THE KEY TIP
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Key Facts about Disability under Social Security Law
There are Two Types of Disability Benefits from Social Security
Stage 1: The First Step
You can apply by calling the Social Security Administration’s toll-free number at 800.772.1213, or visit their Web site at http://www.ssa.gov/. Download the required forms from the Web site or request they be mailed to you. When you fill out and return the forms, you must also mail a copy of your birth certificate. If your claim is denied, file a request for reconsideration. There is a 60-day deadline to file this request. Do not file a new application.
Tip 1: Talk to your doctors: SSDI and SSI typically request your medical records from your doctors. Have your doctor write a letter explaining medically why you are disabled, and what symptoms and limitations you are experiencing. Frequently, ordinary medical records do not indicate your limitations, because a doctor’s goal is to diagnose and treat your condition.
Tip 2: The application: When filling out the form, it is important that you list any children you have who are under the age of 18 and that you allege the correct “onset date” of your disability. (This is usually the last day you actually worked, unless you left the job for other reasons and became disabled later. It is not necessarily the date you were officially terminated). The “onset date” may be before the last day you actually worked if you worked less than 90 days or earned little money.
Tip 3: The disability report: When filling out the disability report, it is important to list all of the doctors and hospitals you have visited for your treatments. Social Security must acquire all of your medical records, and you must provide the information for obtaining the records (indicate from where your records should be requested).
Tip 4: Work history report: Errors are frequently made when filling out the work history report. This is not a resume! Do not attempt to make yourself look like you have tremendous accomplishments (as you would on your resume). You must be accurate about tasks performed, dates of employment and maximum physical requirements of the job. Don’t report that you were a supervisor or manager if you were not.
In order to determine whether you are disabled, Social Security must determine whether you can perform “past relevant work.” This is defined as all work lasting at least three months and long enough to learn the job within the last 15 years. If you fail to list the maximum physical requirements of the job, Social Security may determine that the job was easier than it actually was.
A determination will also be made as to whether there is any work you can perform. If you report that your job required high skills when it did not, Social Security may mistakenly determine that you have skills that can be utilized in other work.
Tip 5: Function Report: When completing the function report, it is important to be both accurate and complete. You will be asked how you spend your day and the tasks you are able to perform. Social Security must determine what kind of limitations you have. Usually, it is a determination as to whether you can work full-time. It is important that you list any difficulties you have while doing everyday tasks, and also how much rest you require.
Tip 6: Select your attorney carefully: If you are unsuccessful at the administrative law judge hearing, it may be years before you have the opportunity to have your case heard on appeal. If you did not have representation by an attorney experienced in Social Security Disability law, you are at a disadvantage. Ward Harper obtains the medical evidence, corresponds with doctors, and meets with you to review your case prior to your hearing. Preparation is the key to making a successful presentation to the judge.
Stage 2: Reconsideration
You will be required to fill out two forms:
Stage 3: Requesting a HearingThe hearing request form (SSA-501) is similar to the reconsideration request. The disability report-appeal form is the same. If you have not contacted an experienced lawyer regarding your case, do so at this point. It takes time to prepare a case in order to make the best possible presentation to the judge.
Every legal matter is different. The outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case. An attorney's success in past legal matters should not be relied upon to predict a successful outcome in your own case.