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Top 10 Things Not To Do when Filing a Disability Claim
Each year, millions of people apply for disability. Last year alone there were 3.4 million disability claims submitted. Unfortunately, like the majority of applications, 2.3 million of those applications were denied.
It can be a tough and incredibly disappointing reality, to know that you are more likely to be denied Social Security Disability Insurance. But, it is important to realize denial is not the end of the road but merely part of the process. Yes, the majority of people are denied their Social Security Disability benefits after the initial application, but the next step is the key to receiving those benefits.
In 2011, there were nearly 860,000 people who appealed after they were denied SSDI and a large percentage of them were successful. What should you do if you are or will be one of those denied applicants? Here are the top 10 mistakes to steer clear of:
- Becoming Frustrated and Giving Up. Applying for these benefits is a complex process due to the multiple steps and requirements. The program is managed in such a way that it requires many levels of review and appeals. Being denied in the first step does not mean you do not qualify.
- Deciding not to appeal. Requesting a disability appeal is overwhelming to many and might not seem worth the time and effort. However, it is your right to receive these benefits, as long as you meet the requirements than winning the appeal is likely and worth pursuing.
- Neglecting the appeals cut-off date and having to start all over. It is important once denied, not to go back and reapply, but apply for an appeal. Despite its lengthy process, it provides a better opportunity to give further information with your claim for your benefits.
- Not providing adequate information. This happens most often. Usually it's as simple as not providing enough details on the doctors or the impact the condition has on the job performance. This is when a third-party representative can be valuable.
- Trying to correct an error on the first application and reapplying. Once your application is turned in, all your information will stay on your record, as well as the denial decision. Filing the appeal will give you the chance to add detail to what they already have.
- Withholding updated information from the state Disability Determination Services. They are ultimately in charge of the disability determination process. Throughout the appeal process, continuously updating information on all doctor and hospital visits as well as all medical tests is essential.
- Not keeping good records. Maintain duplicates of all information including applications, forms and all records. Also keep at running log of all correspondence (letters, emails, failed attempts, etc.) By staying organized in this way you are prepared at a minutes notice should a disability examiner ask any questions or needs one of these items.
- Underestimate the severity of your disability. Many forget the numerous changes they have had to make to their daily lives just to manage their disability. They tend to overlook something that may have happened to them or worsened, during the course of the appeal stage.
- Not being represented especially after the denial. It is reported that more than three out of four claimants whose cases have made the hearing level need someone to represent them. Lawyers are available from the first application through the appeals.
- Choosing to not be represented because of not having the money. Lawyers are available at discounted rates and for free. (See Financial Resources) Even if a representative comes with a fee, it only applies if the claimant receives their benefits. The longer you wait to get a representative the it becomes more likely that the fees increase. Having a representative earlier on increases the chances of not only getting awarded your benefits but also much sooner.
Recognizing that help is available makes a daunting process much less intimidating. There are many disability experts who know how to navigate there way through the many layers of the disability appeal process. They can ensure the best possible outcome and decrease the stress of it all.
New Graduate School for Global Inclusion and Social Development of Persons with Disabilities - UMass