If you are attempting to file for Social Security Disability benefits, it can be a long, complex, and sometimes frustrating process, especially if you are dealing with troublesome medical and financial issues. It can be difficult to keep track of paperwork, medical records, doctors' appointments, and other information necessary to successfully apply for SSDI. To avoid losing the benefits you are entitled to, be aware of these seven costly mistakes that can ruin your disability claim.
Costly Mistake #1: Setting Up a Bad Medical Record
While you will eventually have the chance to describe your disability to examiners and perhaps an administrative law judge, this may not be enough to prove you are disabled. The foundation of a successful Social Security disability claim is solid supporting medical evidence.
- Treat early and treat often. Do your best to keep all appointments with doctors, therapists, and counselors. The number one thing you can do to strengthen your claim is to get regular medical care.
- Follow reasonably prescribed treatment. Social security law can prevent you from recovering benefits if you fail to follow the treatment recommended by your doctors.
- Keep a journal and explain your pain and limitations in detail. Keep a personal log of complaints, pain, and other events associated with your disability. One of the best ways to make your personal experience of impairment a credible part of the medical record is to document your limitations and give them to your doctor to include in medical notes.
- Consult specialists. A specialist's opinion regarding your particular condition may be helpful to a judge evaluating your claim.
Costly Mistake #2: Waiting Too Long to Apply
Once you have determined you may be unable to work for a year or more, you should file for benefits immediately. You could risk losing benefits to which you are legally entitled by waiting longer than necessary to apply.
Costly Mistake #3: Waiting Too Long (or Failing) to Appeal
If you have already applied and been denied for Social Security disability benefits, you should have received a denial letter. You have 60 days from the date of the letter to appeal your claim. If you fail to file an appeal on time, you may have to start the application process all over again. You may also permanently lose the right to back benefits.
Costly Mistake #4: Using Illegal Drugs and/or Abusing Alcohol
Social Security laws can prevent you from receiving disability benefits if your alcohol or drug abuse is a major factor causing your disability. Drug and/or alcohol abuse tends to harm your credibility as a witness and can make the disability determination process very difficult. Drug addiction and alcoholism are not considered disabilities that may be compensated with SSDI benefits
Costly Mistake #5: Failing to Cooperate with Social Security
If you fail to complete the necessary paperwork, avoid evaluation appointments, or ignore calls or letters from the SSA, your application may be denied due to your own lack of cooperation or because you did not supply enough information to file your claim properly.
Costly Mistake #6: Making Inconsistent Statements
Inconsistencies in your statements can cause an administrative law judge to lose faith in the credibility of your claim, leading to a denial. Be open and honest; the best way to be consistent is to always tell the truth.
Costly Mistake #7: Representing Yourself
Very few people who represent themselves in a social security disability claim win their case. The likelihood of you winning your case is certainly smaller without the aid of an attorney. An experienced SSDI lawyer can ensure all your paperwork is filed correctly, look for ways to expedite your hearing office decision, and represent you at a hearing before a judge.
If you are worried about making these mistakes, you can contact a lawyer who can provide useful information about the disability claims process and help you understand if you have a valid claim. Contact the knowledgeable SSD legal team at George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers to get the help you need.