It can take up to six months or longer for an initial SSD application to process. Of all the people who apply for SSD benefits, only approximately 35% get approved at the initial application level. So what is the biggest reason why people do not get approved for Social Security Disability benefits? They fail to meet basic eligibility requirements.
If your initial claim is denied, you will have to go through an appeals process. This can take up to a further six months or longer to receive a determination on your appeal. When you are unable to work and need benefits, waiting a long time for SSD approval can be stressful. These top seven tips may help you get approved and, in some cases, approved faster.
1. Make sure you are in treatment for all of your conditions and keep track of your medical documents.
Having sufficient medical evidence can make or break your SSD claim. You should be treated with specialist physicians for each of your health conditions before you start your application. Make a list of all of your medical treatment. If you can, obtain copies of all your medical records (in many states, you do not need to pay for copies of these records if you are getting them for your disability benefits claim).
But keep in mind, once you complete the application, that is not the end of it. You will need to keep track of all your ongoing medical treatment (and if you can, continue to collect all medical records, including for hospital visits, doctors’ appointments, diagnostic test results).
2. Make sure the application is complete.
Dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s is vital for any formal application. But for SSD claims, ensuring the application is complete may increase your chances of approval.
So, how can you make this part of the process easier on yourself? Gather all of your required documents before you start the application. You can download the SSA checklist to see what information and documentation you have and what critical information you might need.
3. Follow your doctors’ orders.
Following your doctors’ orders will improve your claim’s credibility.
If you do not follow through with your doctors’ prescribed treatments, the SSA will likely think your conditions are not that serious. So, take medications as prescribed, attend scheduled appointments, and undergo any tests your doctor has ordered.
4. Pay attention to your earnings.
If you are still working part-time when you apply for SSDI benefits, you must pay close attention to how much money you earn each month and save all pay stubs to provide to SSA eventually. In 2021, you must be earning less than $1330 gross per month (even in those months with extra pay periods, and including any bonuses you receive). This limit is called substantial gainful activity or SGA by the Social Security Administration.
If you earn above this amount, you will not be eligible for benefits, despite being ill or injured. But not all income is regarded as SGA; only money you earn for work activity is counted. For example, if you receive investment or rental income, that is not considered SGA.
Earnings are assessed differently, with further restrictions, for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
5. Adhere to all deadlines.
After you submit your application, various other documents will need to be submitted as your claim for benefits is reviewed by SSA. If your initial application is denied, you will need to file an appeal within a specific time frame.
Failing to submit requested documents or meet deadlines jeopardizes your claim’s viability. For example, if you are denied benefits and then miss the appeal deadline, you will usually have to start the application process all over again from the beginning.
6. Track your claim status.
Keep close tabs on your claim status by staying in contact with the SSA. You can contact your assigned claims representative or vocational disability examiner if you have a question about your claim status.
It is also a good idea to keep a log of any communication you have with the SSA, including the date, topic of discussion, name of the person you talked to, and their contact information. You should also keep track of when you send any documents to them. Keeping a close watch on your claim’s status will also decrease the chances of missing a deadline.
7. Contact an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.
Along with the above six tips, you may further increase your chances of having your claim approved when you hire an experienced disability attorney to help you.
An experienced disability attorney can file your initial application for you. If you have already applied, they can take over all communications with SSA and handle all documents that need to be submitted during the process, including filing any necessary appeals. They will know what deadlines to watch out for and anticipate any likely problems with the process that can hold up your claim or cause a denial of benefits. An experienced disability attorney can also communicate with your doctors to ensure that your medical evidence is sufficient to help support your claim. They can also make suggestions for what type of specialist physicians you should be treated with to help strengthen your claim for benefits.
When you are unable to support yourself and your family due to a medical condition, waiting for your SSD claim to be approved can be incredibly overwhelming. By hiring an experienced disability attorney, you can eliminate the chances for errors in your file that may result in delay or a denial of benefits.
Before entering private practice, Attorney Sara J. Frankel was a staff attorney at the Social Security Administration. Thanks to her unique background, she knows how the SSD claims process works from an inside perspective.
Contact Attorney Sara J. Frankel today at 508-730-1451 for a free consultation and help with your SSD application and or appeal.