The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not exactly make it easy for applicants to understand how to apply for necessary and much-needed disability benefits following an accident or injury. Applicants for benefits are out of work and in need of financial compensation as soon as possible. A disability lawyer can help you if you are struggling to understand the complex procedures used by the SSA for applicants to apply for and receive disability payments. If you are feeling stress and anxiety about how to apply for your benefits, contact a disability lawyer as soon as possible.
There are three ways to apply for Social Security disability benefits. The SSA permits applicants to apply by telephone, in-person at a local Social Security office and over the internet. To apply by telephone, applicants can reach the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. Upon speaking with a representative, one can either apply over the phone or set up an appointment to meet with a representative in a local Social Security office. Either way, the representative will be able to assist the applicant in how to commence the application process. An application by phone will likely take place at a later date and time from the initial phone call and is set up by appointment.
For those applicants who are familiar and comfortable with the Internet, the SSA provides an online application process available here: www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/adult.htm. For those interested in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), this cannot be performed wholly online; however important forms are available on the website for completion of the SSI application.
All applicants are encouraged to provide the SSA with straightforward and specific information about their disability and are urged not to exaggerate or minimize the truth. The process requires applicants to fully explain why they are unable to work and, especially for those applicants under age 50, why they cannot procure gainful employment anywhere, even in another field.
1. Likelihood of success. If (a) your physical or mental disability is severe, (b) your condition limits your activities of daily living, (c) your medical impairment will last or has lasted longer than 12 months, and (d) your doctor agrees with this assessment, you should apply for Social Security disability.
2. Irrelevant evaluation factors. SSA has a strict definition of disability that ignores many real-life aspects of the job market. Difficulty finding a job, thinking that no one will hire you with your condition, believing you could not pass a job-required physical, or even knowing that the pay you would receive for the work you can do is too little to live on … all of these important real-world considerations do not matter to the Social Security Administration (SSA) when evaluating your claim for benefits.
3. Medical evidence. As is the case with most legal claims, what counts in disability evaluations is what you can prove. If no medical records exist to support your claim of disability, you are unlikely to be successful. SSA figures that if your medical condition is severe enough to keep you from working, then it should justify doctor visits, tests, diagnosis, and treatment.
4. Failure to follow treatment. SSA expects you to try to get better. That means doing what your doctor prescribes. If you do not believe that your doctor’s recommended treatment will help, then be sure your doctor documents the treatment’s odds of success or failure.
5. Keep good records. Conversely, if you do follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment, document your efforts. Without records, you are unlikely to remember the date of every doctor visit, lab test, medicine taken, and therapy received. Obtain the business cards of every doctor you see and file them. Save your pill bottles. Keep notes of your pain and other medical events.
6. Symptoms vs. diagnosis. SSA does not expect you to be an expert on medical conditions. Even if you are, SSA would rather learn about your impairment from your doctor and your medical records. What SSA wants to receive from you are details about your symptoms. For example, how severe is your pain? Is it constant or intermittent? What aggravates your pain? What reduces it? Do you suffer from shortness of breath or fatigue? No one knows your symptoms better than you. Do your best to explain them in detail without exaggerating or minimizing. Do not omit or gloss over any lesser conditions just because you have one severe condition and several minor ones.
7. Physical restrictions. What can’t you do? Sit for lengthy periods? Stand and walk? Lift and carry? Bend, twist, kneel, and stoop? Manipulate objects with your hands? Social Security disability is a functional program. SSA will focus on your limitations rather than your diagnosis.
8. Effect of symptoms and restrictions. How does your medical condition affect your daily activities? Tell SSA about the impact on your personal care (hygiene, dressing, bathing), errands and housework (driving, shopping, cleaning), and social functioning (hobbies, sports, interaction with friends and family).
9. Consistency, accuracy, and honesty. Contradictions, errors, memory lapses, and discrepancies all work to erode your credibility, and nothing will sink your claim faster than questions about your truthfulness.
For more specific and detailed guidance about the Social Security benefits application process, please contact me at:
Terrence L. Parker
Parker Law Offices
Social Security Disability lawyer