Social Security Disability, SSDI Tips to win your case.
First, lack of medical treatment, embellishing injuries, non-severe injuries in toto, and other significant problems factually are fundamentally flawed cases. In general these types of problems with individual cases will not be overcome because you can not make gold out of empty boxes. However, having a case that can go either way by following this blueprint, it will make a difference and help you get approved.
Understand, applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI and/or SSI) is going to be a complicated process. The number one tip is hire Betz and Baril or another competent Social Security Disability lawyer. This in and of itself, WILL greatly improve your chances of winning benefits. There are many other issues that you can do on your own to help your case. Here is a list of some helpful hints on applying for SSDI and/or SSI:
- Make a List of all Doctors and Hospitals: Many time Social Security Disability Claims are denied or delayed because the Social Security Administration is unable to obtain important medical records. This problem usually occurs because the name of the doctor is spelled incorrectly or the doctor's address is incorrect. It is also important to be prepared to give the Social Security Administration fairly accurate dates of medical treatment. You must also write down the names of all the hospitals, clinics and emergency rooms you have visited. Persons who suffer from chronic conditions often find themselves overwhelmed with the extensive number of medical appointments. Ask a friend or a relative to help keep track of all this information.
- Don't Miss Any Appeal Periods and Keep Records of Your Appeal: A Claimant has 60 days to appeal a denial of benefits. (There is a 5 five day grace period that takes into consideration the time that the denial letter takes to be delivered by mail. Therefore, in reality the appeal period is extended to 65 days.) It is important not to miss this deadline. It is also extremely important to obtain a written confirmation from the Social Security Administration that shows that an appeal has been completed. In addition, you must make a note to yourself with the date and time that you filed the appeal.
- Document All Your Contacts with the Social Security Administration: Unfortunately, Social Security offices are understaffed and many of their employees are over worked. Our office finds that, in some instances, paperwork is lost or/and applicants are given the wrong information by the SSA Field Office personnel. For this reason, it is a good idea for applicants to maintain a written log of all the contact that they have had with Social Security and the exact nature and content of the information provided by Social Security. This might be extremely helpful later on in the process, particularly if you decide to hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer and he or she is attempting to maximize the amount of retroactive money that you will receive for your Social Security Disability case.
- If You Are Represented and Get a Denial Letter, Call Your Lawyer: If you are represented by our office and you get a denial letter, we ask you to call us right away. The reason for this is that we have found that lately, Social Security has forgotten to send us a copy of denial letters. This has happened where we are representatives on the file in the past, not very often but it can happen.
- Follow up on your medical conditions: You need to make appointments with all the doctors that have been treating you, particularly those that know the most about your disability. The purpose of the visit is to make sure that the medical files are updated with the status of your condition. Sometimes conditions have worsened but the medical files do not reflect your current status accurately. You should also ask the doctor if he or she would be willing to complete a questionnaire or write a letter detailing your limitations.
- If working on a limited basis, be careful not to work over the SGA: To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount is considered to be engaging in SGA. The monthly SGA amount for non-blind individuals for 2021 is $1300 a month. Often disabled individuals take limited part-time jobs to make ends meet during tough economic times. In many instances, when the pay received is under the SGA level, this practice does not impact their eligibility for Social Security benefits.
- Prepare a work history: Every claimant should prepare an outline of the jobs held during the 15 years prior to the date of the onset of the disability. Be ready to describe the nature of each one of these jobs with specific emphasis on the physical requirements of each one of the occupations held. It is important to remember the dates, the general duties and the approximate pay rate of each job. Social Security judges often ask claimants specific questions about their prior jobs.
- Show up to your Consultative exam on time. The doctor doing your CE could be the most important documentation you receive that will make or break your case.
- Be Careful on How You Characterize Your Activities of Daily Living: In the early stage of the application process, you will be asked to describe the things that you do in your daily living. The Activities of Daily Living Report (ADL) provides the claimant with a great opportunity to make their case to the Social Security Administration. Unfortunately many claimants blow this opportunity by providing inaccurate information that is often turned against them by Social Security Examiners. Here is a typical example on how a claimant unintentionally hurt her case by what she wrote in her ADL. Once we saw an ADL where the claimant stated that she “babysat her nephew everyday”. This statement was used against the claimant during the initial disability review process because Social Security assumed that the activity of babysitting children was indicative of the claimant's ability to work.
- Do not attend a Hearing without an attorney- So many reasons why not to represent yourself. A fool is someone who is their own attorney or I am a fool if I start doing electrical work around my house. Hire an attorney early on in the process for best results.
- Don't Settle Your Worker's Compensation Case Until You Talk to Your Social Security Disability Attorney: A workers compensation settlement can reduce the amount of Social Security Disability benefits that a claimant receives. To prevent this offset of Social Security disability benefits, a workers' comp settlement agreement should always contain language that spreads out payments over time and if it does not all of what you have to pay back will be on the front end. Absent this “spread language” in the workers' comp agreement, the lump sum payment will reduce the Social Security disability benefits to which the claimant is otherwise entitled.
- Maintain a good relationship with your Doctor: Having a doctor on a claimant's side makes a world of difference in a Social Security Disability case. Unfortunately, many of the persons who are considering filing for disability seem to be unaware of this important fact. The opinion of the doctor or doctors who treat a claimant can make or break a disability claim.
- Know your date of last insured, DLI: SSDI works as an insurance program which is paid out of your payroll taxes. If you stop working, at some point in the future, your insurance coverage ends. The point in time when you are no longer insured is called your “date of last insured” or DLI. If your date of last insured (DLI) has passed, there is a possibility that you could still win benefits if you prove that you became disabled before your DLI. In order to properly develop a Social Security claim, a good Social Security Disability lawyer must find out the claimant's date of last insured. This date can be obtained directly by the claimant by calling the Social Security Field Office.
- Assume that everything that you tell your Doctor will be in your file: Many of our clients are unaware of the fact that doctors often transcribe in the medical record the content of their conversations with their patients. In fact, doctors are known to record specific statements made by their clients that pertain to their disability claim. Unfortunately, we have found several instances where our clients' statements have ruined their chances of getting their claim approved. Disability claimants should be very careful with what they tell their doctors when they ask for a medical opinion. Don't joke around with the doctor on how desperately you need the money from Social Security or how you have to look really bad in order to win disability. Keep in mind that your comments could be misconstrued very easily and remember, it is never a good idea to suggest to a doctor to exaggerate the severity of a condition or an illness, or to ask the doctor to be dishonest in any way.
- Take All the Medications Prescribed by Your Doctor: If Social Security finds out from your medical record that you are not taking your medications, you will be asked if you have any good reasons for failing to comply with medical treatment. If you are unable to provide good reasons to the agency, there is a good possibility that your claim will be denied. Social Security will determine the validity of your reason, not you.