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SSDI or SSI benefits- First step to win benefits

On our disability forum one of the most common questions about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is, “What is the first step to getting benefits?” This is a tough question because there are so many things that must be done right to ensure you are approved for disability benefits.

Keep in mind, unlike requesting Social Security retirement benefits, disability benefits are not guaranteed. You do not simply fill out a few forms and a couple of weeks later the disability check magically appears in your mail box. In fact, this assumption is the most common misconception that SSI and SSDI disability claimants make.

Many disability applicants will never be approved for SSDI or SSI because they either do not meet the nonmedical criteria of SSDI (no work credits, or they are working) or of SSI (their income and resources are too high, or they are working) or they do not meet the medical requirements (their condition is not severe enough or their condition will not last 12 months). Other claimants may be approved but only after a lengthy battle through the disability appeals process.

So what is the one thing you can do to improve your chances of winning Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income?

Get Great Medical Care and see a Doctor

If I had to choose one thing to do that would offer the greatest chance that you would be approved for SSDI or SSI I would suggest getting great medical care from a professional doctor for your condition and make sure that the information provided from your doctor’s is clear, informative and details specifically why you cannot work.

Getting great medical care is my top recommendation because the SSA will make your disability determination almost exclusively based on your current medical records. If you have no records they may send you to a consultative examiner (C.E.) for a cursory review but the C.E. is not providing medical care, and they may not spend enough time with you to fully understand the severity of your condition and how it limits your ability to work.

Can I get SSDI or SSI without great medical care?

This question is always a bit tricky. Yes, anything is possible. There are claimants who have no medical records, who are sent to the consultative examiner and who are approved immediately for SSDI or SSI benefits. These claimants, however, probably have a condition which is readily apparent after a very cursory medical review.

What if you have a severe mental disorder but the day you see the C.E. is a good day for you? If the doctor has not seen you over a specified period of time, witnessed episodes where you may have had a mental decline or if they have not had to adjust medication and improve support systems for you to ensure you can complete basic, daily activities they are unlikely to have the full understanding of the limitations that may be caused by your mental condition.

Given the current medical crisis our country is facing it is not unusual for many very disabled claimants to lack good medical care and have difficulty finding a doctor. This is a tough situation and there is not a good answer. But if you want to improve your chances of getting SSDI or SSI, find a good doctor and get evidence of your condition.
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