Honestly, if there was anything else this important in your life, you would prepare to give yourself the best odds at success. How you approach your Social Security disability claim should not be any different.
To help you best prepare to file your initial disability application, make sure you do the following:
1. Look up online "SSA Adult Disability Checklist." -This list contains all questions you will need to answer when filing for disability benefits. If you can ACCURATELY answer all the questions on the checklist, then you will be successful in filing your disability application. Which brings me to another point....
2. File your disability application online. This is important for a number of reasons: (1) you can track your case better as it goes through the system, (2) SSA wants you to file the application and appeals online, (3) if you are denied and you end up hiring a disability attorney, he or she will file your appeals online as well, and (4) if you start out with a paper application or phone interview, you more than likely will have to stick with this kind of appeal throughout the process. Remember...paper gets lost and you don't always get a phone call when you are scheduled to receive one from SSA.
3. Make sure your dates are accurate. Past work is not so important as medical treatment. If you received treatment in 2016 and you tell SSA it was in 2017, then when your medical records are requested they will be out of the timeline and records will be missing. Dates and just general accuracy is vital to winning a disability claim. The more accurate you are, the better SSA can help you.
4. If you're on your own and you do file for disability, call SSA immediately and request an SSI interview. Remember, there are two kinds of disability and you may not qualify for one of them. By scheduling an SSI interview, this covers both kinds of Social Security disability and it ensures you continue your disability claim. The discussion of work credits is for another blog, but just remember that if you have a spotty work record, an SSI interview is possibly vital to your claim.
5. If you have a primary care physician or other doctors you know personally, be sure and let them know you are filing for Social Security disability benefits. Ask them to really document their medical records, revealing your difficulty walking, sitting, standing, paying attention, being around others, etc. The better your medical records, the better your chances of success.
6. Be prepared to complete other paperwork besides your application for benefits. An example of this would be your Work History Report and Function Report. These will come in the mail after you file, so be sure and look for them and complete them as soon as possible.
7. If you're having financial difficulties or living arrangement problems: (1) find someone who can give you a ride to the doctor or master public transportation, not just so you keep going to the doctor but also because you may be sent to see a doctor paid by SSA to evaluate you. These are very important appointments and you cannot miss one. (2) You have to keep your medical records current if you want a chance at success. So, continue going to the doctor even after filing for benefits. And, (3) if you move due to financial problems, make sure you always update your address so SSA knows where to send you correspondence. If you miss something due to lack of ability to get there or you forgot to give SSA your new address, it is always difficult to get back on track. Remember, many things are required within a certain timeframe.
We hope this helps. If you need assistance with your Social Security disability case, we represent claimants throughout Texas and Oklahoma fighting for their benefits. Please always feel free to contact us at: (888) 780-9125.