After an injury or illness, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can provide you with the financial support you need while you recover.
If you meet the qualifications to be considered disabled and cannot work, you apply for SSD benefits. To meet the definition of disabled, you must have a physical or mental condition that is expected to last for at least a year or eventually end in death.
Additionally, you must show that your disability prevents you from working. The exact term used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) is “substantial gainful activity.” If your injury or illness prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity, you may be considered disabled.
While these are the general requirements to qualify you for SSD benefits, there are many other factors that could affect your SSD application.
Insufficient medical records
When you apply for your benefits, you must provide proof of your disability. This is typically done through medical records.
It is important to submit thorough medical records related to your disability, and make sure that they are both current and detailed. Outdated records, records unrelated to your disability or records that only vaguely mention your disability could result in a denied application.
The medical records should also be free from gaps in treatment. It is difficult to determine if you meet the definition of disabled if you are not receiving consistent treatment due to sporadic medical visits.
Failure to follow medical advice
Your medical records likely contain advice or information about the next steps that you are required to follow or treatment options.
You must show that you are taking your doctor’s advice, following directions and engaging in all required or recommended options to treat your disability.
Evidence showing that you are not following your doctor’s advice will negatively impact your application.
Failure to respond and cooperate
Finally, you must cooperate with any requests. Far too many SSD applications are denied simply because applicants do not respond to requests.
It is relatively common for the SSA to contact you because they need additional information or documents from you to make their decision. You might need to provide information on your income, tax or work history.
Do not ignore calls, letters or emails from them, thinking that it is not important or assuming they are contacting you because you have been denied.
Not asking questions
Always answer their requests promptly and provide whatever they ask for as quickly as you can. If you are unsure of what they need, ask them to clearly tell you exactly what they are asking for.
Your application could be denied because you submitted the wrong piece of documentation thinking it was the one they asked for. They may not always make their requests clear, so it is important to speak up.
If your SSD application is denied, you can always appeal. However, the appeal process can take time.
Not having help along the way
This is why it is vital to make sure that your initial application contains all necessary information and documentation and that you stay in contact with the SSA when they are processing your application.
Working with an experienced disability attorney when doing your application can increase your chance of obtaining benefits. An attorney can answer your questions and help you gather the correct documentation.