How To Reduce The Waiting Period For A Social Security Disability Decision

Be Mindful

Unfortunately, no one knows the exact date and time of when the Social Security Administration will make a decision on your Social Security disability claim. However, applicants typically see wait times of 2 months to a year. The application process can extend even more if your case undergoes reconsideration evaluations and appeal hearings. So while there’s nothing that you can do to know the exact time that you’ll wait, there are things you can do to help the SSA make a decision on your claim more quickly.

Provide Sufficient Documentation In Your Claim

The first step you can do is provide substantial medical records and other documentation. Substantial and relevant medical records help the SSA evaluate your disabling condition and how it affects your ability to work. If the SSA finds that your medical documentation is sufficient and accurate, they won’t need to extend the duration of the application process by making requests for additional information regarding your condition. As a result, they can move on quicker which means your decision wait time will be reduced.

Promptly Respond To Any Requests From The SSA

Sometimes you don’t account for every possible piece of information in your disability claim, and while you may not see something as necessary, the SSA may ask you to submit additional information regarding your medical records or other documentation. So if the SSA asks you to send more information about how your disability affects your everyday life or requests you submit a specialist’s evaluation of your condition, then immediately respond and comply so the SSA can get back to reviewing your claim. Preventing setbacks helps the SSA focus on making their decision instead of worrying about missing documentation.

Communicate With The SSA

If you recently moved or bought a new phone, notify the SSA as soon as possible so you can update your contact information. If you don’t immediately update your information, the SSA could potentially send requests or even your claim decision to the wrong address or phone number, and if you’re unable to comply with their requests, they could dismiss your claim.

Go To Your Consultative Exam

It’s common for the SSA to request that you be examined by a physician or psychologist that’s hired by the SSA. This is known as a consultative exam, if you’ve been requested to attend one, do not miss it. If you don’t go the exam, you will directly delay the application process, and the SSA may even dismiss your disability claim completely.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

There’s no shame or harm involved with asking for help on your Social Security disability application or any additional forms for that matter. It’s always recommended that you speak with a professional Social Security disability attorney who can help guide you through the application process, help you gather necessary documents, and strengthen your claim to give you the best chance of being approved for Social Security disability benefits. If your application has glaring errors, your decision could be substantially delayed or even dismissed, so it’s critical that you make sure everything is in order before applying.

This Process Takes Time

Yes, there are steps you can do to help reduce the wait time for your decision, but always remember that the application process is notoriously lengthy and how long it takes for the SSA to decide on your claim ultimately is not up to you to influence. It’s a process that commonly experiences delays; be patient, and eventually, you will be approved for benefits if you really are disabled.

Why You Should See A Specialist Before Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits

One of the best ways to strengthen your Social Security disability application is to work a specialist to diagnose your medical condition. A family physician is a great start, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) naturally considers a diagnosis from a medical specialist to be a more accurate reflection of your medical condition.  If you’re planning on submitting an application for Social Security disability benefits, it’s recommended that you visit a medical specialist beforehand but seeing one during the SSD application process is certainly a great way to add to your disability claim.

Why See a Specialist?

The addition of a diagnosis from a certified specialist shows the SSA that your medical condition is truly genuine and is a critical part of your disability claim; whether your disability prevents you from working or not.  Simply put, the diagnosis from a specialist is considered more credible than the diagnosis from a family physician. This is primarily due to the fact that specialists require substantial experience and medical training, even more than general doctors. The SSA views the reports of a specialist so highly that most professional Social Security disability lawyers will practically force you to contact one immediately before they even consider helping build your disability claim.

Make An Appointment

You can begin obtaining a diagnosis from a specialist by making an appointment with one. Typically, you should speak with your primary physician about scheduling an appointment with a specialist. This is because you can explain to your physician that you’re building a disability claim and wish to be seen by a specialist to strengthen your disability application. Your doctor can easily refer you to a specialist where you can obtain your diagnosis.

You Can Visit More Than One Specialist

While the majority of Social Security disability applicants only struggle with one certain disability, if you are someone who has several disabilities, it’s perfectly acceptable to seek the diagnosis of several specialists to build your disability claim. So if you are applying for SSD benefits mainly because you recently lost your leg in an accident, but you also struggle with severe depression, seeking a psychiatrist in addition to a medical specialist can help build your claim. When the SSA is deciding on whether you are eligible for SSD benefits, they review every and all information you submit to them. The more information, the higher chance of being approved for Social Security disability benefits.

You Can Still Use A Diagnosis From A Specialist For An Appeal

Even those who truly have a disability and require Social Security disability benefits are denied by the SSA in the first round of the application process. If you were recently denied and planned on appealing your disability claim decision, it’s highly recommended you speak with a specialist who will evaluate you and consider you disabled. Several individuals applied for SSD benefits and were denied but didn’t see a specialist before or during the application process. Seeking the diagnosis of a specialist has been shown to increase the likelihood of being approved for SSD benefits even for those who were initially denied.

