7 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for Social Security Disability
If a physical or mental impairment has left you unable to work, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may be available to you. These are monthly cash payments that can help you to handle your day-to-day living expenses.
If you are unsure of how to apply for these benefits, or if your application was denied, Hardison & Cochran is available to help you. We have a history of helping disabled persons and their families throughout North Carolina with getting the SSD benefits they deserve.
Contact us today. We won’t charge to review your case. We can go to work for you right away.
You can also help yourself by avoiding the following costly mistakes. To learn more about these errors and how to avoid them, please order our free Social Security Disability Claims guide.
#1 Setting Up a Bad Medical Record
To be eligible for SSD benefits, you must show that you are “disabled” as defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This means you must prove that you suffer from a medical condition (physical or mental) that prevents you from working and is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
You will need to develop a solid medical record. You can do this by:
- Going to your doctor as soon as you are hurt or become ill
- Explaining your pain and limitations in detail to your doctor (be as specific as possible and make sure these details are included in your medical notes)
- Following all reasonably prescribed treatment
- Keeping a personal pain journal
- Consulting specialists (if recommended by your primary care physician).
#2 Waiting Too Long to Apply for SSD Benefits
Once you know that you can’t work because of your condition, apply for SSD benefits immediately. If you have questions about your application, ask a SSA representative or contact Hardison & Cochran.
If you wait too long to apply for SSD benefits, you can lose your right to collect retroactive benefits. These benefits are available for only the 12-month period before you submitted your application. You should know that it takes about 3-5 months to process your application.
#3 Waiting Too Long to Appeal
After you apply for SSD benefits, you will receive a letter either approving or denying your claim. If your claim has been denied, you will have 60 days from the date on that letter to file a Request for Reconsideration.
Reconsideration is the first in many levels of appeal. The next levels are a hearing before an administrative law judge, consideration by the SSA’s Appeals Council and, finally, filing a legal claim in your nearest U.S. District Court in North Carolina. At each level, you will have 60 days from the date of your denial to file an appeal.
If you miss the deadline, you could be forced to start your application from scratch. However, in some cases, you may be able to file for an extension of time. Your attorney can review all options available to you and take steps to expedite your appeal as much as possible.
#4 Using Illegal Drugs, Alcohol or Tobacco
If your use of illegal drugs, alcohol or tobacco has served as a major factor in causing your disability, your claim for disability benefits could be denied. At the least, it will harm your credibility. Think of your health and your future. If needed, seek counseling to help you stop.
# 5 Filing for Unemployment Benefits
If you file for unemployment benefits, you are representing that you are physically and mentally capable of working. This is a direct contradiction of what you are telling the SSA. In other words, you can’t file for unemployment benefits and disability benefits at the same time.
However, if your disability arose from your work, you can apply for workers’ compensation benefits as well as SSD benefits. Hardison & Cochran can help you with this process.
#6 Making Inconsistent Statements
You need to be clear and consistent whenever you make a recorded statement about your physical or mental condition. It will undermine your credibility if you are inconsistent when you speak with your doctor, employer, SSA representatives or an administrative law judge.
#7 Representing Yourself
You do not have to be represented by an attorney when you seek SSD benefits. However, we would not suggest going alone. You will benefit from the legal education, training, skills and experience that a lawyer can bring to your case. For instance, an attorney can:
- Make sure your claim has accurate, complete and up-to-date medical documentation
- Navigate your case through complex SSA rules and regulations
- Expedite a decision in your case whenever possible
- Seek the full amount of benefits you deserve.
If you would like to learn more about what a lawyer from Hardison & Cochran can do for you in your SSD case, contact us right away. Our case reviews are always free.