Published on: October 21, 2014
Let’s face it: working with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and filing for disability benefits can be tricky business. So many seemingly small factors can wind up playing deciding roles in your application, that it can be a confusing and rustrating process to get the benefits you need.
While you may think the decision and filing process would be clear-cut (“Yes, of course I have a disability, why is getting benefits a problem?”), there are actually numerous pitfalls to avoid when applying.
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.
“The 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.
“A Disability is a Disability”
Another piece of poor advice we’ve heard regarding disability benefits is that, unfortunately, all benefits are not treated the same. You can’t go to the SSA with just any disabling condition and expect benefits; rather, your condition must specifically meet requirements dictated by the administration’s Blue Book, which catalogues all disabilities eligible for financial benefits.
Even if you’ve suffered an injury at work or have a long-lasting psychological condition that hinders your ability to work, your application will fail if your condition does not meet Blue Book requirements. Typically, disabilities are only eligible for benefits if they have lasted or are expected to last at least one year, and significantly affect your ability to work.
“Prior Work Doesn’t Affect Your Benefits”
Poorly presenting your work history or 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 perform a duration of work test and recent work test, which effectively measure your contributions to Social Security, and are used to prove and and provide a detailed record of your contributions.
When it comes to successful disability applications, evidence is everything. Meeting the strict disability requirements of the SSA is made surprisingly simple with a little preparatory legwork, and the compiling of all medical documentation related to your disability.
“You Don’t Need Help”
The final piece of advice we advise against is that pursuing benefits alone is always a safe bet. In fact, the truth is quite the opposite; very often, disability benefit applications fail when applicants submit their documentation to the SSA without review by an outside, experienced professional.
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 ciricumstances can often cost an applicant his/her benefits.
With so much on the line, from your family’s well-being to your future ability to work, 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 and compile documentation for your application.