The takeaway here is that you should seriously consider contacting a specialist for an evaluation of your disability if you wish to have the best chance of being approved for SSD benefits. Fortunately, the majority of professional Social Security disability lawyers require a diagnosis from a specialist before they even consider taking a look at your claim.

Why You Should Routinely Check The Status Of Your Social Security Disability Claim

It’s not uncommon for mistakes to happen during the Social Security disability application process. Whether they’re committed by yourself or by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you should still routinely look at your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Income (SSI) claim in case the SSA updates the status of your case.

It’s recommended that you routinely check the status of your Social Security disability claim so that you can stay up to date without waiting for the SSA to notify you of any changes. Also, if the SSA loses your paperwork, even if it is temporary, they could potentially be unable to contact you promptly. Even worse, mail could be sent to the wrong address, and you risk losing all the progress you’ve made in your disability claim since the SSA may reject your application because they didn’t receive a required response from you. So not only will routinely checking up on your disability claim allow you to know what’s going on during the application process, but you may also notice a way you could speed up the process entirely.

How To Check Your Claim

As of today, there are two primary methods for looking at the status of your disability claim:

If you decide that you want to look at the status of your disability claim online, the SSA requires an account for their my Social Security, the SSA’s online account network. To make an account you’ll have to be at least 18 years old and need a few things handy before signing up, they include:

  • Your home address
  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your email address

You can contact the SSA’s main phone number at 1-800-772-1213, but you’ll still need the previous information to check the status of your claim.

How Frequent Should You Check The Status Of Your Claim?

Typically, it’s best to look at the status of your disability claim once every month. But there are times where you should increase how often you look. Such as if you just sent the SSA information relating to your claim, in this situation you’d want to check every two weeks to confirm that the SSA received the information. If the SSA is late to issue you a decision on your claim, look for an update every other day or so. Although fairly uncommon, the SSA has forgotten to notify the applicant a decision regarding their disability claim. You could also contact the exact Social Security office that has your application to learn what the status of your disability claim is.

What To Ask Regarding Your Disability Claim

Yes, the primary question that you want to be answered is likely, “has the SSA approved my disability claim?” But there are several questions you could ask the SSA relating to your claim:

  • What is there left to do? The SSA will commonly delay your disability claim if they require additional documentation or information. If you ask the SSA if there’s anything left to do, then they could potentially inform you that they’re missing some information that’s required, allowing you to promptly speed up the application process.
  • How long will it take before a decision is made? If you don’t know how long it’s going to take for the SSA to make a decision on your disability claim, simply ask them. It’s extremely common for applicants to feel lost and abandoned since it can take several months and even years before the SSA notifies you that they made a decision about your claim. By asking the SSA how long it is going to take you can get at least an estimate, to which should help calm your nerves and relieve those feelings of lost hope.

To conclude, it’s your responsibility to keep the SSA in check when it comes to your Social Security disability claim. Yes, they will ultimately make the decision, but there’s a lot that you can do to help speed up the decision-making process. If you have any questions or simply want to check on the status of your claim, just call the SSA or check online, you will not be penalized in any way. This is why it’s perfectly okay to call frequently. It can only provide you better peace of mind and the ability to speed up the process entirely.

Avoiding Fraud Accusations While Collecting Social Security Disability Benefits

When you start getting your disability benefits, it appears that you and the Social Security Administration (SSA) are now in correspondences with each other. You provided sufficient proof that you were truly disabled and are unable to work due to a medical condition. Not only that, but also that your disability isn’t temporary and you expect to be disabled for at least one year. But now, you will need to continuously prove to the SSA that you should still be awarded disability benefits that took so long to get.

Fraud is a serious issue for the SSA, and they have to address it every day. When someone gets benefits under pretenses, they are committing fraud. Fraud is becoming more prevalent since the recession, and the SSA is putting more resources into discovering and punishing fraudulent acts involving Social Security disability benefits, starting with its consistent evaluations of each recipient’s disability status. No one wants to have to defend themselves from a fraud claim, especially if you’re not guilty. So stay ahead and use the following tips to avoid a fraud investigation:

 

