By Attorney Kristen Brauchle
Special to THELAW.TV
There are more than two million applications submitted for Social Security disability benefits every year, and only about 30 percent are approved the first time. Social Security attorneys know that this is largely due to problems with the application, including:
- Not understanding SSDI requirements
- Not providing proper evidence
- Not having the necessary information
Before submitting an application, you can increase your chances of approval by asking yourself these questions:
1. Am I considered disabled? A person may be eligible for disability benefits if they have a medical, psychological, or psychiatric impairment that prevents them from being able to perform substantial work. In general, substantial means you are able to work and earn above a certain amount, which will vary depending on your circumstances. Your disability must be expected to last, or have already lasted, for 12 months. There are a wide range of conditions that may meet this criteria, but having a condition that qualifies isn't the only criteria you'll need to meet.
2. Do I have the right medical evidence? One of the biggest factors in your application will be proving your disability. You'll need copies of all your medical records, which should include documentation of your disability and explanations of why it leaves you unable to work. It is highly advisable to include a statement from your doctor concerning your inability to work.
3. Have you sought treatment? Seeking medical treatment for your disabling condition, and following all the treatment recommended by your doctor, is key. The Social Security Administration is less likely to approve your claim if you have not pursued treatment prior to seeking disability benefits.
4. Do I have the required amount of work credits? When you work and pay into Social Security, you accrue credits. The number of credits required to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits varies by age and work history. Consulting a Social Security attorney can help you understand the credit requirements more specifically for your case. If you do not qualify based on credits, you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits, which is a needs-based program based on income and assets.
5. Do I need to quit working while applying? While there is no law against working while you wait for you application to be reviewed, it's ill-advised. Because you are applying for benefits based on a disability that prevents you from working, it likely will reduce your chances of approval by indicating to the Social Security Administration that you are, in fact, still able to work.
6. Should I consult a Social Security attorney? No attorney is required to apply for SSDI benefits. However, an attorney's help can help make sure your application is filled out correctly with the proper documentation. This will vastly increase your chances of approval upon initial application. Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a long, complex process. It should begin as soon as possible after a doctor has determined that your disability will last for the necessary 12 months. Getting an experienced legal advisor at the beginning of the process is highly advisable.
The author, Kristen Brauchle, is a Houston, Texas Social Security disability attorney at the Brauchle Law Firm in Houston, Texas.