Monday, March 23, 2015

Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits

Every year the Social Security Administration (SSA) receives more than 2 million applications for Social Security Disability benefits. Of these applications, only 30 percent are approved at the initial stage of the application process. Oftentimes, initial applications are denied due to a lack of information, misunderstanding of the disability requirements or improper preparation of the evidence provided. If you are filing an application for disability benefits, understanding the requirements and what is expected of you can help increase your chances of a favorable decision. Before filing your application for Social Security benefits, ask yourself the following questions.

Do You Have Enough Work Credits?

There are two types of Social Security benefits available to disabled individuals. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) are for individuals who have enough work credits accumulated to qualify for disability benefits. Workers who pay into the Social Security program usually receive four credits per year. The number of credits needed to qualify for SSDI benefits will vary depending on your age and your work history.

If you do not have enough credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI). Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based disability program. To qualify for SSI payments your household income and assets will need to be below a certain level.

Do You Have Proper Medical Evidence?

Your medical records play the biggest role in whether or not you are qualified to receive Social Security Disability benefits. If you do not have the proper medical records, your application for disability will be denied. Get copies of your medical records before filing your disability claim and make sure those records include documentation of your disability and how it interferes with your ability to work.

Will Your Doctor Provide a Statement?

If your doctor is willing to provide a written statement attesting to the fact that your disability prevents you from working you will be much more likely to be approved for disability benefits. Discuss your plan to apply for benefits with the doctor or doctors who are treating your condition and ask them if they are willing to provide a written statement regarding your condition and how it affects your ability to perform substantial gainful work activity.

Do You Need to Get Treatment?

Some people assume that they will be more likely to get Social Security Disability benefits if they don't follow recommended treatment for their condition. Although it is true that your condition may be more severe without advised treatments, the SSA is unlikely to approve your claim for disability benefits if you do not follow recommend treatment options. The examiner will want to see how your condition responds to treatment prior to approving your Social Security Disability claim.

Do You Have to Attend the Consultative Exam?

In some cases the SSA examiner will request that you go in for a consultative exam to determine the extent of your disabling condition. Many applicants wonder if they are required to attend this exam in order to receive disability benefits. The answer to this question is yes. If you hope to receive disability payments, you will need to attend the consultative exam if one is requested.

Can I Work While Applying for Disability?

It can take months or even years to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits. Because of this, many individuals wonder if they are allowed to work while going through the Social Security Disability application process. While there is no law stating that you can not work when applying for benefits, your chances of being approved for benefits are significantly reduced if you do so. This is due to the fact that you are applying for benefits due to your inability to work. If you are working when applying for benefits, it will invalidate your reason for needing Social Security Disability payments.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to apply for disability. If your initial application is denied, however, it may be in your best interests to retain the services of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney. Statistics show that individuals who are represented by an attorney during the disability appeal process are more likely to receive a favorable outcome than those who are not.

Filing for disability can be a complex and confusing topic. Understanding the information above can help you in obtaining a favorable decision regarding your disability application. If, for some reason, your application for disability benefits is denied, you should consider hiring a Social Security Disability attorney to file an appeal regarding the decision.

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