Whether it was through an accident or an illness, you may find yourself unable to work. You may wonder how you will support yourself and your family if your condition keeps you from working for a year or longer.
Someone may have told you that you could apply for Social Security disability benefits. You may have read online what the application process entails, and while it may seem easy, you heard that the Social Security Administration denies most applications on the first try. The process could take up to a year or more to complete if this happens, but you need help as quickly as possible. This may leave you wondering what to do to increase the chances of receiving benefits on your first application.
The first hurdle: Qualifying for benefits
The first step is to ensure that you qualify for benefits. Despite what you may read on the SSA's website, you may still receive benefits even under the following circumstances that are admittedly more challenging because they don't appear to neatly fit into any category:
- Your reason for applying stems from an emotional or mental issue.
- You are disabled and over the age of 50.
- You suffer from more than one illness or injury.
- Your fatigue, pain or other physical condition is not readily identifiable as a chronic condition.
- You suffer from a condition that may not be debilitating for everyone.
Under any of these circumstances, your quest for much-needed benefits will more than likely require a more complex application process than normal. However, that doesn't mean you can't proceed. You may just require more help.
The second hurdle: Applying for benefits
It may sound flippant when someone tells you to "get it right the first time" when applying for benefits. Often, this task proves easier said than done. You can increase your chances of successfully applying for benefits with the following tips:
- Provide as much documentation of your condition, your treatment and your prognosis as possible. One mistake that people often make is not providing the right information or complete documentation.
- Include detailed opinions from your doctor or doctors regarding the severity of your condition and the extent of your impairment. This includes the activities you can't perform due to your current and future condition.
- Following up on your application is crucial. Make sure that your information gets to the right person or people.
- When you receive additional forms to fill out and return, add your medical evidence to them. It's better to duplicate the information than for the original submissions to be lost or with the wrong people.
The problem most people encounter involves knowing what information will best illustrate that your condition keeps you from obtaining gainful employment. The application process includes many fail-safe measures to help prevent fraudulent claims. While this protects the system and helps ensure that benefits go to truly needy individuals, it also makes the process more difficult, which helps explain why so many people receive denials.
The third hurdle: Dealing with a denial
Knowing that many applicants receive denials on the first attempt, you may want to go ahead and anticipate that you will not be successful in receiving benefits on your first application. Don't give up if the SSA denies your initial claim. You retain the right to file an appeal, which may or may not include a hearing.
The fourth hurdle: Getting help
You may find that it would be easier to have a legal advocate on your side. A South Dakota attorney who handles numerous applications for these benefits could prove invaluable in your process. Even if you receive a denial, an attorney could help you through the appeal and hearing process.