Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Applying for Social Security disability benefits is easy but winning at application is not. Many of you have heard that everyone loses when they first apply for SSD or SSI benefits. This is not true. However, it happens more frequently than it should because most people when they apply do so without getting a lawyer or doing any research into what they need to win their disability claim. If you simply apply, give SSA all the information they asked for, and hope you win then you are not doing all you can to win your case at this stage. Many of you may have tried to get a lawyer to help you with your application and then were told to wait till you are denied and call them back. I do not believe this is the right approach and certainly don't believe it gives you the best chance to win when you apply. If you are told this by a lawyer you may want to consider finding a Social Security Disability lawyer who is willing to help you right from the start. I say this for several reasons. First, the reason most lawyers do not take cases at application is simply a matter of a business decision on their part. If a lawyer takes your case at application and wins his fee, because it is based on past due benefits, will be less than if they win your case at a later stage in the process. I think it is best to make sure the case is done properly from the beginning to ensure you are giving yourself the best chance to win and do not do anything at application that could make your case more difficult to win later. If you take the time to learn what you need to know to win your case or you hire a lawyer you then can take steps or your lawyer can take steps to get all the information necessary to win at the application stage of the SSA process. This includes, making sure the decision makers at Social Security have all the information both medical and non-medical to find in your favor. Perhaps the most important evidence and what is frequently not in your file at this stage is opinion evidence from your doctor about how your medical condition limits you functionally. This opinion evidence can come in the form of a report from your doctors or by using what is commonly called RFC forms. RFC forms are specifically made for medical conditions and if filled out by your doctor will show the limitations that are important for Social Security to know in order to make a determination. There are two basic forms one for physical limitations and one for mental limitations. If you would like a copy of either one of these forms feel free to send me an e-mail and I were reply back with them attached. Do not expect SSA to requests these forms or a report from your doctors. SSA employees may send out requests for medical records and perhaps a watered-down version of these forms that do very little to help prove your disability. They will then rely on what their doctors have to say to determine if you are disabled or not. SSA is supposed to give your treating doctors more weight than the opinion of SSA doctors but in practice they do not always follow this rule. If they do not have opinion evidence from your doctor then they will certainly defer to what their doctors have to say your limitations are. You may also meet or equal a listed impairment which would direct a finding of disabled. However, a doctor must say you meet or equal a listed impairment, point out which one, and it must be supported by the other evidence in the file. If you feel you meet or equal a listed impairment you should take a copy of the listings to your doctor to get their opinion. Again, do not expect the employees at Social Security to do this for you. You must either do it yourself or get a lawyer to help you. To find the medical listings of impairments for your medical conditions you can find the listings on the link provided in this sentence. To find your particular medical condition you must first pick the adult or child listings on the left of the page and then find the category you think your medical condition would fit into and then look for your medical condition. This may take some time to find your condition because it may not be in the category were you would expect it to be. If you want to know what you need and how to apply for SSD or SSI benefits visit my page on the subject. If you want to win your Social Security disability claim at application get a lawyer to help you or research my website and the SSA website so that you know what you have to do to give yourself the best chance to win at this stage.