the Social Security Administration denies most disability claims. Only after appealing the decision do some Claimants get the benefits. Rules governing disability benefits provide a short deadline for an appeal (60 days) in which you need to improve your initial application by supporting it with relevant evidence. An appellate procedure runs first before the agency (Request for Reconsideration), and then before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ is independent of the Social Security Administration. At this stage, presenting your claim in more detail is vital to ensuring you receive the benefits you deserve.
If you are seeking a way to improve your chances of success – hiring a EXPERIENCED disability attorney is your best strategy. It may seem that the expense of a disability lawyer is something you cannot afford, but getting your appeal denied is a true dealbreaker. No matter how thorough you prepare your case and learn the procedure, you can not know all disability benefits laws and regulations in North Carolina. An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can make the difference between losing your case and getting well-deserved benefits.
9. Communicate with the other people who should be helping you
Do not assume that your employer or your LTD insurance company will do all the work for you in completing any insurance forms. Always respond to letters and answer their calls. Sometimes they will ask you for information missing from your application. If they do not, call and check up on your case.
10. Track your application
The Social Security Administration deals with hundreds of thousands of claims each year. With such a heavy workload, they can accidentally put aside your file. For that reason, it is best to maintain regular communication with the SSA to ensure your application is on the right track. Sometimes the SSA will ask for additional information or documentation. You should always provide them with the correct phone number and address so they can reach out if there is a need to update your application with a new medical examination or other corroborating materials. Responding promptly to any request the SSA sends you is vital. Hiring an experienced social security benefits lawyer is the best way to maintain smooth and effortless communication with the SSA.
At the Morrison Law Firm PLLC, after many, many years of practice we understand how the Social Security system works. From preparing your application and gathering relevant documentation to filing your disability claim and appealing a decision, we will provide you with top-notch legal service and custom-tailored advice that fits your unique situation.