Sunday, September 28, 2008

SSD Application Filing Tips

If you are filing for social security disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI), here’s a tip for making the process move along more quickly: Be sure to include on your disability application the dates of treatment, from both your treating physician and any other medical facilities at which you have received care for your condition.

It takes, on average, at least four months from the date of initial filing to receive a decision on your claim. However, this timeframe is just an estimate, and can stretch out for months or even a year if the disability examiner assigned to your case is unable to get all of your medical records in a timely manner. Although you file your disability claim with the social security office, the decision to approve or deny benefits is actually made by an examiner in your state disability determination services agency, and that examiner will need both the names (and correct contact information) of all your medical treatment sources, and the dates of treatment, in order to render a decision.

It is important to include the dates of treatment up front so that the disability examiner can determine two very important things: 1) the date of onset of your medical condition, or when your symptoms first began, and 2) the last date on which you were seen by a physician for your condition.

The date of onset is important because it allows the examiner to determine when your condition became disabling. In SSD, the date of onset will have a bearing on backpay and on the commencement of medicare coverage.

The date on which you last received medical treatment is important because it tells the examiner if you have recent medical evidence to prove that you are currently disabled. A disability examiner cannot decide a claim without recent medical evidence, and if you have not seen a doctor for your condition within the last 60-90 days, you may be required to attend a social security medical exam known as a consultative exam (CE).

Consultative exams are usually mere formalities really, and generally only take about 15 minutes. However, the need for a consultative exam can mean a significant delay in receiving a decision in your case. Although doctors are required to send the results of a CE to the examiner within 10 days, it takes time for the exam to be scheduled, attended, and then added to the medical records in your file.

In addition, a disability examiner will generally wait until all of the medical records come in before deciding if you need a CE, and this can take months (doctors are not always prompt at responding to requests for medical records, especially in disability matters). It’s best to let the examiner know up front if you haven’t been to a doctor recently, so that a CE can be set up for you as soon as possible.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog


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