Applying for Social Security benefits can certainly be a challenge, as our Rogers disability lawyer is fully aware. The process, including appealing denials, can be stressful and even intimidating for those who have never been through it. Strict compliance with the intricate rules for the application process and for eligibility itself is required. Properly completing the necessary forms can be overwhelming and confusing. However, completing them properly will most often improve the likelihood of being approved the first time. The Social Security Administration will make an initial determination based solely on the information you provide in your application. You may be thinking, how can I make my disability claim successful? Here are some things to consider.
Mistakes to Avoid With Your Social Security Disability Claim
Statistically speaking, the majority of social security disability claims are denied when first submitted. In fact, nearly 65% of all claims are denied initially and close to 85% are denied again on appeal. Clearly, knowing some of the common mistakes that result in denial would be beneficial. One important step you can take toward filing a successful disability claim is consulting with a Rogers disability lawyer before filing your initial claim.
Who Decides Whether I Am Disabled?
When you submit your disability application, your file is turned over to a designated state office that actually reviews your medical records and any other documentation you submit along with it. In Arkansas, this office is called Arkansas’s Disability Determination for Social Security Administration. In Missouri, it is known as Missouri Disability Determination Services. These state agencies determine medical eligibility for Social Security disability for their residents. However, the process has been standardized throughout the country.
What Needs to Be Proven for Disability Benefits?
You are considered disabled “if you cannot do work that you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).” The Social Security Administration expects that your disability will last for at least one year or result in death. However, the Social Security Administration does not actually make the decision.
Be Sure to Check the Status of your Application
Once you have submitted your application for Social Security disability, there is still more to do. It is important that you continue to check the status of your claim regularly. There is always a chance that your paperwork could be misplaced, slip through the cracks so to speak, or the agency may neglect to inform you that your claim has been denied. Without knowing the status of your claim, you could be waiting around for nothing, only to find out later, some action was needed, or your claim had already been denied.
You Should Not Continue Working While your Application is Pending
Just like collecting unemployment benefits, it is better to stop working, since you are claiming your disability prevents you from working. If you don’t quit your job entirely, you should at least cut your hours substantially, in order to not jeopardize your eligibility for disability benefits. Social Security actually determines the amount of work you can do, while still being eligible for benefits. This is known as the SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity). If you earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity limit, your claim will likely be denied. In 2018, the SGA is $1,180 for non-blind disabled applicants and $1,970 for blind applicants.
Collecting Unemployment Can Conflict with Your Disability Award
Most people fail to realize that a request for unemployment benefits raises a serious conflict with a claim for social security disability. When you file for unemployment, you must confirm that you are ready and available for work, but you just can’t find any. However, when you file for Social Security disability, you are stating the opposite, that you are unable to perform substantial work activity for twelve months or more. As you can see, these two statements are mutually exclusive. As such, collecting unemployment benefits is likely to jeopardize your disability application.
If You Need to Appeal, Don’t Miss the Deadline
If you are one of the many applicants who is initially denied, and you plan to file an appeal, make sure you do not miss your deadline. Missing the deadline is always a basis for denying an application or a reconsideration of your application. The deadline for requesting a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) is 60 days from the date your disability claim was last denied.
The denial date is typically stamped on the first page of the denial letter (or notice of denial after a reconsideration). If you do not request a hearing by the deadline, you must start the whole process over from the beginning. The only other option is to demonstrate “good cause” for requesting a hearing after the deadline has passed.
If you have questions regarding the disability claims process or any other Social Security disability matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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