Tips for Applying for Disability Benefits

Do you have questions about how to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits? At the Disability and Injury Law Offices of David R. Machek, Esq., we provide comprehensive advice and legal representation to individuals seeking to qualify for Social Security disability. The following are some general tips for people applying for SSD and SSI benefits. While this list is helpful, it cannot replace a lawyer's specific advice in your case. Please contact our firm (215) 886-0398 to arrange your free consultation and learn how we can help.

DO: Apply as soon as you know you will be out of work (or meet the disability definition) for at least a year.
DON'T: Assume you will not be eligible. Call us and obtain specific advice about benefits you may be eligible for.

DO: Seek legal advice early in the process.
DON'T: Assume the information from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is reliable. Often it is not.

DO: Keep a record of all the doctors and hospitals that have treated you.
DON'T: Assume the SSA will obtain all your treatment records. In almost all cases you'll need a lawyer to make sure Social Security obtains all of your medical records.

DO: Tell your doctors you are applying for disability benefits. Ask if they will support your claim.
DON'T: Assume your doctors will support your disability application. Be totally honest with your doctors about the severity of your symptoms.

DO: Report all your medical problems on your application and not just your primary medical problem.
DON'T: Assume your diagnosis alone will result in a favorable decision.

DO: Report all of your symptoms each and every medical visit. Don't forget to report poor sleep, fatigue, napping and prescription side effects, in addition to obvious symptoms such as pain and depression.
DON'T: Assume that your doctor knows how you feel or is recording your symptoms. Ask your doctor to accurately record your symptoms and functional limitations.

DO: Inform your doctor about all of your symptoms and functional limitations.
DON'T: Be in denial about your symptoms. If you are not completely open with your doctor about your problems, it will be more difficult to qualify for SSD or SSI benefits.

DO: Tell your doctor about functional limitations (sitting, standing, walking, cooking, cleaning, driving, etc.) and ask that they be included in your treatment records.
DON'T: Assume that your doctor knows your limitations. Tell him or her about your limitations.

DO: Report and get treatment for symptoms of depression or anxiety. Treatment for these will strengthen your case.
DON'T: Assume that depression and anxiety are "normal" and do not need treatment. Get treatment. It will strengthen your case.

DO: Keep a journal of your symptoms on your worst days. Record how you feel and what you could not do. Take your journal to each doctor's visit.
DON'T: Assume you will remember your worst days later. You may not, and your doctor needs to know and record those problems in your treatment records. Keep a journal and take it to your medical appointments.

DO: Ask your doctors to keep good records of your symptoms and functional limitations. You can keep track of this in your symptom journal.
DON'T: Assume your doctors will keep good records. Your doctor's treatment records are the most important part of any disability case. What you tell your doctors about your symptoms and functional limitations will strengthen your case.

DO: Follow through with any testing recommended by your doctor.
DON'T: Refuse testing, it may mean evidence to support your claim is not available.

DO: Take your medications as prescribed. Do report any side effects of medication to your doctor.
DON'T: Refuse to take medication without a good reason.

DO: See other specialists you are referred to by your doctor.
DON'T: Avoid seeing specialists your doctor asks you to see. SSA expects you to comply with your doctor's referrals.

DO: Fill out your application and your state's Daily Activities Questionnaire with care and in detail.
DON'T: Underestimate the importance of these important documents.

DO: Get legal advice early in the process.
DON'T: Assume you will be able to be successful on your own.

DO: Contact an attorney if you are denied at any stage of the process. File a timely appeal immediately, even before you contact an attorney.
DON'T: Give up if your claim is denied. Appeals are usually successful if the evidence is properly developed.

Do you have questions about how to qualify for SSD and SSI benefits? For more information or to schedule an initial consultation and case evaluation with a trusted SSD and SSI lawyer serving Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the surrounding region, please contact us online or call (215) 886-0398 to arrange a free initial consultation with our lawyer about SSD/SSI eligibility. Let us help you get the financial assistance you need and deserve.