Having spoken with thousands of disability applicants throughout the years, I’ve compiled the following list of the most common errors you can make as an application for Social Security Disability.
- Failing to get regular medical care. Without regular medical care, you can’t substantiate your claim. If there’s no medical evidence of a medical condition, your complaints of pain and limitation have no foundations, and you will get nowhere. If you wish to have your medical condition taken seriously, you need to take it seriously enough, yourself, to be in treatment. Sometimes, this is more easily said than done. Nevertheless, at least going to a free medical clinic is going to be very important.
- Assuming work that was performed informally, without payroll withholding, doesn’t count as work. Some applicants hope to work through the disability process, earning some money to see them through, on an “under-the-table” basis. They think no one will ever find out about this work, and it won’t damage their claim. Actually, you can expect to be asked, under oath, whether you’ve been paid to do any work during the time you claim to have been disabled. Your informal earnings count as work for pay, the same as if you had payroll withholding. It can be very damaging to your claim.
- Understating the exertional demands of the past relevant work. This can be damaging for older individuals, especially those over age 55. The guidelines used to decide cases, known as grid rules, become very liberal for people of advanced age, who performed physically demanding work in the past. However, if you describe the work as having been lighter than it was, a judge may believe that your work was light as performed, and deny a claim that could otherwise have been awarded. When you complete the Work History Report, try hard to remember all of the demands of your job.
- Failing to appeal a claim that has been denied. Many applicants feel defeated when their claims are denied. Though this is understandable, there is a 60-day deadline to file an appeal. If that appeal is missed, you have to start all over. This produces delay. Furthermore, if the denial is considered administratively final, it may be binding, at least through the date of the decision, in any future claim filed. Past claims that have been denied can be reopened only under very limited circumstances.
- Failing to consult an attorney. An attorney can offer candid advice on whether the claim should be pursued at all. Furthermore, an attorney can help file the appeals, make sure the paperwork is completed, obtain opinion evidence from doctors, and make sure all probative evidence gets before the Social Security Administration (SSA). Since attorneys are paid only if they win the claim, there’s very little risk to you when you contact an attorney.
There are many mistakes you can make when applying for disability benefits, so make sure you review everything carefully before submitting your application. Better yet, contact our attorneys for help with your disability claim and a FREE consultation.