Thinking of applying for SSD or SSI?
While you can certainly apply for Social Security benefits on your own, we strongly recommend talking with an attorney first. Sometimes the timing of an application is key to an ultimate approval.
Here is what else should be considered and expected along the way:
- Talk with your doctors about disability.
An approval from Social Security for SSD or SSI benefits comes from medical evidence of disability. You need to make sure you have conversations with your medical providers about whether they will support your application for disability. Without strong, supportive, and consistent medical evidence, your claim is unlikely to be approved.
- File your application.
An application for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can be filed online from the comfort of your home. You can also contact your local Social Security office and set up an appointment to complete the application over the phone. The application is long and at times, tedious. You will need to have all information regarding your personal life (including your spouse, ex-spouse and/or minor children), doctors, medications, and work history.
Applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can only be done in person or over the phone. The application is more extensive as it requires detailed earnings, asset and income information. As such, it cannot be done online.
- Expect a denial.
This may sound harsh but it is the reality of the system. Generally, more than 2/3 of all initial applications result in a denial. The denials may be technical or medical based. Social Security says an applicant can be denied if he or she:
-has an impairment that is not expected to last 12 months,
-has an impairment that is not considered severe (according to their rules),
-is able to perform his or her usual type of work,
-is able to perform another type of work, or
-has an impairment resulting from drug or alcohol addiction, provides insufficient medical evidence, fails to cooperate, or returns to substantial work.
- If denied, plan to wait a very long time for your hearing.
Another harsh truth associated with Social Security is the extremely long wait time for a hearing. Currently, the Social Security Administration is scheduling out hearings about 2 years from the appeal/hearing request. An attorney cannot bypass this wait time, but can adequately prepare in the interim. It is important to keep up with your medical treatment and communication with your medical providers during this wait time.
- Continue to see your doctors.
It is important that you have consistent and current medical evidence in your file when your case is finally up for a hearing. Make sure you follow up with your doctors regularly and have them comment on your disability in their notes every time.
Again, the Social Security process is a long one but the hearing office will only give you about 2 to 3 months’ notice in scheduling your hearing. This is not enough time for an attorney to ensure all medical evidence is in place and to properly prepare for a hearing. We encourage you to contact Zea Proukou before you even file your application to situate you for the best chance of approval.