Navigating through the complicated web of your disability application requirements may seem like a daunting task – and rightfully so.
Claims for the social security disability insurance benefits have skyrocketed over the last two decades, due to the exponential increase in the eligible number of people aged over 50 years of age. SSDI application reached over 3.6 million in 2019 pre-COVID, an increase from 2.3 million average annual applications in the last decade. However, the rate of claimants who actually receive the benefits remains low. On average, only 36% of the SSDI claimants actually receive the benefits in the 'first-round' of application process, proceeded by 2% in local ALJ disability appeals and 1% in Federal Court appeals.
Striking It Right The First Time
Although disability claimants are people with conditions/impairments which prevent them from taking their previous/full time jobs, going through the complicated process of SSDI applications seems like a job in itself – which of course is ironic, since disability benefits are actually for people who can't work. So, getting your evidence/documentation wrong could cost you lost time (upto 12 months) and money if your SSDI application gets denied in the end. Which is why we have composed this article for you to get your disability application right the first time.
Steps Needed To Prepare Your Disability Application/Interview Appeal
In order to improve your chances of getting approved for disability benefits, you must make sure to gather all the necessary evidence possible for your application. The medical and non-medical records are crucial to expedite your evidence so you may receive your benefits as soon as possible.
After you file for your disability, you would be assigned a disability examiner by the Social Security Administration to analyze whether you are 'disabled enough' to qualify for the benefits. Your DE would want to see if and what medical care/treatment you have sought and whether or not it improved your impairment/condition. A fun fact to consider here is, according to New York Times, 23 percent of social security denials in the initial process were due to your condition being 'not severe enough' to qualify for disability (analyzed by the DE), and another 31 percent due to the claimant considered as able to carry out other types of 'substantial gainful activity (work)'.
Also, in addition to gathering all the necessary medical documentation, it is pertinent that you get your doctor/physician to fill out the 'Residual Functional Capacity' form. The RFC form lists out all the limitations that your disability condition might have on your work capacity.
In addition, ruling out other possible work that people with your disability may carry out but you can't would require a formal statement by your doctor/physician or a vocational expert (VE). A VE is experience about the market situations, job demands, skills required to fill certain jobs, limitations of certain conditions/impairments, etc and hence can testify to your condition being severe enough to prevent you from working.
No matter what your condition, it is imperative you make sure that your doctor is supportive of your disability and fills out the RFC form as honestly and carefully as possible. Although your doctor, physician, caretaker, etc may not be much thoughtful about the impact of the RFC form on your SSDI application, it is your job to make them understand it as smoothly as possible. If you're represented by a disability attorney, you can take their help to work with your doctor/physician to fill out the RFC form for you.
Common Documents Needed to Apply for Disability
Other than the above mentioned steps, there are some common documents that you need to file in carefully in your SSDI application. Although it seems simple at first glance, withholding information such as passive income sources, medical treatments, private insurance, etc or providing false information in these forms will cancel your benefits right away. Hence, it is important to ensure that you fill in this information as vigilantly as possible. Some of these documents are as follows:
- - Proof of US nationality or of alien status legalized (if not born in the US)
- - Birth certificate
- - W2 forms for tax returns, or self-employment tax returns (of self-employed) of previous year from your application
- - An adult disability report which states clearly your illness history, work history, injuries and conditions
- - US military discharge papers if you are a veteran
Other than that, it is pertinent to keep your non-medical documents updated.You can refer to this checklist by the SSA for your disability application. Once you file in your application for disability claims, you'll receive more forms to be filled in your mail. Make sure you keep an eye on the mail and have your documents ready so you may avoid seeming waylaid to your disability examiner.
Lastly, withholding critical information such as receiving employment benefits without informing the SSA may seriously jeopardize your case. Hence, it is important to have a disability attorney to guide you through the whole process starting from filing your information correctly, and the do's and dont's of your disability application or interview.
If you need legal help regarding your SSDI documentation, you may contact us at Law Office of Irene Ruzin.