Social Security Case and steps to winRecently on our disability forum a user asked, I filed for SSDI benefits last week. I have heard horror stories about how difficult it is to win your case and how many months it can take to get a disability decision. I know I cannot perform a miracle, but I did want to know if there is anything I can do to help expedite my Social Security case?
This is a great question and I love that you want to get involved in the process. Too many disability applicants simply file their Social Security case and sit back and wait for the disability decision. Unfortunately, because most claimants do not really understand the process nor what it takes to prove they are disabled, most claimants are denied disability benefits the first time they apply.
Lets take a look at some steps you can take before and after you file your Social Security case to improve your chances that you will be approved for benefits.
- Make sure your application is accurate and complete.
The first step you can take to ensure your Social Security case will have the best chance for approval is to make sure you complete the application (Form SSA-16-BK) and include all necessary information.
Pay specific attention to the onset date of disability, which can affect the amount of retroactive benefits you are eligible to receive). If you are not sure about your onset date of disability you will need to review your medical records to determine when your disability became so severe you were no longer able to work or perform substantial gainful activity.
- Make sure the SSA has all of your medical records.
Next, make sure the SSA has access to all of your medical records. While this does not mean that you have to request and send all of your medical records to the SSA, it does mean that you need to provide accurate information about your doctors names, addresses, and dates of treatment so the SSA can review your records and determine whether you are disabled.
- Continue to see the doctor.
Regardless of your health condition, you will need to continue to seek medical treatment while your Social Security case is under review. This is a sign to the SSA that you are doing all you can to get the proper treatment to potentially help you return to work.
- File all appeals before the appeal deadline.
Close to 70% of disability applicants are denied benefits the first time they apply. Certain claimants who have been denied benefits, however, may have the right to file an appeal and have a second examiner review their Social Security case. If you are denied and the SSA tells you that you can appeal your claim, make sure you file your appeal within 60 days from the date of the denial letter.
- Dont take out your frustration out on the SSA employees.
Yes, the SSA is run by the federal government. Yes, the process is broken. What doesnt help expedite your claim, however, is to take your frustration out on Suzie the disability examiner. Most likely she is doing everything in her power to help process your Social Security case as fast as possible.
The SSA processes millions of Social Security cases each year. Be patient and follow the steps outlined above.