7 Important Things to Remember When Filing a Social Security Disability Claim
Although it is impossible to provide a “shortcut” that bypasses the disability review process to get straight to an award of benefits, there are certain tips to consider that can help improve both adjudication time and results.
Disclose ALL of your medical providers and their contact information in your application.
Social Security is not going to be doing your work for you, so make sure to get all of the relevant medical information to them.
Disclose ALL of your medical conditions.
The social security administration is required to consider all of your medical conditions, individually and in combination, to determine whether you are disabled. This means that you shouldn’t focus only on a specific condition that you believe is causing the most problems. Be sure to be specific as to the symptoms you are experiencing for each condition you face.
When it comes to your past relevant work, be detailed in the description of your physical and mental activities. If you have had to lift, carry, bend, stoop, crawl, etc., make sure to describe with particularity the circumstances in which you have had to engage in all of those activities. If your job required a fast pace of physical activity or rigorous concentration for extended periods of time, make sure you are specific in describing each and every detail.
The magic word in Social Security Disability law is limitations. You have to be specific as to the physical or mental limitations that you have as a result of your medical conditions. It is imperative, however, that you do not confuse medical conditions with limitations. Reasons for the inability to work such as a bad back, heart or depression are conditions rather than limitations. Also, do not confuse limitations with symptoms. Pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and constant crying are considered symptoms. Limitations, on the other hand, are the individual physical and/or mental restrictions caused by the symptoms flowing from your medical conditions. So, if you can only lift 10 pounds instead of 20, you have identified a limitation.
Do NOT waste time trying to convince Social Security of the things that you can no longer do.
Social security adjudicators are not interested in the things that you cannot do but rather in the things that you can. Sitting for only 30 minutes at a time before your pain makes you change positions, remembering only limited matters or only being able to concentrate for short periods of time are all things that you are able to do, although with limitations.
If the activities that you are able do are not sufficient to allow you to properly and regularly function in a normal work setting (employment for 5 days-40 hours a week or its equivalent), you are disabled.
Prepare your case according to what Social Security is looking for.
Often times, certain issues that make “sense” are deemed irrelevant in the disability review process. When filing a Social Security Disability claim, keep in mind that:
The possible, hypothetical job Social Security says you could complete may pay very little.
That you may have never completed this hypothetical job and have never been trained for it.
That the hypothetical job Social Security says you can do may not exist in your city, county or state (or there may not be any openings for it.)
That the hypothetical job Social Security says you can do is something you may have never considered doing.
Use time to your advantage.
You should do your best to use the amount of time it takes to process a disability claim to your advantage. Don’t just sit back and wait. If you are close to meet a listing but you are missing some medical/diagnostic testing or treatment, use the time to obtain that testing. If your claim is weak on specific limitations, use the time to strengthen that aspect of the case. A rather weak claim at the time of the initial application can be made into a strong claim by the time your case is ready to go to hearing.
Also, remember that if your claim is approved you will be entitled to receive back benefits. That means that the government has to compensate you for the time you spent going through the process to receive your approval. The point is that you should be using the time it takes for the claim to be adjudicated to improve and develop your case because in the end that time could, and most probably will, mean compensation to you.