It isn’t unusual for people to feel intimidated when filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The process is complicated, the rules about what it takes to be disabled can be hard to understand, the agency is understaffed and there’s a ton of misinformation out there.
However, there are some simple things that you can do to help your SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claim succeed. These are the sort of things that often get overlooked — but they can actually make or break your case! They include:
- Fill out all your forms as completely as possible. If you aren’t sure how to complete them, an attorney can often assist you with this process.
- Respond to letters promptly. Each letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) or Disability Determination Services (DDS) has a deadline for a response. If you don’t observe that deadline, your claim could be over. At the very minimum, you may have to start the process all over again.
- Keep your phone number current. Disability examiners who work for the state agency that makes the disability determinations and claims representatives working for the SSA may try to contact you for more information. If they cannot, your claim may be denied.
- Don’t overlook your pain. Many disabling conditions cause people physical pain — and pain is very limiting. However, the SSA is only required to consider how your pain affects you if you list it as one of your disabling conditions.
- Give your attorney a secondary contact. Just in case you can’t be reached directly, give your attorney permission to contact a friend or relative, if possible. That way, you never risk missing an important communication.
Given that it takes months to get through a reconsideration and a year or longer to get a hearing with an administrative law judge, the last thing you want to do is let your claim get denied because of something simple and preventable. For more information on what you can do to improve your chances of a successful disability claim, please visit our webpages on the topic.