Thursday, July 30, 2015

Social Security Disability - 11 Tips for a Successful Claim

More than 3 million Americans receive Social Security disability benefits every year, but, for most of them, it was a long struggle to get those benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, 12 million people apply for Social Security disability benefits every year. However, it is estimated that 70% of those claims are denied during the very first application process.

The Social Security disability process can be a long and tedious one. On average, an initial claim takes 4-6 months to process. And, if you're rejected and have to go through the entire appeals process, your case could drag on for as long as a year and half.

So, how can you increase your chances of having a successful Social Security disability claim on the first try? Start by following these 11 tips:

1. Learn everything that you can about the Social Security disability application process before you turn in your application. Find out exactly what you can expect.

2. File your Social Security disability claim right away. Since even successful claims can take months to process, you will want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. That way, you stand a better chance of getting your much-needed Social Security disability benefits sooner.

3. File your Social Security disability paperwork very carefully. A huge number of disability claims are denied right off the bat because the forms were not filled out properly. Answer every question on the forms; leaving something blank can get your claim denied. If you need assistance, don't be afraid to ask someone to help you.

4. Your disability claim will be totally judged on your medical records, so be sure to get ongoing medical treatment. If you do not keep seeing your doctor, your examiner may argue that there are not enough medical records to support your claim. Or, you may have trouble getting your doctor to verify the severity of your condition if he has not seen you in a while.

5. Send copies of all of your medical records in with your Social Security disability application. You want to make sure that the examiner in charge of your case has all of the information. If you do not include your medical records, the examiner will have to call your doctor and get the records himself. That's something that could delay your case for months. Or, worse, if the doctor's office overlooks something, your examiner may not get all of the important information he needs to make a fair decision.

6. Bring up everything that is wrong with you, including mental conditions. Your examiner needs all of the information. For example, if you have memory problems on top of your physical impairment, it may make it even tougher for you to perform basic work.

7. Ask your doctor to write a letter on your behalf. Most doctors will not say that a patient is 100% disabled, but they can talk about why you cannot work. For example, they may say that you are unable to sit, stand, bend, or walk.

8. Keep tabs on your examiner. Call Disability Determination Services - not the Social Security Administration - for updates on your case. DDS is the organization that will handle your initial claim and do your medical evaluation. They are best equipped to handle your questions.

9. Do not assume that DDS knows everything. If a new medical condition arises during the course of your claim, tell your examiner. Or, if you have to go in for a disability interview, do not leave anything out.

10. Respond to any letters promptly. Not doing so can get your claim denied. DDS may send you a letter saying that you have to come in for a medical exam with an independent, third-party doctor. Not going to the appointment puts your claim at risk.

11. Hiring a Social Security disability attorney greatly improves your chances of getting your disability claim approved on the first try. A good lawyer will file all of the paperwork, make sure that you do not miss any deadlines, and pass on any updates to your examiner.

Steve Baik is a contributing editor for, a site that provides information and resources for Social Security Disability Law and Benefits.
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