If you are unable to work you may have heard of Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. SSD benefits are available to individuals who have worked 5 out of the last 10 years and have paid Social Security taxes. The individual must be found totally disabled and the disability must last or be expected to last for at least 12 months.
Most people think they are clearly disabled, meaning unable to work. So they apply for disability benefits without seeking legal counsel. This is a big mistake. Your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits is determined by a federal agency. Trying to obtain benefits through a federal agency is not an easy task. Especially when you are not well versed in the regulations and how to properly prepare your case. It is no wonder over 70% of initial applications are denied. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is not there to help you organize and prepare your case. They are there to evaluate your situation and make a decision based on the facts and evidence you present.
Below is a list of the top three common mistakes unrepresented clients make when applying for disability benefits.
Failing to provide an accurate list of all medical providers.
Your application for disability benefits rests solely upon the medical evidence you are able to provide. If you do not provide SSA with an accurate list of all of your medical treatments for the appropriate time frame they will not have your complete medical file to make a decision. Thus, leaving them to make a decision based on an incomplete record.
Failing to obtain a treating source statement.
Most people don’t know that a statement from your doctor can be extremely helpful in obtaining disability benefits. This is because your doctor is in the best position to form an opinion about your ability to work.
Failing to seek counsel to represent them at the hearing.
If you have to go to a hearing, which most people do, you will be required to provide the judge with testimony regarding your situation. The judge will also likely request that a medical expert and/or a vocational expert attend the hearing. You need to be prepared to cross-examine both experts. Without having an in-depth knowledge of the Social Security program you are placed at a huge disadvantage in presenting your case to the judge.
If you think you may qualify for disability benefits you should seek experienced legal counsel for advice. It doesn’t cost you anything out of pocket. The Social Security Administration regulates all fees an attorney is allowed to collect for disability claims. These fees are contingency-based, meaning your attorney will only get paid if they can secure your disability benefits. Talk to an attorney about your disability claim. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain.