You have probably heard the horror stories by now: even people with obviously severe handicaps have been rejected when they apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The rejection rates are harsh, with about two applicants being denied for every one who is accepted. It appears as if our government would rather see someone denied SSDI benefits even though he deserves them, rather than someone receive benefits without a valid claim.
Don’t blame the people who review the applications. They are just following the rules. Our elected representatives in Washington know that American voters blame them when people are found getting federal benefits by fraud, so the Social Security Administration is under orders to screen all SSDI applications very carefully. When someone applies, he must have paperwork on hand to show his claim is legitimate. If he doesn’t submit the proper documentation, his claim will be denied.
The one secret to getting your claim accepted on the first try
Even though the review process is strict, there is a simple way for any applicant to get his case approved: make sure that you have properly documented your disability claim. Yes, getting all this information collected and sorted can be a tedious, time-consuming process, but it’s basically no harder than keeping track of the medicine you take for chronic conditions or preparing a shopping list for your weekly trip to the grocery store.
The Social Security Administration suggests that you will want to have the following information available when you apply online for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, or when you visit your local Social Security community office to apply in person:
- A detailed work record going back for 15 years. You will need the names and contact information (supervisor’s name and job title, business name, address, and telephone number) for each employer, the dates you worked at that location, and a description of what your job duties were for that employer. This information will determine whether you have a sufficient work history to qualify for SSDI benefits, and your income will influence the amount of money you receive. You may find it helpful to refer back to your past federal income tax returns to collect this information.
- Medical records for the illness or injury that has led to your disability. This will include records of your treatment dates and diagnoses from doctors and other health care providers, such as therapists and caseworkers, as well as dates and reasons for hospitalizations and clinic visits. You may wish to talk to your primary care doctor to make sure he understands your need to document your disability.
- Test results, where relevant, from laboratory tests, medical imaging tests, vision or hearing exams, psychological tests, or any other evaluation procedure that may be relevant to your disability claim.
- Contact information for your medical care team. This should include names, addresses, telephone, and fax numbers for the hospitals and clinics where you have been treated, and similar information for your doctors or other health care providers.
- A list of the medications you are currently taking under doctors’ orders.
- A copy of your birth certificate or other documents to prove your identity.
We also recommend that you keep the originals of any personal documents you submit to the Social Security Administration; send photocopies only.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the application process
It is easy to become discouraged when you’re applying for Social Security Disability Insurance. The job demands painstaking attention to detail, and yet you are not in your best physical and emotional condition. There is a constant temptation to give up.
Don’t throw in the towel. Our Harrisburg Social Security attorneys from Schmidt Kramer have helped hundreds of clients in Pennsylvania obtain the SSDI benefits they need. Call us today at 717-888-8888 locally or (717) 888-8888 toll-free if you have any questions about the application process or if you want help handling your initial application or a repeal. We do not charge you for your first case consultation.