On the surface, applying for Social Security disability benefits looks like a simple process -- you fill in an application and then wait for approval or rejection. Unfortunately, that process also includes a minefield of of potential sticking points, each of which can lead to a small but critical error barring from much-needed payments. Here are some smart tactics that can help you sidestep these mistakes and smooth the way for a successful Social Security disability application.
Unless you have an obviously devastating long-term or permanent disability or already have a detailed understanding of Social Security forms, your smartest first move will be to engage a Social Security lawyer, such as Todd East Attorney at Law. This type of professional can provide instant expertise so you don't have to grope blindly through the complex process by yourself. An attorney will also know exactly what types of supporting data need to be gathered (and where to get them), how to decipher the sometimes-tricky terminology in the application forms and how to make the best possible case on your behalf. If you end up having to go to court to fight for your claim, you'll be glad you already have this expert in your corner.
If you're already in dire financial straits at the time of your disability application, you may wonder how in the world you're supposed to pay for attorney on top of everything else. The good news is that a Social Security lawyer will work a disability case on contingency, getting paid only if you're awarded your benefits. The lawyer then receives a percentage of the back pay awarded to you by the Administration (or a flat fee of $6,000, whichever method comes out to less money). The only caveat is that you may have to pay a small sum for the attorney's out-of-pocket expenses, win or lose.
Fill in the Blanks (Correctly)
Social Security disability forms distribute a dizzyingly long list of disability categories across a two--part Listing of Impairments. In many cases the terms are by no means self-explanatory, and it's all too easy to classify yourself under the wrong disability. This is a critical reason to have a Social Security lawyer handle the documentation. You'll also have to provide a large body of medical documentation going back as far as the earliest signs of your impairment. Your attorney can track down and obtain the exact records you need to present your case.
Simply submitting the wrong forms of forms can derail your Social Security application right from the beginning. This is an easier trap to fall into than you might think because there are different types of Social Security benefits, each of which requires its own specific application. For instance, if you've paying tax dollars into Social Security over a certain period of years, you may qualify for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), in which you need to fill out that application form. If you haven't been able to make those payments, then you may need to apply for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) instead. Fill out the wrong form for your situation, and you can expect to have your application denied.
Update Your Data Before the Hearing
If your application for disability has been denied twice by Social Security, you still have the option to taking your case to court in a hearing. In certain circumstances, you may not even have to make an appearance in court yourself -- your Social Security lawyer may be able to persuade the judge to issue an OTR ("on the record") ruling ion your favor based on the evidence presented.
Updating your information for the hearing can be a major factor in your success or failure. That's because Social Security disability claims place a high value on the "recency" of your medical documentation, defining 90 days as "recent." This means if that if you don't add supportive medical data from the previous 90 days into your claim, you may lose your case on that basis.
Put these intelligent tactics to work for your Social Security claim, and you'll have a better chance of receiving your disability benefits. Good luck!