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How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

What You Need and What You Need to Do

How to Apply

To begin the application process for a Social Security Disability claim, you must first schedule an interview with the Social Security Administration. This can be done by calling 1-800-772-1213 and setting up a telephone or in-person interview.

What You Will Need

When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you must be prepared to provide the Social Security Administration with various pieces of information. The information you will need to provide includes:

  • An original or certified copy of your birth certificate
  • Your most recent wage documents such as a W-2 form and pay stub from when you last worked
  • A list of ALL medical providers that have treated you for your disability, including their name, address and telephone numbers
  • Copies of any medical records in your possession documenting treatment for your disability

Tips to Help Maximize Your Claim

Many individuals feel that they can be approved for Social Security Disability benefits by simply stating to the Social Security Administration their physical ailments and why they cannot work anymore. This is often not enough to guarantee disability benefits, however, and many truly disabled people find themselves denied of benefits.

To help combat this, individuals filing for Social Security Disability should make sure to emphasize two issues to the Social Security Administration:

  • That they are receiving consistent medical treatment for their disability
  • That their disability has caused them to have limitations

It is important to show that you are receiving medical care for your disability, and that the care is consistent. This means you should not “jump around” from doctor to doctor or receive treatment a couple of times. Instead, seek medical attention from a professional doctor and clinic, and go to every appointment.

The Social Security Administration often judges an individual as being truly disabled by the limitations they have as a result of their disability. Instead of emphasizing the general medical diagnosis given to you by your doctor, focus on communicating to the Administration how your disability limits you to do certain things, and how these limitations affect your ability to continue working.

If you or someone you know has a disability that is keeping them from being able to work, it may be wise to contact an attorney knowledgeable in Social Security Disability. For a free consultation, please contact the New Smyrna Beach Personal Injury Attorneys at Rue & Ziffra

The above entry is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be intended or construed as such. It is intended only as general information. No individual reading it should act upon it. Reading this entry does not create any relationship between Rue & Ziffra and individuals reading it. If you have questions or concerns, please seek professional legal counsel.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
Written by: Luis R. Gracia, Esq.
Author: Webmaster / Number of views (25) / Comments (0)
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Applying for Social Security Disability: What to Do to Make a Strong Case

Submitting a Social Security Disability application and going through the claims process can be a challenging task for anyone, let alone someone who is ill and disabled. This is because the Social Security Administration has set policies and procedures in place that strictly guide how a claim is processed and evaluated.

Contrary to what you may think, many disabled individuals try to fight for Social Security benefits alone, without legal representation from an attorney. What’s worse, is that they often “go into battle” unprepared, not knowing what to say or how to prove that they are indeed disabled. This is a truly unfortunate circumstance, especially when justly disabled people get denied for benefits when maybe they could have said or done a few things differently.

Although there is no particular tip that can guarantee an individual approval for Social Security Disability benefits, there are some ways to help make your case stronger, whether you seek out legal representation from a lawyer or choose to do it alone:

Gain support from your doctor

It is crucial that your physician supports your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. They are the one that has been treating you directly for your disabling condition and they can give credit to your physical expectations and limitations. Lack of a medical diagnosis backing up your disability can often be the reason you get denied.

One advantage to hiring a Social Security Disability attorney to represent your claim is that they can order your doctor to complete a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment form. This is a form that can be filled out by your treating physician that states, point by point, the details and limitations of your disability. For example, this form will include questions such as how much you can lift and for how long can you stand or sit during a given period. Having your doctor fill out this form can help you develop the medical evidence necessary to win your case.

It is important to realize that, although getting supportive medical treatment can make your case for disability stronger, receiving consistent, supportive medical care is even better. This simply means tostick with one or two physicians and don’t skip out on any appointments!

Focus on your limitations

The Social Security Administration often judges an individual as being truly disabled by the limitations they have as a result of their disability. Instead of emphasizing the general medical diagnosis given to you by your doctor, focus on communicating to the administration how your disability limits you to do certain things, and how these limitations affect your ability to continue working.

