When you cannot work due to a disability, it is essential that you file a successful claim for Social Security disability benefits. However, only about 28 percent of claims result in an initial award without an appeal, and fewer than half of claims result in an award following an appeal. The reality is that filing a successful SSDI application is a complicated process, though it can be much easier with the help of the right disability benefits attorney.
Preparing Your Claim
To qualify for SSDI benefits, not only do you have to file a complete and accurate application, but you also must submit all of the necessary paperwork and records to support your claim that you are disabled and cannot work. If you do not submit all the information needed, your claim can be denied right out of the gate, which can delay when you begin receiving your benefits.
The application involves a significant amount of information, such as:
- Your work history
- Your ability (or lack thereof) to continue working
- Your daily activities
- Your medical records showing the diagnosis for the condition causing your disability
You also must submit records that indicate your disability is expected to last for 12 months or longer. Depending on the nature of your disability, you might need to submit additional documentation to prove that your condition qualifies as a disability for benefit purposes. You also might need to undergo additional medical examinations depending on the situation. An attorney can help you respond to requests by the examiner to maximize your chances of your claim being granted.
In addition, once your claim is approved, an attorney will be able to assess the amount of back benefits you deserve. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has been known to make errors when calculating back benefits, which can deprive you of substantial benefits that you deserve. A lawyer can present evidence of the back benefits you should receive by proving your date of disability and providing other necessary information.
The Importance of Obtaining an Initial Award
In many cases, it takes about three to six months for the SSA to make a determination regarding your initial claim. (It can be a significantly shorter period of time if you qualify for the Social Security Compassionate Allowance program.) If your claim happens to be denied – for whatever reason – you will then need to go through the appeals process, which can take up to a year or longer. Getting an initial award is essential to prevent extensive delays in your benefits.
In the event that you receive a denial letter from the SSA, you only have a limited time to file an appeal, which is generally 60 days from the date of your denial letter. It is critical to contact a disability attorney at this stage if you have not already done so. If your initial application was denied, it is a sign that you need professional legal assistance with the process, and you should not wait to seek legal help.