10 Common Mistakes Made by Social Security Disability Applicants

July 18,2016
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Approximately 30 percent of disability applications are denied immediately for technical reasons. Fewer than half of the applications submitted are approved. Many denied applications can be transformed into approvals with guidance from a Danbury disability attorney.

Your application for disability benefits may be denied if you make any of these common mistakes:

  1. You try to handle your claim by yourself. The process of applying for and defending your Social Security application can be complicated. It involves a complex interaction of regulations and laws. A knowledgeable disability lawyer can help you navigate the process of obtaining disability benefits.
  1. You do not seek any medical treatment. Your description of symptoms is not enough to prove that you have a medical impairment that is severe. You must have verifiable medical evidence from licensed medical providers who have completed acceptable medical tests on you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider all medical evidence, no matter how old it is. You need to prove when your condition started as well as how severe it is. This can only be done with significant medical evidence that shows the progression of your impairment as well as how it has responded to medical treatment.
  1. You do not seek the right kind of medical treatment. You must seek treatment from a licensed medical provider as well as show objective evidence of a severe impairment. A licensed medical provider includes a medical doctor, psychiatrist, specialist, or any other doctor with a medical license. People without actual medical licenses, such as acupuncturists and chiropractors, do not carry weight with the SSA. You must also submit objective medical evidence, such as tests and laboratory blood work. MRIs, x-rays, and mental exams are all objective tests. Thus, you must seek medical treatment that is verifiable and objective in nature.
  1. You do not comply with medical treatment. Your doctor will assess your conditions, then prescribe medications and/or conduct procedures in an attempt to make you better. If you do not take those medications as prescribed, or you refuse treatment, you are not showing that your condition is lasting. In fact, your condition may get better if you comply with the doctor’s instructions. It is essential that your medical evidence shows that you have attempted to recover, but that your condition has endured.
  1. You are able to work. You must be unable to perform substantial gainful activity in order to be eligible for disability benefits. This does not mean you cannot work at all, but if you earn more than a specified amount each month, you may be disqualified from obtaining benefits. Similarly, if you volunteer or have hobbies that evidence your ability to work, you may be disqualified. If you are able to do any work whatsoever, you should consult with a knowledgeable Danbury disability attorney to find out if you may still qualify for disability benefits.  Sometimes an applicant genuinely cannot work, but simply fails to provide a complete picture of how his or her impairment affects the ability to work. A disability attorney can offer tips for completing your application and testifying at your hearing so that the true extent of your disability is revealed.  Letters and testimony from witnesses and a written opinion from your doctor may also assist.
  1. Your condition is not expected to last for at least one year. In addition to having an impairment that prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity, your condition must last or be expected to last for at least one year, or to result in death. If you have a short-term condition that is expected to resolve in less than 12 months, you may not qualify for disability benefits. Only verifiable medical evidence can prove that your condition is expected to endure at least one year. Doctor’s notes will show the onset date of your disability, and standard medical knowledge can prove that your condition will require treatment and prevent you from working for one year. Talk to your doctor about the extent of time your condition is expected to last.
  1. You are collecting unemployment. One of the requirements for unemployment is that you claim you are able to work, but have been terminated from gainful employment and cannot find further work. Thus, you are categorically denying that you are disabled when you apply for unemployment. It is very difficult to live without any income; however if you are able to obtain any income by claiming you can work, you may be disqualified from disability benefits.
  1. You miss important deadlines. It is important that you apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. Although SSDI benefits may be applied back to your onset date, SSI benefits are only available from the date you applied. After that, each step of the application process has significant deadlines. If your application is denied initially, you have a certain amount of time to appeal. A Danbury disability attorney can help you meet those deadlines with the appropriate evidence.
  1. You don’t appeal if your application is initially denied. Many disabled applicants simply give up too soon. Failing to appeal is one of the biggest mistakes an applicant can make. When you appeal, you can submit additional evidence to strengthen your claim.  You are also entitled to a hearing before an administrative law judge where you can tell you story and explain exactly how your impairment affects you and why you cannot work.  A hearing gives you the best chance of success.
  1. You don’t hire a lawyer because you think you can’t afford to. Being unable to earn an income can be daunting. You likely have mounting medical costs, past due bills, and the last thing you want is legal fees. A disability attorney understands that you are unable to work. He or she will help you find resources in your community, and will not charge a fee for legal services unless and until you recover money from the SSA. Do not delay in seeking legal assistance because you think you cannot afford it. Call us today to find out how we can help you immediately.

Our Danbury disability attorneys are familiar with the common mistakes that people make when applying for disability benefits. They also know how to avoid them. If you need to apply or have already applied for disability, call the Hermann Law Group at 877-773-3030. Let us deal with the legal issues while you focus on maintaining your health.