There are three main types of limitations that can result from a disability:

  • Postural – Physical limitations such as experiencing difficulty with balance, problems with sitting and/or standing too long and difficulty reaching for and/or handling objects.
  • Environmental – Limitations concerning your surroundings, such as having difficulty being exposed to certain temperatures.
  • Mental – Limitations concerning your mental state, such as having difficulty understanding instructions or concentrating for certain periods of time.

Give complete information

From the time you first apply for Social Security Disability benefits to when you are talking to a judge in a hearing, always give complete information regarding your disability. Make sure that the Social Security Administration is aware of all the medical providers treating you and how to contact them. Also, inform the administration (and your doctors) of any and all medical ailments you have. This includes both physical and mental conditions. The administration is required to consider all of your medical conditions, individually and in combination, to determine whether you are disabled.

Understand the Social Security Administration Process

Although hiring an attorney can greatly help an individual successfully receive disability benefits, it is important for everyone filing a Social Security Disability claim to know and understand how the process works. Knowing what’s expected of you right from the beginning can help to increase your chances of receiving benefits, not to mention save you time and frustration if “issues” occur.

Along with understanding the process of filing for Social Security Disability benefits, it also proves important to know and understand the administration’s language. The government has adopted and continues to reinvent a system filled with acronyms and numbers. In order to communicate effectively with them, you must learn what they are (and will be) saying!

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits doesn’t have to be intimidating, and it sure doesn’t have to be straining on someone who is already suffering from a disability. If you or someone you love would like more information on Social Security Disability, please contact the Flagler County personal injury attorneys at Rue & Ziffra for your free consultation.

The above entry is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be intended or construed as such. It is intended only as general information. No individual reading it should act upon it. Reading this entry does not create any relationship between Rue & ZIffra and individuals reading it. If you have questions or concerns, please seek professional legal counsel.

Applying for Social Security Disability: What to Do to Make a Strong Case
Written by: Luis R. Gracia, Esq.
Author: Webmaster / Number of views (2) / Comments (0)
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A Treating Physician is an SSD/SSI Claimant’s Best Ally

The Importance of Medical Records

There is no doubt that the most important aspect of a claimant’s Social Security Disability/Supplemental Security Income claim (SSD/SSI) lies in the content of his/her medical records. In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can result in death or which has lasted or can last for a continuous period not less than 1 year.

The only way that one can prove a medically determinable impairment is by way of medical records. Of course, treating physicians and other medical providers are in charge of drafting these records. So, plainly stated, doctors hold the most important key in their patients’ SSD/SSI claims. However, it is not simply medical records what wins a disability claim but the content of those records.

Confirming a Patient’s Limitations?

Different from what many people think, in order to determine whether someone is disabled, the SSA does not focus on medical conditions and diagnoses as much as they look for limitations caused by those conditions. It is in this respect that treating physicians can be their patients’ best allies.

When treating doctors not only describe a patient’s medical condition or diagnosis but also their specific physical or mental restrictions, they can give their patients powerful evidence of disability. This is essential in light of the fact that SSA often hires their own physicians and medical examiners that will comment on a claimant’s condition. For the most part, these doctors will only review records or examine a claimant once, and then render opinions (that in the overwhelming majority of the time) will be unfavorable to claimants.

Established Relationships are Key

Another reason why a treating physician’s opinion is such a powerful tool for a claimant in a disability case is found in the SSA’s own rules. Generally, the SSA will give more credence to the opinion of medical providers who have examined claimants than to the opinion of someone who has not. Further, the SSA will also give more weight to opinions from the claimant’s treating doctors since they have the best picture of his/her overall medical impairments and how they affect them (after all, they have been the ones monitoring the claimant’s medical state for a longer period of time). This means that if an individual’s doctor(s), based on the medical treatment he/she has provided them, finds that the claimant has limitations that are consistent with their medical history, tests and treatment, the doctor’s opinion will most likely have controlling weight. That’s why an established relationship with a doctor is of such high importance.

