Social Security Disability Advocates Applying For Social Security Disability: Important Things You Should Know Disability Claim Advocates: Many people don’t like to think about disability, but the reality is that chances of becoming disabled are higher than you may expect. Research shows that a worker in his early twenties has 1-in-4 chance of becoming maimed before attaining their retirement age. Who Is Eligible For Social Security Disability Welfare? People who are unable to work because of a medical condition or disability receive benefits from social security. The law also allows certain family members of disabled workers to receive money from social security. When Should You Apply? As soon as you are deemed disabled, you should apply for social security benefits. You’ll be expected to fill out a Social Security benefits application form before you can apply for disability benefits. This process can take three to five months. What Information Do You Need to Apply? The following information should be availed: Your original birth certificate; Your Social Security number; An overview of where you worked and the kind of work you did; A duplicate of your most recent W-2 Form (Wage and Tax Statement), or your federal tax returns for the past year if you’re self-employed; Addresses, names/rank and numbers of the doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you, and dates of your visits; Medical records from your hospitals, doctors, therapists, clinics, and caseworkers that you already have in your possession; Dosage and Names of all the medicine you take; and Laboratory and test results. You will also need to fill out other forms aside from the primary application of disability benefits. In one form, you will be required to fill out information concerning your medical condition or disability and how it is affecting your ability to work. The other forms give all the medical practitioners who have treated you permission to provide Social Security people with information about you. Who Decides If I’m Disabled? Your application is reviewed to ensure that you meet some fundamental requirements for disability benefits. To qualify, you must have worked a certain number of years. This is checked, and then finally, current work activities are evaluated. Your application will be processed if you tick all the boxes. It will later be forwarded to the Disability Determination Services office in your state. This state agency makes the initial disability determination decision. Disability specialists and doctors in the state agency ask your doctors for information about your condition. How Is the Decision Made? An evaluation process is used to decide if you’re disabled. It involves 5-steps set in a particular order. Step 1: Determine if you are working. The SSA generally won’t consider you to be disabled if you are working and your wages average more than a certain amount each month. If your monthly earnings average the current amount or less the state agency moves to step two and looks at your medical condition. Step 2: Determine whether your medical condition is severe enough. Your medical condition or impairment must render you unable to perform basic work activities for you to be deemed disabled according to Social Security’s definition. Step 3: Determine whether your Medical Condition Medically equals the criteria of a listing. Medical conditions considered to be acute enough to prevent a person from doing any gainful activity make up this list. If your impairment meets the criteria of a listing, then you have a qualifying disability. If not the state agency moves on to step 4. Step 4: Determine whether you can do the work you did before. At this stage, the DDS decides whether your impairment is stopping you from doing any of your past work activities, and if it does the DDS proceeds to the following step. Step 5: Determine whether you can do any other type of work. If you can do other work, the DDS decides that you don’t have a qualifying disability. If you can’t do any other job, the DDS decides that you are disabled and you are eligible for benefits. For the blind, there are special rules to cater for their needs. Reasons You May Be Denied Benefits: You Earn Too Much Money SSDI is the benefit program for workers who have paid into the Social Security system over many years. Working above the limit considered to be “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) is one of the most primary reasons you may be denied benefits. This means that you are not regarded as disabled because you earn too much income. Any incomes from investments do not count and only work income count toward the SGA. The SGA figure isn’t fixed; it is adjusted yearly. On the other hand, SSI is a disability benefit for low-income people. Your Disability Isn’t Severe Or Won’t Last Long Enough You must be permanently or severely maimed for you to qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits. You must convince the Social Security Administration (SSA) that your impairment is severe enough to result in your death or last at least 12 months. Most requests are rejected simply because the applicant’s disability is not severe enough. The SSA Is Unable To Reach You The Social Security Administration and the agency responsible for determining your medical eligibility for benefits must be able to contact you successfully. Your benefits may be denied if these companies are unable to reach you to communicate with you about serious matters or to schedule an assessment. You Refuse To Collaborate The SSA requires you to avail certain information about yourself or a family member. Failure to release such records to the SSA may result in your claim being denied. Also, you are required to attend a consultative evaluation (CE) during which you are evaluated by a SAS medical practitioner. The expenses of such meetings are usually catered for by the government, and you risk getting your claim denied if you continuously miss these sessions. If you are unable to show up at the scheduled CEs because of location or time constraints, you should talk to your claim examiner so that the Disability Determination Services (DDS) can schedule a CE at a time and place that suits you. You Fail To Follow Doctor’s Prescribed Therapy You can also be denied disability benefits if you fail to follow your doctors prescribed therapy. However, there are some legitimate reasons for failing to adhere to the physician’s instructions are recognized by the SAS, and they fall into two categories; Acceptable medical excuses – This refers to failure to follow prescribed theory for reasons that you can’t control. Acceptable non-medical excuses – You may be unable to follow prescribed therapy for reasons that are not related to your medical condition. In addition, the therapy that you fail to follow must be one that is expected to reinstate your ability to do substantial gainful activity for the SSA to deny your claim. Your Disability Is Founded On Drug Addiction Or Alcoholism In the event drug addiction/alcoholism (DAA) is a leading cause to a person’s disability, then the SSA will deny benefits to such a person. You Have Been Convicted Of A Crime Some conditions concerned with imprisonment or conviction of a crime may play a role in you missing out on Social Security disability insurance benefits. The said conditions include: You got injured while committing a crime and were convicted of the same. You were injured while in prison. You are in prison after being convicted of a felony. You Commit Fraud If you are found to be receiving disability benefits dishonestly, the SSA can prosecute you for fraud and terminate your benefits. Things To Do if Denied Social Security File For Reconsideration At this stage, someone at the SSA reconsiders your case. The said person must not have been a party to the initial decision. The said person or persons then review all the information you had submitted in your application. You are also free to bring in any new evidence. Schedule A Hearing With An ALJ You are entitled to ask for a hearing if your application is rebuffed again. An Administrative Law Judge presides over the case. You or your representative (if you have one) well present evidence old or new and may even bring in witnesses to corroborate your claim much like a normal courtroom trial. Furthermore, there may be witnesses who wish to give evidence against your application, and you have every right in the world to question them in front of the judge. Considering the information presented, the judge will make a decision and communicate about the same through a letter. Submit New Medical Evidence New medical evidence could play a part in swinging the decision on your case to your favor because it gives the evaluator more reasons to award you disability benefits. Get Doctors’ Testimony When assessing a case, The SSA takes doctors’ evaluations very seriously as it is the basis for the final decision. You can have your doctor fill out a residual functional capacity form (RFC) if they haven’t already. You can also submit a revised RFC showing new or deteriorating medical issues. Seek The Services Of A Disability Claim Advocate Getting the services of a professional will help you steer clear of blunders that could put your appeal case in jeopardy. So this is probably an ideal time to get a Social Security disability advocate to help you present your case with all the pertinent information. This is highly recommended because more than 80 percent of disability appeals cases are rejected in the succeeding level of the appeal process.