Thinking about applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because your illness or injury won’t let you work effectively and consistently anymore? Have you heard horror stories about not hearing any result from Social Security for months or even a year?
This guide will help you to avoid common mistakes, address common misconceptions and give you a few tips on how to increase your chances of getting your Social Security benefits fast.
Common mistakes made when applying for SSDI
- Not seeing a doctor for your medical or emotional disability
- Not taking your medications as prescribed
- Applying for unemployment benefits while awaiting the outcome of your application
- Continuing to work after applying for SSDI or SSI
- Not acknowledging the mental effects of your disability or your mental disability itself when applying for SSDI
- Applying for the wrong benefits
- Listing incomplete job history
- Providing incomplete medical history and records
- Grammar, typos, incorrect coding or ID numbers
- Not checking your status after filing
- Not hiring a Social Security disability attorney or advocate
How to get Social Security disability benefits fast
- See if you can qualify for an expedited claims program such as The Wounded Warrior and Compassion Allowance Level (CAL).
- Complete your application and medical forms in their entirety and as accurately as possible.
- Getting these documents together fast is important, but, remember, poor grammar, typos, incorrect codes or numbers will sink your application.
- Make sure all your documentation is in order.
- Document everything, including all your conditions, all your medications, your doctor appointments, doctor and emergency room visits.
- Document everything you have done for the condition that disabled you even if it is unconventional – chiropractic visits, pain management, acupuncture, physical therapy or any sort of counseling or rehab.
- Get all your doctors to put their findings in writing and ask for copies of their visit notes. Keep these together with the test results and make copies of everything.
- With conditions that do not lend themselves to testing such as psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia, your doctor and his or her belief in your disability is even more important. There is no blood test, no MRI, no x-ray that proves you have PsA or Fibromyalgia.
- Your doctor’s diagnosis, treatment, and notes will be more important than ever.
- See a physician who specializes in your disability and has them verify your condition and your disability in writing.
- Make sure everything your doctor says is written down. As far as the Social Security Administration is concerned, if it is not documented, it never happened.
- Ask your specialist to write a letter supporting your inability to participate in gainful employment due to your disability.
- Do everything you can to show that you are in fact disabled and unable to work. If you drive, acquire a handicapped hang tag for your car. If you have ability aids such as canes, walkers, reachers/grabbers, oxygen, etc. make sure you use them always and that your use is visible to neighbors and friends.
- Do your homework. Know what the Social Security Administration expects and what the examiners and physicians of the Disability Determining Services – a government agency – are looking for when they review your application.
- If you can’t do this then consider hiring an SSDI attorney. Someone needs to be intimately familiar with the expectations, including information, records, and even the language used on the application. An attorney experienced in SSDI can put you on the fast track and help you win your case.
- If you consider hiring an SSDI attorney you should know that they all receive the same fee, established by law. The fee is contingent on their winning you disability benefits.
- Be painfully honest. If your disability involves chronic pain but you don’t have it at all times – be specific about how often you do have it and how debilitating it is. If you can’t work 40 hours a week because of it, you should be considered disabled. You are better off being honest instead of saying you can never get out of bed due to pain when in fact you can get up a couple of hours here and there.
- Be especially honest. It will help you win your case in the long run.
- Stay involved. Your job is not over once you have filed your application. You need to stay on top of the progress of your claim. This means you or your attorney will have to call occasionally to inquire about the status of your application. This will remind the examiner to move on your particular case. You can also check to be sure they have all the documentation they need when you call.
- Don’t get discouraged. This process is not always fast. About 75 percent of all SSDI and SI applications are turned down on the first review. Plan on appealing. Your chances of winning the appeal are much better than your chances of winning the first time around.
Common misconceptions about SSDI claims
To understand how to win your Social Security Disability case, you might need some help. There’s a lot of misinformation out there that won’t help you with your case. This section of will set the record straight.
- Misconception: Everyone is turned down the first time they apply.
- Reality: As much as 25 to 35% of all claims are approved the first time.
- Misconception: Children’s disability claims are approved faster than adult claims.
- Reality: All claims are processed in the same timeframes.
- Misconception: There are medical conditions that are automatically and always approved.
- Reality: There is a list of conditions that are prioritized by SSA, but you still must prove you are disabled by that condition.
- Misconception: If your doctor writes a letter to the Social Security Administration you will be approved.
- Reality: The Social Security Administration does not rely completely on information from your doctor to approve or deny benefits.
- Misconception: Everyone who is approved for SSDI receives a lump sum back payment.
- Reality: Many do, but it is dependent upon when you apply and when you were eligible.
- Misconception: If applying for SSDI you are not allowed to earn any income.
- Reality: You can earn up to $1100 per month on SSDI.
- Misconception: If you ever abused drugs or alcohol you will not be approved for SSDI.
- Reality: The Social Security Administration can generally not hold a drug addiction against you, but it is up to you to make sure you claim gets through.
- Misconception: You must wait one year from diagnosis of my disability to apply.
- Reality: You can and should apply the day after you are disabled.
- Misconception: You can’t afford an SSDI attorney.
- Reality: SSDI attorney fees are contingency fees, reasonable and set by law.