One of the biggest complaints we hear from our clients is how long the process of receiving Social Security Disability benefits can take. A harsh reality of filing for Social Security Disability is that it is a long and tedious process. The most important thing to remember is, whether your claim takes two months or two years, you want the final decision to be an award of benefits. Below are five methods of improving your claim so that you have a better chance at being awarded.
- Go to the Doctor
When you file a claim for Social Security Disability, you are alleging that you are unable to work due to a severe medical impairment. Social Security (SSA) uses your treatment records to determine the severity of your condition. It is very important to maintain regular treatment for two main reasons: 1) SSA may view your lack of treatment as evidence that your condition is not as severe as you allege and 2) treating on a frequent basis means there will be more objective evidence supporting your claim.
Remember, if SSA does not feel they have enough medical evidence to make a decision, they may schedule you for an examination with a doctor they hire. These examinations can be very brief and unsupportive to your claim. Your likelihood of being awarded is much greater if you have supportive findings from a treating physician.
- Obtain a Supportive Doctor’s Statement
To be found disabled, you have to prove both that you have a severe medical condition and that condition prevents you from performing the functional requirements of competitive employment. Medical records alone may be insufficient in establishing the functional limitations resulting from your condition(s).
A medical source statement (MSS) is a form that details the specific functional limitations resulting from your impairments. A supportive MSS from your treating physician is a crucial piece of evidence because it helps Social Security translate your medical records from that provider into functional limitations. This is key in supporting your claim.
- Promptly Return Paperwork
After you file an application for Social Security Disability, you will receive a series of forms to complete and return to SSA. These forms may include an Adult Function Report, Work History Report, and/or Third Party Function Report. These forms may seem repetitive and unimportant. In fact, these forms are extremely important to your claim.
A failure to complete these forms could result in delaying your claim or even being denied. Once you receive these forms, take the time you need to complete them accurately. However, it is important to understand that these forms are integral to the processing of your claim. The longer it takes you to return them, the longer you will have to wait for a decision.
- Submit an Accurate Application
The initial application for Social Security Disability includes a section where a claimant is required to provide treatment/doctor information. Inaccurate or incomplete information in this section is one of the most common mistakes unrepresented claimants make. This is also one of the most common reasons unrepresented claimants are denied.
SSA requires medical records supporting your disability. They request your medical records based on the information you provide on your initial application (or your reconsideration appeal). If you fail to provide them with enough information, they simply will not obtain your records and you will be denied.
If you are considering filing an application for Social Security Disability benefits, we strongly encourage you to have your treatment information readily available; including doctor’s name, facility name, address, phone number, and when you started treating there.
- Hire a Representative
Hiring a representative to assist with your Social Security Disability claim has many benefits. Most notably, an experienced representative will be able to work with you to complete items 1-4 of this list. Our firm has an entire department of experienced Application Technicians whose sole responsibility is filing accurate applications for our clients.
In addition, our Case Management Department is always available to assist you with completing forms. We also attempt to obtain a supportive medical source statement for every client to improve their chances of being awarded. Finally, should your claim reach the hearing level, our hearing department will work with your treating facilities to obtain updated medical records. Hiring a company experienced in navigating the Social Security process greatly improves your chances of winning.
By: Devon Brady, Premier Disability Services, LLC®