The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability program is a federal insurance program that provides monthly benefits to people who have a medically determinable impairment that restricts their ability to work. Applying for disability benefits or navigating an appeal can be complicated. In many cases, you may have to fight for the monthly benefits you deserve.
Because the Social Security disability process can be difficult to navigate, plenty of people make common mistakes that can ruin their disability claim. By recognizing and avoiding the common mistakes listed below, you will be in a better position to win the benefits you deserve.
1. Failing to Provide Sufficient Medical Evidence
When deciding whether or not you are disabled, the Social Security Administration looks at medical records from your medical providers. It is important to gather a complete medical history, document current impairments and limitations, and follow up on missing records.
- Gather a complete medical history Maintain a list with the name and contact information of any specialist doctors that you have been referred to in the past to evaluate your condition or discuss treatment options. Often, an examining doctor may ask whether you have been evaluated by a specific type of clinician or have recent tests and scans, and it can be extremely helpful to have this information on hand. You want to make sure that any new doctors (examining or treating physicians) can get up to date on your condition and treatment history during your scheduled meetings, as sometimes this information can be missing from your files or can be incomplete.
- Document current impairments and limitations Avoid the social nicety of telling your treating physicians that you feel “fine” if you do not. Be frank and truthful about your abilities and limitations with doctors and other professionals evaluating your disability. Your doctors are recording what you tell them, and if you are trying to be polite by glossing over your level of pain or physical limitations, this will create an inaccurate record of your actual disabling conditions.
- Follow up on missing records
If the Social Security Administration cannot obtain documents or medical records, applicants must provide them to the SSA. Make sure to keep an open communication with your medical providers and their offices. Do not let important records fall through the cracks.
2. Overstating or Exaggerating the Disability
The Social Security Administration will ask you how your disability affects your ability to work and your activities of daily living. It is important that you honestly and accurately state your medical condition and the symptoms that you experience when moving through the disability process. When asked questions, answer them honestly. On an application or appeal, do not embellish symptoms or limitations.
Moreover, the SSA will review all of your medical records and documents. Make sure that disability descriptions match across all documents. Consistency can be critical to a disability case and contradictions can weaken credibility.
3. Failing to Follow Prescribed Treatments
When evaluating disability, the Social Security Administration will determine if a claimant failed to follow the prescribed treatment. If you do not follow your prescribed treatment, and if you fail to provide a good reason for doing so, The SSA may deny your claim.
Do everything that you can to follow your doctors’ recommendations. The support of your doctors is invaluable during the disability application and appeals process. The SSA often reviews claims with an eye toward evaluating whether an individual is doing everything reasonably possible to improve their health problem, so it is important that you follow your doctors’ orders and treatment recommendations.
4. Submitting Incomplete or Incorrect Information
Throughout the claims process, the SSA will send out forms or questionnaires for you to complete. Some forms only require your signature. Other questionnaires require that you answer questions about your prior work history or your disability. You’ll need to make sure that you respond to all requests from the SSA promptly. Failing to respond to requests in a timely manner can lead to a denial.
It’s also important that you update any change with the Social Security Administration. If there is a change to your income, work activity, medical providers, or even your address, you’ll need to inform the SSA. Do not let case information become outdated.
5. Not Having Adequate Legal Representation
The Social Security disability process can be difficult to navigate. Mastery of medical and legal details can be difficult to understand. In Social Security disability cases, professional assistance is invaluable.
You can consult with an attorney at any step in the process. It can be helpful to consult an attorney before you apply for benefits. If you have been denied, a representative can also assist you in filing an appeal. At LaPorte Law firm, we have experience navigating the Social Security disability process, from application through every stage of appeal.
If you have any questions about your social security disability case, contact our office for a free consultation.
In order to become eligible for Social Security disability benefits, your disability must be permanent. The definition of a permanent disability is a disability that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
To give you the best chance of winning a disability claim, it is important that you do not wait too long to apply. The Social Security disability application can take, at a minimum, several months to process. If an application is denied, the appeals process can take as long as a few years so it is important not to delay your claim.
While you do not want to wait too long to apply for disability benefits, it is important to avoid applying too early. Before you apply for disability, take the time to compile all of the necessary facts and documentation of your disability. If you apply too early for benefits, the SSA may deny your claim due to a durational issue. The SSA may assume that your disability is short-term or may improve.
Contact LaPorte Law Firm to consult with a representative about the right time for you to apply for benefits.
Unlike with other disability programs, the Social Security Administration will consider all impairments that affect your ability to work. It is important that you list all symptoms and limitations that affect your ability to work when you file an application for disability benefits.
Many claimants mistakenly believe that they cannot afford to hire an attorney to represent them in a Social Security disability application or appeal. In most situations, you do not have to pay any attorney fees upfront or any out-of-pocket expenses. Social Security disability attorneys work on a contingency basis — they only get paid if you win your case. If your case is approved and you are owed a lump-sum back payment, we will be paid a percentage of your retroactive benefits once they have been awarded to you. We typically pay upfront for any additional fees related to your case, such as medical record retrieval, and will only bill you once your benefits have been awarded to you, meaning you will have no out-of-pocket expenses during the claim process.
All of your future benefits are yours. We will never take any fee or percentage of your future monthly benefits.