Monday, October 27, 2008

What is the most effective way to apply for Social Security Disability and get approved?

To a great extent, much of what happens in the social security disability and SSI disability evaluation process is beyond a claimant's control. Typically, a person decides to file for disability, visits a local social security field office, has a disability application interview, submits the necessary social security disability forms (including the disability report form, a work activity questionaire, the actual application, and release forms to allow the obtaining of medical records), and then...waits for a decision.

So, what makes applying for disability less effective, or more effective? In actuality, effectiveness actually begins with making the decision to file a claim in the first place. As a disability examiner, and also working in the area of claimant representation, I became privvy to the fact that a large percentage of disability claimants only file for disability after having waited months before making up their minds to do so.

In some cases, filing for disability seemed to be a drastic step that they didn't want to take, due to fear of being rejected and also what filing seemed to imply--a relatively permanent change in one's economic circumstances. In other cases, delaying on filing a disability claim may have been due to a desire to work as long as possible before it became impossible to earn a livable income.

Whatever the reason, though, putting off the decision to file will sometimes only result in delaying an inevitable progression of events. And doing so can mean wasting valuable time on the processing of a disability claim. This is particularly true since disability claim backlogs are only growing longer and longer every year.

Getting a claim filed as fast as possible is a positive step. However, making the claim more effective can be accomplished in a number of ways, including the following:

1. Making sure that all requested paperwork is turned in promptly. Many claimants may not realize it, but delayed documentation can sometimes cause a case to essentially grind to a halt.

2. Returning all claim related phone calls immediately. Here's an example: if a disability examiner is attempting to close a case and make a decision and needs to call the claimant to discuss their ADLs, or activities of daily living, but cannot get a return call or make contact with the claimant, then the case will simply sit.

3. Presenting a list of all medical treatment sources, including names of individual doctors, names of hospitals, clinics, and doctor's offices, dates of treatment, tests performed, and facility addresses and phone numbers.

Number three is particularly important since the biggest delay on the social security disability process is usually the wait for medical records. Making the disability examiner's job easier can literally move a case faster and reduce unnecessary case processing time.

However, there are other ways to address the title of this post. What is the most effective way to apply for social security disability and get approved?

1. Apply in person at a local social security office versus filing a claim online. This way you can get immediate answers to any questions you might have about the disability process.

2. Avoid calling the SSA toll free line. It is legendary for the amount of incorrect information that is distributed by it.

3. Write down a detailed list of your work history and medical treatment history and take it with you when you apply. This will make the application process easier and surer.

4. If you can, get your doctor to write a detailed statement supporting your claim for disability. The statement should focus on your functional limitations (how long you can sit, stand, walk, how much you can lift, how well you can stoop, crouch, reach, grasp, hear, see, etc, etc) in order to document your inability to work and to justify your basis for claiming disability benefits.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

How do you apply for Social Security Disability or SSI - How to file
Medical Conditions and Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability Denied - Why did this Happen?
Social Security Disability and Medical Evidence
Social Security Disability Psychological Exam and Questions that get Asked
Correct Steps for Filing a Social Security Disability Claim


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