Filing for medical disability can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you plan carefully and go above and beyond the steps needed to successfully apply. While there is never a guarantee you’ll be granted disability on the first try, the below tips will help get you on the right path.
Tip #1 – Be Prepared When Filing
One of the common reasons disability claims are denied is due to an incomplete or inaccurate application. Any documentation or history that lacks clarity will typically lead to confusion with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and could cause needless delays in the process. Being prepared, even overly so, will help you not only with your case but any potential appeal hearings should you be denied.
Tip #2 – Keep a Detailed Medical Record
This method can help strengthen your application significantly by providing details that could have been easily forgotten or overlooked. Describing your day-to-day challenges, including the illness or pain you experience and other ways your condition affects your life, can be extremely helpful in painting a bigger picture of your disability.
Some important details to note could include:
- Daily activities you’re not able to do now due to your condition
- Date and time of any incidents associated with your disability (i.e. seizures)
- How long an incident lasts and any triggering circumstances
- Any medications you’ve been prescribed that help your condition and whether they cause any side effects
- Pain in specific body parts and the nature of the pain
The clearer and more detailed you are, the better. An applicant that provides thorough documentation of their disability has a much higher chance of being approved for Social Security benefits.
Tip #3 – Don’t Panic If Your Disability Claim is Denied
This is a common occurrence that happens even when you are eligible for disability – don’t let this deter you from appealing this denial. Do as much research as you can about the reasons for your denial and address them directly in your appeal.
Working closely with both medical professionals and a Social Security attorney can also significantly improve your chances of being approved for disability benefits the next time around, which brings us to our next tip.
Tip #4 – Hire a Qualified Social Security Attorney
Social Security disability attorneys have the experience and training to help you through the process of getting your claim approved. Not only will they help you comprehend the application system and terminology, but they will also assist you in filing any paperwork or documentation needed and help you strategize the best approach to obtain the assistance you need.
For the best chance of successfully receiving benefits, hire a disability attorney to help you with each step of this complicated process.
Tip #5 – Be Honest During Your Application
While there is never a guarantee that you will receive Social Security disability benefits, make sure you are always honest and consistent with your medical information. Trying to exaggerate your condition or make it seem worse than it is can truly hinder your chances of receiving disability benefits. Be as accurate and truthful as possible, and ultimately you will break through the red tape.
Tip #6 – Document Conversations with SSA
This is a good way to stay organized during the claims process and minimize your chances of being misinformed. Write down the names of people you speak with and their titles, take note of phone numbers or extensions you call, and request any responses in writing, whether by mail or email, for documentation. Another tip is to ask several individuals the same question – if you get various answers that are similar, you can probably consider it safe to act on that information
Tip #7 – Be Proactive With Your Disability Claim
The claims process can be a long, daunting experience, but stay on it – being proactive can help put you in the best position possible for speedier benefits approval. Continue to educate yourself as much as possible about Social Security requirements, maintain regular medical appointments even if your condition is stable, and document ongoing health information. By keeping an organized record and following up with SSA appropriately, it can help set you up for approval.
Tip #8 – Prepare Documented Evidence
SSA will require a complete picture of your medical and employment history. A strategy for organizing this information is to keep a spreadsheet housing each type of information. Some details to consider documenting can include:
- Work History – Document all the jobs you’ve held with specific start and end dates for the past 15 years
- Medical Details – Make a note of all doctors, treatment facilities, patient ID numbers, medications, dosages, or procedures related to your medical condition
- Financial Information – Bank names and account information
- Contact List – Individuals SSA should contact if they are unable to reach you
- Social Security Numbers – Yours and members of your immediate family, in addition to Medicaid if you are enrolled
- Written Statements – Statements from doctors, family members, co-workers, and so forth that specify your disabling condition and how they have seen it affect you
Tip #9 – Attend Your Consultative Exam
Applicants for Social Security disability benefits are often required to attend a consultative examination with a physician contracted through SSA, who will give an unbiased assessment of health conditions. The purpose of this exam is not to provide treatment, but to collect any additional information needed for your application. It’s required for your claim to be processed and, if you don’t attend, your claim will likely be denied. Make this a priority!
Tip #10 – Plan Financially for Medical Disability
For many, remaining financially stable is one of the greatest challenges individuals face during the application process. With careful planning, you can prepare yourself to get through the time it takes to successfully receive disability benefits. Budgeting financially, applying for other supplemental government programs, and downsizing your lifestyle can all be extremely helpful during this period.
Contact the Disability Attorneys at Woodruff & Mathis
If you are maneuvering your way through the Social Security disability application process, try not to worry – while the process can be stressful, there are resources available to help you through it, including hiring a disability lawyer to work with you through the process.
Contact the experts at Woodruff & Mathis today to speak with our team about Maine disability requirements!