If you are applying for Social Security disability benefits, it is because you have run out of other options. You may have tried doing lighter work, or changing careers, or even tried going back to school. However, you find that you are still not able to work. You don’t want to apply for Social Security disability benefits. You don’t want to deal with the bureaucracy, the forms, and waiting for more than a year for your disability benefits. But, you do not have a choice! And since you paid into Social Security your entire working life, it should be there for you when you need it?
Here are some tips to improve your chances of getting approved for Social Security disability benefits.
Don’t wait until you lose your medical insurance to apply
There is a rule of thumb in Social Security disability cases, “absence of evidence IS evidence of absence.” In other words, if you do not have evidence showing you are disabled right now, you are probably not disabled. If you don’t have recent treatment records supporting your disability, Social Security may assume your condition is not that bad. While we both know that is not really true, it often seems that is how Social Security works.
If you cannot afford to see a doctor, or you cannot see a specialist, for your disabilities, Social Security may decide that your conditions are not severe enough to keep you from working. And that gets many people denied each year.
So, while you still have health insurance and can see the doctor you choose, and can see specialists, it is important to get that disability application started. If you waiting until you are on a six month waiting list for the community clinic, your chances of winning your disability case may drop like a rock!
Get your medical records
Social Security will request your medical records for you. However, like a game of blind man’s bluff, Social Security will not tell you what records have been requested, or received, until after deciding your case. If records are missing or incomplete, you do not get a “do over.” You simply have to appeal or go back to square one and reapply (if you can).
Do you really want to spend four to six months waiting for a decision just to discover Social Security did not get critical medical records?
If you want Social Security to have the necessary evidence to evaluate your disability claim, the only way to be sure is to get your medical records to Social Security yourself!
Get a Medical Source Statement
Do you want to know the one critical piece of evidence missing in nearly every Social Security disability case? It is a medical source statement from your own doctor. A medical source statement, also called a residual functional capacity questionnaire is a form completed by your doctor that tells Social Security about your work-place limitations. This includes physical limitations, such as how much you can lift and carry and how long you can sit, stand and walk; as well as psychological limitations (for example if you have depression or social anxiety disorder) and have a hard time being out in public or interacting with other people.
Don’t count on Social Security asking your doctor what your limitations are! Most of the time, Social Security will only ask their own physicians to make an opinion of your limitations (with or without sending you to a Social Security consultative examination). Fortunately, you can get a free RFC form to take to your doctor to get an opinion of your abilities and limitations.
Nearly two thirds of cases are denied. And it is not just non-deserving cases. Good, hardworking people get denied every day because they do not look at their Social Security disability case the same way that Social Security will. When you know you are disabled, it is hard to figure out how you are going to prove that to a disability examiner who has to be skeptical about every application. You will not see where the gaps in your case are. You need someone who has seen how cases are denied. Someone who can tell you how your case may be denied and what you can do about it.
Now, of course, you can simply wait to see what Social Security will do. Wait the four to six months to see if you are approved or denied and then get help if you need it. That is what many people do. However, keep in mind that that while the wait for an initial decision is four to six months, it may take over a year to get your Colorado Social Security disability case in front of a judge. Getting help early from a skilled disability representative can reduce the time you have to wait for a decision and improve your chances of winning your Social Security disability case.
Image provided by Angelina Litvin