Learn how to win a social security disability claim and get the disability benefits you deserve with the helpful tips in the complete guide.
Applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI or SSI) is a long, complicated process. It can take several months to proceed through the application process.
In addition, denied disability claims average about 70% at the initial application stage. Social Security will deny applications with errors, insufficient or inaccurate medical documentation, or missed deadlines.
For the best chance to win Social Security Disability cases, consider the following advice for each stage of the Social Security process. This guide focuses on the initial application stage to the Administrative Law Judge Hearing stage.
1. Have a Qualified Social Security Disability Lawyer on Your Side
The best way to properly handle your claim the first time is to hire an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer. With quality representation, you can significantly increase the chance of being approved for benefits.
A survey by Disability Secrets shows that people who applied for SSDI or SSI were almost twice as likely to get benefits with a disability lawyer. The results show 60% of those who had legal representation received benefits, compared to 34% who did not.
Evans Disability has the experience and knowledge to help you with the Social Security process from to finish. Our team knows how to win a Social Security Disability case and get your deserved benefits. Contact us for a free consultation.
2. Gather the Necessary Documentation to Support Your Claim
To win a Social Security Disability claim, you will need to provide documentation that supports your claim. This documentation can include medical records, letters from your doctor or therapist, and other required documents. It is important to gather this documentation as soon as possible to build a strong case for your claim.
If you hire a Social Security lawyer, you will also need your medical provider’s contact information. Your lawyer needs this information to request your records. However, ask your healthcare providers first to support you applying for disability. Without their support, the SSA will likely deny your benefits.
You should also prepare the last fifteen years of your work experience. Additionally, be ready to explain why you can not work due to your disability. For example, if you have a back injury and unload delivery trucks, you are likely not working. You will need to prove why you cannot perform this work.
In certain situations, the SSA will make medical accommodations for disabilities. Your lawyer or advocate will shape an argument that improves the chance of winning your Social Security Disability claim.
3. Complete the Initial Social Security Disability Application
The next step in filing a Social Security Disability claim is completing the initial application. This application asks for information about your family, health, and work history. You will also need to provide medical records as evidence of your disability.
The disability application is extensive, and you will need to provide a lot of information. But the more information you include, the better your chances of being approved for benefits. Be sure not to leave anything out, or Social Security may deny your claim.
See a complete list of information needed and apply for Social Security Disability online or call Social Security toll-free at 1-800-772-1213.
Evans Disability can help you prepare all the required documentation and ensure your application is completed and filed correctly. Don’t let a mistake on your Social Security Disability application lead to its denial. Contact us for a free consultation.
4. Don’t Miss Deadlines and Risk Your Claim Getting Denied
After filing a Social Security Disability claim, it is vital to meet all deadlines. Missing these deadlines could jeopardize your chance of being approved. Pay close attention to your disability claim as it proceeds through the approval process. For example:
- Call Social Security to check on the status of your claim.
- Make sure Social Security has all the documentation and ask if you can provide any other information.
- Check your email and text messages frequently and respond to them promptly.
Social Security will review your case and send you a letter granting or denying disability benefits. If you receive a denial letter, you will have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
Generally, you have 60 days after receiving the decision to request an appeal. There are four levels of appeal:
- Request for Reconsideration
- Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge
- Review by the Appeals Council
- Federal Court review
If Social Security denies your benefits, call Evans Disability. Our team knows how to navigate the appeals process and win your Social Security Disability claim.
To learn more about each appeal level, visit Information About Social Security’s Hearings and Appeals Process.
5. Be Honest With Yourself and the Social Security Administration
Ensure you are honest with yourself, your providers, and the SSA when filing for disability benefits. Dishonesty will likely prevent you from receiving benefits.
For example, Social Security will likely ask you to complete an Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire form. The form helps evaluate how severely your medical impairment affects daily living.
Also, a Social Security Examiner may contact your provider to get more details about your disability or condition. Providing false or misleading information on this form may result in your claim being denied.
It is essential to strike the balance of not exaggerating or lying but not diminishing the effects of your disability. It may be helpful to discuss your disability limitations with a trusted friend or family member before filing your application.
For example, a friend might remind you how often you canceled plans with them due to excessive fatigue caused by your disability.
6. Maintain Communication and Keep Detailed Records of Your Disability
It is crucial to communicate with your attorney and healthcare providers through the Social Security Disability process. Keep them informed about your medical condition and anything relevant to your case.
For example, keep details about your disability, like:
- See your doctor regularly and keep records of all doctor visits and other medical appointments.
- Document your daily routine, tasks you perform, exercises, or special diet you follow.
- Document the medications you take and their side effects.
Keeping your attorney or advocate informed about your medical condition is vital. Showing a detailed medical history of your disability will improve your chance of winning Social Security cases.
Medical records also help the Social Security Administration or hearing officer understand your disability better. For example, knowing how long your condition has lasted, how long it may last, and how it affects your ability to function daily will help influence their decision.
7. Prepare for an Administrative Law Judge Hearing
If you disagree with the Reconsideration decision, you may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Administrative hearings use similar processes and procedures as traditional courtrooms. The difference is an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) oversees the hearing.
A hearing with an ALJ is the only chance you will have to make your case for benefits in person. Also, most hearings only last an hour. This is a very short time to prove your disability case.
It is essential to prepare and make sure you have everything to succeed. You don’t have to go through this alone. A qualified disability attorney will help you prepare, analyze your case file, and ensure you are ready for difficult questions. This way, you can go in more relaxed and confident.
These general tips will help win your Administrative Law Judge hearing:
- Base your answers on the worst days with your disability, not your best days. For example, provide specific details like “I cannot walk due to hip pain five out of seven days of the week. Avoid vague answers like “sometimes I have hip pain.”
- The ALJ may ask questions that seem confusing to you. It is okay and common practice to ask the Judge to repeat or reword the question.
- Never guess or provide an answer you think the ALJ would like to hear. Make sure you answer the question as thoroughly and honestly as possible.
- It is normal for several people to be in the courtroom during the hearing. It is okay to ask for clarification if you do not know who the ALJ is addressing. Better to ask than not have your answers recorded on the official legal record.
- Keep your attorney or advocate informed of all medical or condition changes. This will help them maximize the ALJ’s understanding of your situation during your hearing.
- It is best to wear business casual clothing. For example, a simple collard shirt without a tie for men or a nice blouse for women. There is no need to purchase a fancy suit or dress for this occasion. Also, ensure your clothing does not have visible logos or statements.
- Do not bring prohibited items in the courtroom. Ask your attorney, advocate, or court personal what is allowed in the courtroom.
To sum up, be sure to ask your attorney or advocate questions beforehand, dress appropriately for court, and answer the questions asked by the Administrative Law Judge to the best of your ability.
Ready to Win Your Social Security Disability?
Our highly qualified disability attorneys will help guide you through every stage of the Social Security Disability process. This includes the initial application, denial, hearing, appeals council, or appealing to the Federal courts.
Evans Disability will use their one hundred plus years of combined experience in arguing Social Security Disability cases to advocate on your behalf and get the benefits you deserve.