Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Basics of Disability Claims

If you are trying to win a disability claim whether it be Social Security disability or veterans compensation there are certain things you should do to give yourself the best chance to win. In this post I will not get into the details of a Social Security disability or VA disability claim but rather talk about general things you should do in either type of claim. Many of the things I will mention will seem obvious but sometimes the most obvious things are overlooked and can cost you your chance at winning your claim.

First, you should know what evidence SSA or the VA have. After all, the decision they make will be based on the evidence which they have in front of them. This brings me to my next point. Make sure all the evidence medical and otherwise that support your claim have been submitted to the decision makers of your claim. If you have a lawyer or representative all evidence should be sent to them so they can review it and then submit it. In VA cases you can find out what evidence they have by requesting your C-file and service medical records. In Social Security cases it can be a little more difficult to know exactly what is in your file at least until you get to the hearing stage when you can get a copy of your file. Before you get to the hearing stage you may want to call your local office to see what evidence they have been able to obtain.

Second, you should know what you need to prove to win your case. If the law is confusing to you and you are unsure of what you have to prove, then it may be time to consider getting a lawyer if you are not already represented. If you know what you have to prove and you know what evidence is in their file, you then can take the next step which is to get the additional information or medical evidence you need to prove your case. In some cases you may need to get medical evidence that is crucial to your claim that they do not have. In other cases, you may need an opinion letter from a doctor or vocational expert. Both the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Administration are often looking for very specific things and opinion letters from experts. You must know what those things are.

Lastly, the biggest mistake you can make is to think that you have a good enough case that you can leave it up to the VA or SSA to get the evidence for you. If you are not active in your case or at least have a lawyer that is, then don't expect your file to have everything you need to win. These government agencies deal with thousands upon thousands of claims. Only you or your representative have a personal stake in the out come of your claim. As I mentioned earlier, many of this may seem obvious but it does not hurt to read it because you may realize that you are not doing everything you can to give yourself the best chance to win your disability claim.