If you find yourself dealing with a long-term disability, one of the first places you should turn is the Social Security disability program. The benefits are essential for those who need them, but this highly complicated federal system can be difficult to navigate. There are things you can do to improve your chances of successfully establishing a disability claim with the Social Security Administration (SSA), and I hope to cover those in this and upcoming articles.
First, it's essential to understand SSA's eligibility requirements. Social Security does not allow for partial disability benefits-you are either disabled or not. You also must meet certain technical requirements regarding your work history and payment of Social Security taxes. You must prove that you are unable to perform any of the work you have done in the 15 years before you became disabled, and you must prove that you are unable to sustain the physical or mental demands of other jobs.
You must also have medical evidence and opinions about the symptoms and limitations caused by your condition, specifically how it affects your ability to work. The SSA will have its own doctors assess you, and to prove your disability claim, you must also present evidence, preferably from your treating doctors, concerning those limitations. You are strongly encouraged to enlist the services of an attorney who specializes in disability law. They have "been there/done that" time and time again and are in the best position to prove your case.
Beyond proving your disability, there are other factors that may affect the likelihood of approval of your claim and your long-term financial well-being. With 30 years of legal experience, I have learned that there are ways to improve your chances of winning a disability claim.
One key factor is your doctorís determination that you are in fact disabled and unable to work. If your claim is denied, itís because the SSD-assigned government doctors determined your medical conditions were not disabling. Under SSD law, the opinion of a treating doctor is given greater weight than those of government doctors. Therefore, itís essential that your doctor supports your claim and makes an accurate assessment of your limitations.
Second, itís important to continue seeking medical attention. Many disability claimants have difficulty affording continued medical care due to lost insurance or income. Nonetheless, you should seek the opinion of your treating physician, and provide a current record of treatment to prove your symptoms and limitations. You may also want to talk to your doctor about whether you should be evaluated by a specialist.
Itís also important to follow your doctorís orders, as a failure to continue treatment can negatively affect the outcome of a disability claim. Likewise, be open and honest with all parties Ė including your doctor and the SSA. Inconsistent records will cause issues when it comes to getting your claim approved.
In addition to these issues, there are other factors that affect the likelihood of being approved. We will cover those further in upcoming articles. After practicing in disability law for nearly 30 years, Iíve learned a great deal about the intricacies of this system and hope to share those with you to simplify the process and to get the help you need, hopefully. Check out www.robertsonwendt.com for more insight.