However, beware! Just going to a doctor a few times and getting a favorable opinion from him/her will probably not be given a lot of credit by the SSA. Also, if a doctor gives an opinion that their patient is disabled, but such opinion lacks specific limitations or medical support to back that opinion, it will likewise be given little or no weight. As a result, it is important for disability claimants to talk to their doctors about their limitations and make sure that any limitations or favorable opinions given by their doctors make it to the medical records.

Be Proactive!

In light of all this, remember that medical records, followed by a medical provider’s opinion stating that a claimant has limitations causing their disability, can win an SSD/SSI case regardless of what SSA’s hired “doctors” say or write. It is up to a patient-claimant to make sure that the records of his/her physician address those areas to improve their chances of success (confirming they have mental/physical limitations). In the end, no one will have more of an impact on an SSD/SSI claim than a claimant’s doctor.

If you would like more information about the Social Security Disability claims process, you can view the website of Rue & Ziffra or call for a free consultation. We employ Social Security attorneys that are knowledgeable in many aspects of disability claims and other types of personal injury cases.

The above entry is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be intended or construed as such. It is intended only as general information. No individual reading it should act upon it. Reading this entry does not create any relationship between Rue & Ziffra and individuals reading it. If you have questions or concerns, please seek professional legal counsel.

A Treating Physician is an SSD/SSI Claimant’s Best Ally
Written by: Luis R. Gracia, Esq.
Author: Webmaster / Number of views (1) / Comments (0)
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Medication Side Effects Can Help Your Disability Claim

There is a popular saying that goes, “Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease”. Speaking as a Social Security attorney, there is a lot of truth to that old adage and it is certainly applicable to many Social Security Disability claims. This is because, when an individual claims that he/she is disabled, Social Security regulations state that those adjudicating the claim have to consider the claimant’s ability to perform work-like activities given his or her physical and/or mental limitations. This is known as a disability claimant’s “residual functional capacity”. As a result of the regulations, the Social Security Administration will examine one’s limitations and more specifically, their cause. It is in this evaluation where medication side effects come into play.

Medical conditions can cause a wide variety of symptoms, many of which may not be significant to cause functional limitations (a condition that causes a disability claimant to be limited in the work they can perform). Other conditions, however, may cause symptoms strong enough that only equally strong medication(s) can be used to control them. Unfortunately, many medications carry with them undesirable, yet common side effects. The question, then, is what happens if a person’s symptoms are controlled with medications (and the limitations caused by those symptoms are no longer a major problem) but the side effects result in limitations as strong as the ones caused by the original symptoms? The answer is clear: Social Security will have to consider those side effects and the limitations they cause because, just as the original symptoms, they have an impact on a person’s residual functional capacity. Let’s look at back pain as an example. Back pain may result in a person’s inability to sit, walk, stand and carry objects for a reasonable period of time. In order to control the pain, doctors may prescribe a strong, narcotic medication. What often happens is that, although the medication will bring down or eliminate the level of pain, its side effects may significantly compromise the person’s ability to work. For instance, if the medication causes severe drowsiness, the individual may have trouble paying attention, concentrating, keeping up with their workflow or following instructions properly. In more serious cases, like ones involving cancer, the side effects associated with chemotherapy can have a devastating effect on a person’s ability to function. As a result,Social Security will have to evaluate those side effects and weigh them accordingly to determine whether or not they limit their ability to work.

In light of all this, it is important to remember one thing: If one of your prescribed drugs makes you tired, overly drowsy or sleepy, too emotional or even irrational, unable to drive, unable to concentrate or think clearly, or unable to remember things, this can have an impact on your claim for Social Security Disability benefits! Medication side effects that prevent you from working are as important as the symptoms that trigger the need for the medication(s) in the first place.