    • Keep SSA Informed Regarding Your Work Status.  Notify the SSA of any changes in your employment, which may include your work hours, the type of work, and how much you’re earning. Hiding that you’re working or lying about your work status is considered as fraud to the SSA.
    • If You Work, Stay Below the Maximum Income Amount. Stay aware of the SSA’s “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) amount. The SGA amount is $1,180 a month, gross for 2018. If you’re blind, the SGA amount increases to $1,970 a month, gross. So if you’re working or plan on working while receiving Social Security disability benefits, pay extremely close attention to how much you’re earning and never exceed the maximum earning limit. Earning more than the maximum amount without alerting the SSA is considered fraud.
    • SSI Benefits Can Only Be Paid in the U.S. If you move internationally, you need to let Social Security know that immediately and understand that your Social Security disability benefits will be suspended. Keeping your SSD benefits while living outside of the U.S. is also fraud.
    • Report Your Eligibility for Other Disability Benefits. If you learn that you’re eligible to earn different forms of disability benefits, alert the Social Security Administration. The SSA will adjust your disability benefits accordingly to a loss of payments or additional payments from other sources.  If you apply for other disability benefits or if you receive a sum of money relating to your disability, let the SSA know. An example would be a litigation settlement. The SSA will consider your behavior fraudulent if you do not alert them of all other outside disability benefits that you’re collecting.
    • Report Changes in Your Situation. If you’ve moved domestically or your work situation changes, you need to report that to the SSA. Changes that the SSA needs to be aware of are the death of a spouse, divorce, losing custody of a minor who is receiving benefits, the death of someone for whom you have been receiving benefits, being convicted of a crime, moving, or changing your name. If you refuse to alert the SSA about any of these changes, you will be seen as committing fraud. If you aren’t certain what change is necessary to report, it’s better to be safe than sorry so just alert the SSA as soon as possible.
    • If Your Disability or Medical Condition Improves. If your medical condition improves enough so that you can begin working again, notify Social Security asap. It’s obviously very tempting to continue to collect Social Security disability benefits to help support yourself even after finding a job, but doing so would be committing fraud since you actually no longer need government assistance.

To conclude, the best things you can do to avoid being accused of fraud are:

  1. Constantly speak with the Social Security Administration.
  2. Learn and stay up to date with any rule and regulation changes that could pertain to you.
  3. Notify the SSA of any medical, personal, and work status changes.

Choosing the Right Time to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

Apply for Disability at the Right Time

If you’ve recently visited your doctor to discover that you have a medical condition that affects your ability to work, then it makes sense to think about filling out an application for Social Security Disability benefits.

Unfortunately, the Social Security Disability application process is extremely unforgiving and even intimidating to those navigating for the first time.  Common questions include: Is there a time window that I should aim for when applying with my disability? If so, when is it?

You might be surprised to find out that the answer to the previous questions is actually really simple. It’s recommended that you submit an application for Social Security disability benefits as soon as you’re unable to work or maintain your occupation due to your disabling condition.

The Social Security Administration defines “gainful employment” as earning at least $1,040 each month. If you’re earning less than this number, you could potentially be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.

What about Proving Your Claim?

Speak with your physician regarding your plan to submit an application for Social Security Disability benefits. Your doctor could help you determine which medical records you need to begin completing your application. If you discover that you’ll need more documentation, you may still start the application process and possibly reduce the waiting duration as the Social Security disability application process is infamously known to be incredibly lengthy.

Why File So Quickly?

You want to begin your Social Security disability application as soon as possible because the wait time can take as long as 2 years to finally be finished with the process. Be aware that the majority of applications are denied by the Social Security Administration during the 1st round, and even more aren’t approved by the 2nd review. The earlier you file your application, the faster you’ll get a decision to which you can continue to the next step of the SSD application process.

What if Your Disability is not Permanent?

If your medical condition isn’t expected to permanently disable you, but still prevented you from working for at least one year, it is still recommended you file a Social Security disability application. If you’re unsure about the duration of your disability, or if you expect to return to work, you should still begin completing an application to receive benefits.

If your medical condition happens to improve and no longer prevents you from working, you claim can simply be dismissed. But if your condition does not improve and still prevents you from working, you will require financial assistance. If you don’t submit your application as early as possible, you could face financial struggles quickly while still waiting for the SSA to make a decision on your disability claim.

Why You Need To Be Honest On Your Social Security Disability Application

If you’re thinking about applying for Social Security Disability benefits, it’s critical that you are sincere throughout your application. Your medical records could potentially not provide enough information on your condition as you’d like to believe to prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you should be awarded Social Security disability benefits. However, don’t attempt to make it look like your condition is more severe than it truly is, as the Social Security Administration will soon find out that you’re lying.

Your doctor’s notes could only show that you complained of lower back pain and you were given medication to help with the pain. This type of record will not give the SSA enough information on the tasks or activities your disability prevents you from completing. To add, notes from your medical professional can be handwritten and not particularly easy to read or understand. If this is your situation, your Social Security disability caseworker could send a form to your doctor or contact him or her by phone to obtain greater details on what your disability prevents you from doing. This form could reveal information that would prove that you were lying regarding the severity of your condition and may result in your entire application being disqualified if it does not align with the information you submitted.

