Published on: November 6, 2020
Handling your disability application and potential for benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be tricky business. There are so many seemingly small factors that can wind up playing deciding roles in your application, that many Americans fall for simple Social Security mistakes and avoidable pitfalls, largely due to lack of understanding and preparation. When it comes to applying for disability benefits and avoiding Social Security errors, preparation is everything.
In a majority of cases, the best way to get your needed disability benefits is to be proactive by preparing your evidence and medical documentation carefully, and in many cases, hiring an outside disability professional to oversee and guide you through the application process.
Knowing what information to prepare, such as medical and work history documentation, and handling your application correctly will assist in giving you the greatest chance for success on your application. Read up on the most frequent Social Security mistakes to avoid so you have the best chances of receiving disability benefits.
Not Preparing For Tests
When it comes to the Social Security application process, preparation is key; you’ll have to be sure you meet certain prerequisite conditions before successfully applying for disability becomes a realistic possibility.
For starters, you will have to have conditions classified as disabling in the SSA’s Blue Book; the reference catalogue used by the SSA to determine whether or not a disability is eligible and work limiting. Further, your disability will have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year.
As the SSA does not grant disability benefits for non-permanent conditions (such as broken bones, or other temporarily disabling circumstances), being sure your condition is covered before filing is a crucial first step in receiving benefits.
Not Gathering Significant Evidence
The ultimate decision regarding your disability and benefits is based on the hard evidence: the proof you provide that your disability is a long-term hindrance on your ability to earn. Disability benefits through the SSA aren’t rewards; they’re supplementary, replacement income for wages lost due to a physically and/or mentally disabling conditions.
When applying for disability benefits, avoid simple mistakes by creating a thorough record of your condition, including everything from occupational forms to medical treatment costs. To receive benefits through the SSA, your condition must be diagnosed by a licensed doctor or practitioner in that field, and must be expected to last at least one year or have already lasted one year. Those with temporary conditions or minor illnesses need not apply; you may only receive benefits through the government if your afflictions are long-term, and measurably affect your capacity to earn a living.
In preparation for your disability application, be sure to include supplementary evidence of your working history and review your Social Security Earnings Record. The Social Security disability program operates through a credit system, with applicable credits taken out of standard paychecks in the form of taxes. Over time, these contributions, along with your age, unique condition and circumstances, will entirely shape how government benefits will work for you.
Assuming the Social Security Application Process is the Same Everywhere
Among proper preparation tasks needed in your disability application is understanding how the application process may differ in your state from others in the U.S. Disability is not treated or handled the same way nationwide. Although the laws are the same nation-wide, decisions at the first two levels are made by agencies of the state that work under contract with the federal government.
Poorly Representing Your Work History
The SSA also determines your benefit amount based on Social Security credits (your lifetime contributions to Social Security through taxes) and your work history prior to disability.
Poorly presenting your work history or providing insufficient data on your contributions to Social Security can also wind up costing you your disability benefits after application. In fact, the benefits you’ll be applying for are almost entirely determined by your working history throughout your life, and in the decade prior to the onset of your disability.
Over the period of your working life, credits are built up and contributed to Social Security in the form of taxes. A crucial mistake countless applicants make every year when filing for disability benefits is insufficiently documenting these working contributions and credits. Upon review, the SSA will typically use two tests to assess your contributions: the recent work test and duration of work test.
In a recent work test, the SSA will analyze your monthly contributions to Social Security over a determined period of years immediately prior to your disability. This time window is largely based on your age at the onset of disability. Should your contributions meet criteria in this frame, the SSA will determine you eligible under the recent work test.
The duration of work test, which is similar to the recent work test in what it analyzes, instead measures your contributions to Social Security throughout your working lifetime. To prove your abilities to work have changed over the course of your disability and your working contributions to Social Security make you eligible for benefits, it may be extremely helpful in your situation to have a disability expert consultant at your side.
Avoiding Professional Help
Perhaps the single biggest mistake applicants can make with their disability application is not seeking professional support. Very often, disability benefit applications fail when applicants submit their documentation to the SSA without review by an outside, experienced professional Countless factors play into your potential for receiving disability, and lacking one piece of crucial documentation somewhere in your application can cost you everything.
Hiring an experienced Social Security expert to guide you through the application process and make sure you have met all requirements regarding medical, work and disability documentation is probably the most beneficial step you can take in applying for benefits.
Much more goes into the Social Security’s disability program than many applicants realize, and because of this, unforeseen circumstances and simple Social Security errors can often cost an applicant their benefits. With so much on the line, you’ll need to create the best possibility of winning your case. One of the easiest ways to do this is by hiring a professional disability expert to help manage communication with the SSA, compile documentation for your applicatio, and avoid Social Security mistakes.