How do you get disability?
How to get disability? It’s not a question anyone will ever think of unless they have a serious physical or mental condition that limits their ability to work. Unfortunately, that’s when they find out how long and frustrating the disability claim process can be.
On this page, I present four good tips to improve your chances of getting disability. They are useful because they actually address the two areas of evidence Social Security will look at: your medical history and your work history.
First of all, to get disability, you need to file an application, preferably with a local Social Security office. The very best way to go about this is to ignore the SSA 1-800 number which often gives out wrong information and also stay away from the SSA online filing option. Instead, call your local Social Security office, tell them you wish to apply, and have them set up an appointment for a telephone application interview. From there, Social Security will do the rest.
If you get denied, you need to not give up, and not file a new claim. Many people mistakenly start a new application instead of appealing. But doing that gives up your appeal rights and the chance to be heard at a hearing where the approval chances may be higher. If you get denied, start the appeal process as quickly as you can.
Filing appeals to help you get disability
In most states, you have the options of a reconsideration appeal and a disability hearing appeal. The reconsideration comes after your disability application is denied. If the request for reconsideration is also denied (80 percent of them are), you can ask for a hearing.
The disability hearing appeal is where you will have your best chance to get your disability. Usually, more than half of all hearings result in an approval.
Why does the disability hearing have better odds?
The hearing is where you will meet the person deciding your case (an administrative law judge) and this is where you can present statements from your doctors. The hearing is also where a lawyer can prepare your case, submit additional evidence, and argue that your case meets the Social Security definition of disability.
Winning your case sooner saves hardship
Even though you may eventually go to a disability hearing, make every attempt to win the case as soon as possible to avoid financial hardship that can cause you to file bankruptcy or lose your home. Speaking as a former disability examiner, here are four tips to make a stronger case so you can get your disability.
Tip 1 to get your disability
When you apply, give Social Security all of your medical treatment sources, including all doctors, clinics, and hospitals. Make sure you include the names of your doctors and the addresses of your medical providers.
Note: the number one factor in slowing down a disability case…is how long it takes a disability examiner to get your medical records. So don’t make it any harder for them. Instead, make it as easy as possible.
Tip 2 to get your disability
If you can, get copies of your medical records and submit them when you apply. Doing this can shave weeks or months from your case processing time. If you do this, though, make sure you get all the records, meaning your current medical records and also your older records that prove how far back your disability began (which is important for calculating how much back pay you are owed)
Tip 3 to get your disability
Make sure you have recent medical evidence. This means, at the very least, you should go to the doctor sometime before you file for disability. Why? Social Security cannot approve your disability claim if they don’t have recent medical records when they review your case. The reasoning is pretty clear. How can Social Security know that you currently qualify for disability if they don’t have recent medical evidence.
What is considered “recent” medical evidence?
Recent medical evidence is from any visit to a doctor within the last 90 days. You cannot get disability approved without recent evidence. But what if you don’t have recent evidence? Social Security will then send you to a consultative medical exam. This will provide a recent snapshot of your condition. However, the doctor you see will not know you, or much about your condition, so it will be a poor substitute. To get your disability approved, make sure you are seen by your doctor or doctors regularly.
Tip 4 to get your disability
Give Social Security detailed information about your work history when you file a claim for disability. This is an area that many claimants gloss over when they submit their disability application.
But this is not something that should be given short attention. Instead, a person filing for disability should correctly identify their dates of employment, the amount of time they worked each job, their job title, and, just as importantly, provide a detailed explanation of the duties performed on each job.
Why is it so important to give detailed work history information?
To understand this, you need to know a little about how disability decisions are made. When you file for disability, the disability examiner working on your case will try to identify your jobs in a reference source known as the DOT, or dictionary of occupational titles. This is so they can figure out what demands your past work placed on you. Did you have to stand or sit a lot? Did you have to lift or carry? Did you have to memorize or learn new information?
Once the examiner knows what you did in your old jobs, they will compare that to what you can currently do (your residual functional capacity). Then they can decide if you can return to your past work, or do some kind of other work. If you can’t do either, you may get disability benefits.
Obviously, correctly identifying a person’s past jobs can affect the outcome of a case and determine whether or not they are approved…or get denied on the basis of A) being able to return to their past work or B) being able to perform some type of other work.