We have provided this information to assist those who have applied for (or are about to apply for) Social Security or SSI disability benefits. Navigating the complex and confusing Social Security disability system is difficult and frustrating. These tips contain the most important information we give our clients about how to be successful in their disability case. Most Social Security disability cases need to go to the hearing level for benefits to be awarded. Following the advice in this brochure, however, will improve your chances for success at every step of the process and make a favorable decision more likely. For specific advice about your own case (or that of a friend or relative), please call our office at: 215-886-0398 or at: http://www.disabilitylawpa.com
TIP #1. Social Security administers two disability benefits programs: disability insurance and SSI. Persons who have worked and paid taxes apply for disability insurance benefits. Those who have not worked enough, persons receiving welfare benefits or children under 18 apply for SSI benefits. Persons who have physical and/or mental impairments which prevent them from performing in any type of work for at least 12 months are eligible for these benefits. You do not have to wait any length of time to apply. You should file your application for disability benefits (or applications if applying for more than one disability benefit program) as soon as you think you may be eligible. This is because the disability application and review process can take along time. The Social Security Administration disability application process can be started by calling Social Security’s toll free telephone number: 1-800-772-1213 or through Social Security’s website: www.ssa.gov.
TIP #2. When you complete your disability application be sure to mention all of your health problems, not just the one that is most severe. This is because in evaluating your case Social Security will look at all of your health problems together. Be honest about the severity of your symptoms. Also be sure to include in your application the names, addresses and phone numbers of all of the doctors and hospitals where you have been treated. When asked about your daily activities, be sure to describe them the way you are able to perform them on your “bad” days, not the way you performed them before your medical problems began. The key point is to make your disability application comprehensive and detailed.
TIP #3. Unfavorable decisions are very common early in the application process. If you receive an unfavorable decision from Social Security, file an appeal as soon as possible. This must be done within 60 days of the date on the denial letter. You can appeal through Social Security’a website or by calling them. Always file a timely appeal. The key point is not to become discouraged. Have faith. If your claim is denied at any step of the process, discuss your case with an attorney experienced in helping people qualify for disability benefits.
TIP #4. It is important to document your medical conditions if your case is to be successful. This means obtaining good medical care for each of your medical problems. Social Security pays a great deal of attention to your doctors’ treatment records. To improve your chances for success you need to see your doctor regularly and report all of your symptoms at each visit. Ask your doctors to record your symptoms in your treatment records on each visit. Treatment by medical specialists will also help your disability case and you should not hesitate to see a specialist if one is recommended for you. If you have an orthopedic condition, MRI and EMG test results are very important and you should not hesitate to have these tests performed.
TIP #5. Social Security law requires that all of your medical conditions be considered in determining your ability to work. Many, if not most people who are out of work and in pain will develop symptoms of depression, anxiety or both. If you have had or develop such symptoms (or other mental health problems) do not hesitate to obtain regular treatment for those symptoms. Treatment for these symptoms can make the difference between winning and losing. It never hurts your disability case to have treatment for mental health symptoms such as depression or anxiety. Social Security will only consider symptoms of anxiety or depression, however, if you are receiving treatment for them. Ask your doctor for a referral for this type of treatment or contact your local mental health center.
TIP #6. Your doctors play an important role in supporting your application for Social Security or SSI disability benefits. Be sure to tell your doctors that you are applying for disability benefits and ask them to promptly respond to requests for information about your medical condition from the Social Security Administration or your attorney. Each time you meet with your doctor be sure to carefully describe all of your symptoms, especially pain, and ask your doctor to carefully record those symptoms in your treatment records.
TIP #7. If your application for Social Security or SSI disability benefits is denied at any step of the process, engage an attorney who knows Social Security disability law to represent you in the appeal process. I have practiced law for over 25 years and limit my law practice to helping individuals qualify for Social Security and SSI disability benefits. We handle each case personally and really listen to and care about each of our clients. There’s never a fee unless your case is successful and all fees are regulated by Social Security. For specific advice about your own case (or that of a friend or relative), please call our law office at 215-886-0398 or e-mail us at: [email protected]
Our law firm focuses exclusively on Social Security disability law. To learn more about the SSDI and SSI programs and how we can improve your chance for success, contact the Jenkintown and Philadelphia Social Security Disability attorneys of the Disability and Injury Law Offices of David R. Machek for a free consultation at: 215-886-0398 or at: http://www.disabilitylawpa.com