If your Social Security disability caseworker doesn’t receive a response from your doctor, your claim will be undoubtedly delayed. If two or three weeks have past and your caseworker still has not received a response from your doctor, your disability caseworker will submit a Consultative Exam or utilize other methods to obtain the required information. A Consultative Exam is completed by a doctor working for the SSA. If you’re requested to undergo a Consultative Exam, do not lie to the doctor completing the exam, give true answers and information regarding your condition.

Do not make it appear as if your condition is more severe than it really is, and do not be dramatic with how your condition affects your everyday life while taking the Consultative Exam, as the doctor completing the exam is provided your health and medical records. Always be honest with your physician and the Social Security Administration. It’s important that you don’t allow anxious and worrying thoughts to cloud your judgment when speaking about the extent of your disability. Stick to the truth since if you’re dishonest, the SSA will most likely not approve you for Social Security disability benefits.

Before talking with the SSA you should take a moment and think about the severity of your disability; what exactly does it prevent you from doing and how is it affecting your ability to complete day to day tasks. The SSA hires highly experienced medical professionals to determine if you meet their definition of disabled. The SSA could refuse to approve you for Social Security disability benefits if they find that your condition does not meet their criteria. For example, if your disability prevents you from doing your old job, but doesn’t interfere with another type of work, the SSA won’t consider you disabled since you’re still able to work in another occupation.

Make a note that the doctor conducting your Consultative Exam is not going to give you any medication or treatment. He or she is also not a contributor to the outcome of your claim. They will just perform the exam and send their report to the SSA. Your disability caseworker will let you know if you will need to take a Consultative Exam.  You are not forced to take the exam. However, if you refuse your only option would be to have a decision be made on your disability claim using whatever information the SSA has on file. Doing so may potentially lead to having your Social Security disability claim quickly denied.

Comply with the physician when you go in to take the Consultative Exam. You could potentially be asked to complete a task that may be painful due to your disability, but you need to make an attempt regardless. Blatantly refusing or not giving it a shot may adversely affect the chances of success for your Social Security disability claim.

If your Social Security disability claim is denied by the SSA do not worry, hope is not lost. You can submit a disability appeal, but it’s highly recommended you work with a professional Social Security disability attorney to make sure you’re doing everything possible to increase the likelihood of receiving benefits. If you really are disabled, eventually you will be awarded Social Security disability benefits.

Keep a Journal to Strengthen Your Social Security Disability Application

If you’re planning on submitting an application for Social Security Disability benefits, one thing that could significantly increase your chances of being approved is maintaining a detailed journal of the severity of your disability and how it affects your ability to complete everyday tasks. You’ll discover that most professional Social Security disability attorneys agree that maintaining a detailed journal that addresses your illnesses or pain experienced on a day to day basis is one of the best ways to strengthen your claim.

When writing in your journal make sure to add all the tasks and activities that your disability prevents you from completing. Definitely always include the time and date of any accidents related to your disability. This could include the instance of a seizure, headache, or a period of crippling body pain. Document the duration of these occurrences and determine what situations cause these periods of pain, in addition to any medications that help reduce the symptoms. Write down all the medications you’re taking and note whether they produce any adverse side effects. Narrowing down the specific body parts that are affected by pain in addition to including the severity of the pain may also help show the amount of pain you’re experiencing.

Possessing enough information about your disability will help strengthen your case if a judge is required to decide whether you should receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Be aware that saying you’re in pain will not suffice. You must descriptively write down anything you’re experiencing as a result of your disability. Make sure to be extremely detailed in your journal without appearing as if you’re exaggerating.

Describing pain is extremely difficult since other people are unable to feel what you’re experiencing, making it subjective. This is why a judge cannot simply award you SSDI or SSI benefits just because you say you’re in pain; you have to provide sufficient details to help depict your pain severity.

These journals are extremely beneficial, especially for conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, chronic pain, and anxiety. A potential method to be approved for SSDI or SSI benefits is to prove to the judge that you’re unable to work due to your condition. Explain in your journal descriptively how your disability prevents you from working. If the judge recognizes that you cannot work due to your disability, he or she will be more likely to decide in your favor. Maintaining a journal is definitely helpful if you want a favorable ruling.

Effectively describing and explaining your disabling condition will be the key to success in your disability claim. This is because it will aid the judge in deciding whether or not you should be awarded SSDI or SSI benefits in addition to assisting doctors, caseworkers, and anyone assigned to your cause to entirely grasp what you’re struggling with on a day to day basis. Your pain is preventing you from functioning properly; you need to effectively depict this if you wish to receive a ruling in your favor, the success of your Social Security disability claim depends on it.

You do not need to integrate complicated formal writing styles into your journal. Instead, maintain a simple but illustrative writing pattern that depicts your daily experiences with feelings, pain and the effect your condition has on a day to day basis. Cautiously decide which words to use especially when writing about your feelings. By supplying a greater perspective into your disabling condition, you can significantly raise your chances of a successful Social Security disability claim.