Expect to be denied. Initial applications are denied over 50-60% of the time
SSA does not present or explain the Over Age 50 – Special Rules. These rules consider age, education, previous occupational skills and your physical capacity. SSA can apply special rules to award benefits when an individual is over age 50.
Social Security frequently loses and misfiles disability claim records. If you are filing the claim on your own, be sure to keep copies of everything being submitted. If you have a professional representative, they will handle this on your behalf.
SSA arbitrary time limits result in denials. SSA has a responsibility to request all records but their claim processing goals limit the amount of time they will spend on your case. The burden of proof for providing medical and other claim related records is yours.
You are not required to discuss your claim by telephone with anyone from SSA. You can request all communications to be in writing or defer to your professional representative.
A protective filing can preserve your entitlement to past due benefits and provide additional time to develop your claim
Whenever answers are provided by an SSA representative, you are entitled to a report of contact to document the response
Your notes about symptoms including pain and the side effects of medications can be admitted as evidence to support your claim
Medical reporting and functional capacity statements must address the issues important to the SSA disability regulations. Be sure to describe your symptoms and limitations in detail to help your doctor(s) report on your behalf.
Maintain accurate dates of onset for your various problems. These records are also admissible.
Developing a disability claim can be expensive. These costs can be dramatically reduced by using the State Vocational rehabilitation service to provide an evaluation. This evaluation can be used to support your claim.
If you need to rest during the day keep a record as to how long and how often. This record is admissible in supporting your claim.
Your professional representative is allowed to assist you when completing the Disability Report and all disability documentation.
A diary or journal of your activities can be helpful documentation for your claim.
Disability and function statements from friends, family, clergy etc. can be admitted as evidence to support your claim.
You may provide photographs of serious visible problems to support your case.
Record names and dates for key contacts. You can refer to your notes during the administrative law judge hearing.
Answers provided by SSA staff persons are not always reliable or consistent. A Report of Contact from the local SSA office can help when a dispute occurs. Also, ask for the name and phone extension of the person you speak with.
Experienced representation will significantly increase your chances of winning
An award of Social Security Disability benefits can increase your Social Security retirement benefit. Many people feel that by obtaining their disability benefit prior to retirement age they are reducing the available funds in their retirement account. If fact it’s just the opposite. Being awarded Social Security Disability creates a “Disability Freeze”. The disability freeze preserves your wages from the quarters you paid into the system. This eliminates the disability quarters (low or no wages) from being used against you to determine future retirement benefits.
If your claim is denied you have the right to review your file at the local Social Security office.