One of the things I continuously hear in regards to filing for Social Security disability is that, "you may have to file a couple of times in order to win your case."
This is only partially correct and here's why:
(1) If you file multiple times and stop each time you are denied and then attempt to file again after a few months, you create issues with your onset date. Your onset date is the date in which you state you became disabled. It determines when you are eligible for disability benefits. So many times I see people filing again and again and stating a different onset date. Do this one or more times and the computer will oftentimes remember your information and lock you out requiring you to file a paper application instead.
What's the solution? If you are serious about filing for Social Security disability benefits and you are denied, the next proper step would be to appeal the previous decision within 60 days. If you truly are unable to work, then keep appealing your denial until you are either approved or you reach your final denial with the Appeals Council. This is the proper way in which to handle a denial of disability benefits.
(2) I also see many people attempt to work after their first denial of disability benefits. Often this is because they have no other choice, but it again creates issues with your onset date. If you returned back to work and were earning $1,130.00 or more per month, then you are engaging in "substantial gainful activity" and are disqualified for benefits.
So, here's the typical scenario: John files for Social Security disability on January 1, 2016. He is subsequently denied on April 1, 2016. He has completely depleted his savings and must return back to work. He starts working May 1, 2016, making $2,000.00 per month, however he realizes he is still too sick to return back to work. He again stops working July 30, 2016, and attempts to refile for disability benefits. He again states that he was unable to work on January 1, 2016, but he can no longer use this as his onset date. Now, he will have to use July 30, 2016, as his new onset date. Further, because Social Security requires 5 months before a disability is considered to be long-term, he loses even more months as back pay.
(3) Believe it or not, the length of the process to receive benefits can actually be to a person's benefit. One of the issues that must be resolved when filing for disability benefits is whether or not a person's mental or physical impairment rises to the level of being severe. Many times when people file for Social Security disability, their conditions are not severe enough to qualify them for disability. However, over time, their conditions become more severe and this actually helps them win their benefits. Again, this is why it is so important to properly appeal a denial and continue on with the process rather than applying multiple times.
Lastly, not one of these hints will help you if you do not seek care from a doctor or hospital. Without proper medical evidence to establish a physical or mental condition, the Administration will not award benefits. So, following the above rules when filing for benefits and seeking proper medical care will certainly improve your odds of being approved.