The first step in applying for social security disability (SSDI) or supplemental security income (SSI) once you become disabled is to submit a disability claim form. The disability claim form is a detailed document that requests information pertaining to your work history and annual earnings information (for SSDI benefits and SSI benefits), income and resources (for SSI benefits), and medical condition.
But receiving benefits is not as simple as just submitting a form. In fact, the chances of your claim being approved following submission of the disability claim form are low. For 2014, only 32 percent of all SSDI applications were initially approved. The reasons for denial are varied, ranging from simple clerical mistakes to failure to meet the social security administration’s (SSA) strict definition of disability.
Here are some things you should know before filing a social security disability claim form.
Your medical condition must meet the SSA’s definition of disability
The SSA has strict guidelines regarding what constitutes a disability for purposes of receiving SSDI and SSI. In order to be eligible for benefits, the disability must have left you unable to perform the work you did prior to the disability, you are unable to adjust to a new line of work, and the disability must be expected to result in your death or to last for more than one year.
The disability must be total
Unlike some employer or state disability programs, SSDI and SSI benefits are not paid for partial or short-term disabilities. The disability must leave you unable to engage in substantial gainful activity for more than a year, or be expected to result in your death. Anything less than that will make you ineligible.
You must provide detailed documentation of your disability
A signed note from your physician stating that you have a disability is not enough to meet the SSA’s disability criteria. It must be proven that the disability prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity for a year or more. The SSA maintains a list of disabling conditions it considers so severe that you are automatically considered disabled. If you do not have one of the disabling conditions, the SSA must determine whether your medical condition is of equal severity.
Regardless of the disability, it must be documented by:
- Cat scans
- Treatment notes
- Radiologist reports, or;
- Other lab reports or physician notes speaking specifically to the disability
You can file the disability claim form as soon as you become disabled
Many people mistakenly believe that they cannot file a disability claim form until they have been disabled for a year or more. This is inaccurate – the SSA’s definition of disability requires proof that the disability has lasted, or is expected to last, at least 12 months. If your medical documentation proves that your disability will make you unable to work for 12 months, you can begin receiving benefits even though it has only been eight months since you became disabled.
Delaying filing of a claim can result in the loss of months of benefit payments. The average decision time for a disability claim form is anywhere from three to five months, though it could be longer depending on the workload of the SSA employee reviewing the case and on the difficulty in obtaining medical documentation. If the initial claim is denied, appeals can prolong the process.
Hiring a social security disability insurance attorney improves your chances of approval
A social security disability attorney can help you avoid many of these mistakes and increase your chances of approval. An experienced attorney understands the very specific criteria the SSA uses to determine whether an applicant is disabled, and can provide your physician with the medical terminology and specific diagnoses the SSA looks for when reviewing your claim.
A social security disability attorney can also review your claim form to determine if you have overlooked any pertinent information, or failed to provide the appropriate medical documentation, which could result in your claim being denied. Approval of your disability claim form at the initial submission saves you time going through the appeals process and ensures you receive the full benefits you are entitled to.
The Law Office of Attorney Neil H. Good can help you file your Social Security Disability Claim Forms. Learn more by calling #(847) 577-4476 or complete the form online for a free case evaluation.