Many people are anxious about dealing with paperwork and government institutions. It can be tedious, annoying, and all around difficult. So, if you’re going to apply for SSDI, it’s a great idea to maximize your potential for a successful application straight from the start. How can you do that? Let’s take a look at some important facts you should know before applying for SSDI!
1. 70% of initial Social Security applications are not approved!
That number seems pretty big, doesn’t it? The truth is that there is more than meets the eye to that commonly cited statistic. It’s often used as a selling point by Social Security law firms to help drive home the need for an attorney. And that is to take nothing away from the attorneys out there who are fighting hard for their clients and help them successfully resolve their cases.
But, that 70% figure includes two very large demographics of applicants that never had a chance of being approved in the first place, that should never have applied. The first group are the people who are straight up trying to game the system and get something for nothing. These individuals do not have a disability, they know they don’t have a disability, but they apply and are denied. The second group are the people who provide incomplete applications or information.
People tend to forget that the Social Security Administration is a government agency, where dotting your i’s, crossing your t’s, and signing your paperwork absolutely matters. You can greatly improve your chances for a successful application by following all instructions to the letter, double checking that your paperwork is signed appropriately, and providing the information the Social Security Administration requests, when they request it. Do that and you’ll be ahead of quite a applicants.
2. Claims examiners need to see PROOF that your disability negatively impacts your daily life.
There are some chronic conditions that the Social Security Administration recognizes will not get better. That group of illnesses can be expedited and given an automatic approval so long as the applicant can prove that they have the illness.
However, for many people, a successful application comes down to providing enough evidence that their condition keeps them from engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity. That evidence will include medical records, information from doctors, as well as testimony provided on the application by the applicant and people around them.
One of the biggest mistakes that applicants make is not providing ample information on how their disability affects their personal life. This is especially true with mental health. Mental illness can look very different from person to person. It is in the applicant’s best interest to demonstrate how their mental illness negatively impacts their life through their application.
3. The review and appeals process can take as long as a few years.
The right time to apply for Social Security is as soon as possible, even if you don’t have a great deal of medical paperwork to back up the claim yet. The reason is that the initial application process, while usually completed within 90 days, may not be approved. An applicant is entitled to appeal that decision within 60 days of the rejection.
As the applicant appeals, the information that is generated from doctors appointments and hospitalizations the person has in that time frame is added to the case file, providing more evidence of the claimants disability.
Always appeal rejections within the appropriate time frame. If you do not, then you need to restart the application process.
4. A medical condition does not necessarily have to be severe to qualify for disability benefits.
There is a common myth that a person needs to be severely affected by a medical condition before they can qualify for SSDI. The truth is that the details surrounding the applicant’s medical condition matter more than the severity. Even minor medical conditions can significantly affect a person’s ability to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity. Notable examples include chronic illnesses which do not get better or mental illnesses where the severity may differ from time to time.
Even non-severe mental health issues can affect a person’s functionality and ability to maintain gainful employment.
5. You do not need to be unemployed for 12 months before applying for SSDI.
The misconception that a person needs to have been unemployed for 12 months due to their medical condition before applying for SSDI is not true. The stipulation of approval is that the physical, psychiatric, or psychological impairment must prevent Substantial Gainful Activity of at least 12 months in the recent past, present, or future.
A person may apply for SSDI benefits at any time and it will not work against them. However, if the person is lacking a supportive medical record of being disadvantaged by their condition, then it may be harder to prove their case and need to go through subsequent appeals as more time passes. Regardless, that should not stop anyone from applying for SSDI if they believe that their condition prevents Substantial Gainful Activity.