Sunday, November 21, 2010

Things to Know When Trying to Get Social Security Disability Benefits

In this post, I will talk about some things you should keep in mind when you have a Social Security disability claim. First, sometimes good claims get denied and bad claims win. This is true at every stage of the process and the decisions made at each stage. We sometimes forget that the Social Security Administration is made up of people. Like in all walks of life and jobs there are hard-working employees, lazy employees, and everywhere in between. Your SSDI or SSI claim can be affected adversely and positively depending on the employees that are working on your particular case and their individual opinions of disability. This is one reason you can see differing approval and denial rates in different states and even different local offices or hearing offices in the same state. Believe it or not, besides making sure you have all your medical records and doctors opinions and even a lawyer the second most important thing for winning your Social Security disability claim is to not give up if you can't work. It is my experience, that if you have a good claim and you truly can't work because of your medical conditions, in most cases, you will ultimately win if you continue to appeal your denials. As time goes on, if you and your lawyer are working hard on your case then time is your friend, because it enables you to keep improving your claim. This is not the only reason, another reason is every time you appeal a denial a different decision-maker will make a decision on your claim. So looking at it mathematically with each new person that looks at your claim to make a decision, there is a chance that the next person who looks at your claim might be more sympathetic to your claim then the last. Of course, this is not always the case, but if you keep appealing and you have a good claim chances are you will eventually get a decision-maker at Social Security who will look favorably upon your case and find you disabled. You should also know despite what you may have heard that not every case loses the first decision. For most of you who cannot work because of you disabilities, but do not meet or equal listing, or have a clear-cut case under the rules your best chance of winning will probably be at the hearing stage when your case is heard by an Administrative Law Judge at a SSDI or SSI hearing. Second, as you go through the stages of the Social Security disability process you should always be trying to improve your claim. For some of you, this may mean getting additional evidence that was not in your claim first time you were denied. Another way to improve your case is to hire an experienced Social Security disability lawyer. Whether you decide to get a lawyer or not, it is extremely important that you continue to learn as much as you can about what you have to prove for your particular case to win under the Social Security rules. You should know the five step test Social Security uses to determine if someone is disabled. You should also know how Social Security will handle your particular medical condition or conditions. If you have multiple conditions you should know how Social Security evaluates you combining all of these conditions to determine if you can work. I do understand that if you're trying to get Social Security disability benefits and you can't work that the idea of learning all of this information can be a bit overwhelming. I don't want to sound like I am promoting lawyers but for some of you having an attorney who already knows exactly how to handle your particular type of case can be extremely helpful in making sure you are giving yourself the best chance to win. The last thing you should know is that getting SSDI and SSI benefits can be a long and drawn out process and you must be prepared financially and mentally for the time it takes until you ultimately are able to succeed at winning your disability case. There is no way around it unless you are one of the lucky ones who win at application you must prepare yourself for the stress and frustration of the Social Security disability process.