If you would like more information about Social Security Disability benefits, you can view the website of Rue & Ziffra or call for a free consultation. We employ Social Security attorneys that are knowledgeable in many aspects of disability claims and other types of personal injury cases.

The above entry is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be intended or construed as such. It is intended only as general information. No individual reading it should act upon it. Reading this entry does not create any relationship between Rue & Ziffra and individuals reading it. If you have questions or concerns, please seek professional legal counsel.

Medication Side Effects Can Help Your Disability Claim
Written by: Luis R. Gracia, Esq.
Author: Webmaster / Number of views (2) / Comments (0)
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Social Security Disability Hearings: Why Representation is a Necessity

When it comes to Social Security Disability (and possibly all legal claims in general), there is nothing that places individuals on edge more than the word “trial”. A trial, which can be defined as the process where parties to a dispute come together to present evidence in a tribunal with the authority to adjudicate those disputes, is a serious and important event in the life of any claim. Both plaintiffs and defendants understand this importance. As a result, very few trials take place without attorneys present to represent the interests of their clients. Yet, when it comes to Social Security Disability cases, it is surprising to know that many individuals don’t seek representation from a lawyer when going to their disability hearing.

Social Security Disability hearings are intended to be informal events designed to allow the claimant to tell the judge the reasons why he or she can no longer work. However, many individuals (mistakenly) overlook a hearing because they do not relate it to being a “trial”. Unlike a trial, a hearing doesn’t follow the rules of civil procedure or evidence, is supposed to be non-adversarial and lasts only about 30 minutes to an hour. On the other hand, trials are much more formal, where procedure is strictly followed, and can potentially take months to resolve. Also, parties are typically subjected to examination from attorneys on both sides.

Although a hearing and a trial may seem obviously different, the reality is that when it comes to someone’s Social Security Disability claim, their hearing is really their trial.

Claimants filing for disability benefits often claim that they want their day in “court.” What they don’t realize, though, is that they will get it, albeit in a different way. If you look deeper at the hearing process, you will begin to see how it relates to a court trial:

  • Before a hearing, claimants will have to first review their file and decide whether their record is complete and accurate. This is because if they fail to point out inaccuracies or incompleteness of exhibits in the record, they may receive a waiver of that issue.
  • They will be placed under oath.
  • They may be expected to make an opening statement where they will have to state the theory of their case, i.e., under what basis or authority they claim to be disabled.
  • They will be subjected to questions from an administrative law judge. Although not often, sometimes judges can ask totally objectionable questions and just like in the case of exhibits, failure to object to the questions can result in a waiver.
  • They may face vocational experts and/or medical experts and will have the chance to examine or cross-examine them. A claimant’s inability to properly question an expert can be fatal to their claim.
  • Finally, claimants are many times asked for a closing argument. Not knowing what to argue may leave the record devoid of important issues for appeal.

So, with all of that said, the question is simple: being that Social Security Disability hearings are basically “light” versions of bench trials, why would anyone go to a hearing unrepresented? Considering that the disability process is so long and daunting, it makes sense to be as prepared as possible. A Social Security Disability attorney will make sure that his or her client’s interests are well protected. After all, lawyers representing disabled individuals only get compensated if they secure benefits for their clients.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to go through a hearing alone. Remember the old saying that goes “He who represents himself has a fool for a client”? Well, that is certainly true in Social Security Disability law. Going through the process alone is a risk that you should not bear. You have too much to lose.

If you or a loved one would like to receive more information about Social Security Disability representation, please contact the Volusia County personal injury attorneys at Rue & Ziffra for your free consultation today.

The above entry is NOT LEGAL ADVICE and should not be intended or construed as such. It is intended only as general information. No individual reading it should act upon it. Reading this entry does not create any relationship between Rue & Ziffra and individuals reading it. If you have questions or concerns, please seek professional legal counsel.

Social Security Disability Hearings: Why Representation is a Necessity
Written by: Luis R. Gracia, Esq.
Author: Webmaster / Number of views (3) / Comments (0)
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