If you are trying to win disability benefits in Florida

If you are trying to win disability benefits, this post may be of interest to you. A while back, I received an email question from someone who had filed a Social Security Disability claim more than a year ago. After filing her claim with the local social security office, she waited patiently for a decision notice---mainly because the claims rep who had taken her disability application had told her not to expect a decision any earlier than 120 days.

Five months had pased and she hadn't heard anything. So, quite naturally, she began to wonder about the status of the claim. After getting the number for disability determination services in her state (the agency that handles decisions for SSD and SSI claims for the social security administration), she decided to find out which disability examiner had been assigned her case so she could find out how much longer it would take to get an answer. When she called DDS, she got a pretty big shock. They told her "nothing was pending".

This meant that disability determination services did not have her claim. If they didn't have her claim, she wondered, who did? A call to the social security office where she applied gave her another shock. Her disability application had never been sent to DDS. In other words, it had simply sat on someone's desk (or in a filing cabinet or drawer) for five months.

Unfortunately, her situation is not at all uncommon. But, fortunately for her, she was persistent enough (and outraged enough) to make sure that her file was immediately transferred to DDS so work could finally begin on her claim.

I thought I should mention what happened to this individual for this reason: never assume that the social security office will actually do what it says it will do. Because, too often, that's not the case. This doesn't mean, of course, that the entire system is inept. But mistakes do happen and you don't want this kind of mistake to happen on your disability case.

Now, here is the question she asked: if you are trying to win disability benefits, how often should you check on your claim to make sure they haven't forgotten about you, or may possibly have sent a notice that you haven't received?

Answer: You can call for status checks as often as you feel comfortable doing. Calling every week (some people actually do this) would probably not be a productive use of time. However calling later than every three or four months might be a little risky. There have been many situations where a claimant was supposedly sent a denial letter (which they never got) and by the time they finally called to check on their claim, the time allowed for making an appeal had already passed (meaning they had to start all over again).

For safety's sake, a person who is trying to win a disability award may wish to periodically check the status of their disability claim every 4-6 weeks, or simply have their lawyer do this for them if they are represented.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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