Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Common Mistakes When Applying for SS

Are you pursuing a Social Security disability claim? The process of applying for disability can be a lengthy process, avoid these costly mistakes so you don't end up dragging your case out further, or even worse, getting denied!

1) Incomplete Records- One of the most important, if not the most important, piece of information you and your representative will provide to the Social Security Administration is your medical records.  It is important that you frequently see your treating physician(s) and obtain documentation related to your visits.  A representative can help you both obtain your medical records and ensure that they are forwarded during any stage of your application.

2) Lack of Specificity-  Many claimants will say something in their application like, “I just sit and watch TV all day.”  While this statement seems reasonable, it will be interpreted by the Social Security Administration to mean that you could sit and answer phones all day instead for gainful employment.  It is important on your application to be as specific as possible related to what you can actually do.  So instead of saying, “I sit and watch TV all day” you should explain how long you can sit in one place without having to lay down, stand up, or readjust.  Be sure not to exaggerate the extent of your disability as this can cause a judge to be suspicious of an otherwise legitimate claim.

3) Loss of Contact With The Social Security Administration- Many applications are denied simply because The Social Security Administration is unable to find the claimant.  It is very important that you notify your representation and the SSA of any change of address or contact information or you may be denied Disability Benefits simply because you missed some form or update.

4) Drug and Alcohol Abuse-  You may be denied Social Security Disability Benefits if drug or alcohol is a contributing factor to your disability.  It is important that you do not abuse substances in order to qualify for benefits.

5)  Not Taking Medication or Following Up Treatments When Filing a Disability Claim- When applying for Social Security Disability it is crucial that you take your medications as prescribed. If you are not taking the medications that are prescribed to you by your doctor then it will be very hard for an examiner to determine whether or not your condition is actually severe enough to warrant Social Security Disability benefits. In some cases, a Social Security Disability applicant will refrain from getting or following medical treatments, thinking that the treatment will interfere with the severity of their condition and may prevent them from obtaining the disability benefits they need. The fact of the matter is that the Social Security examiner reviewing your claim will also review your treatment history

6)  Filing a New Disability Application- It is very important to file an appeal within 60 days of your letter of decision if you are denied your initial request for Social Security Disability benefits. Many people make the mistake of filing a new disability claim rather than appealing the original one. Your chances of successfully obtaining Social Security Disability benefits are much greater if you go through the appeals process rather than just starting over from scratch with a brand new application.

7) Giving Up-  Unfortunately the process of applying and obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits is often times a long one.  Often it will take over 2 years from the time of initial application until benefits are awarded!  Even if your initial application is denied, with the help of your representation you will have many more chances of being awarded benefits (including an official appeals process and eventually the opportunity to state your case in front of an Administrative Law Judge).  It is very important you continue to stay in contact with your representative and the SSA as well as continue to see your doctors, though the process may be long eventually you will be able to win your benefits!

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