Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides monthly payments to eligible individuals when a disabling injury or illness prevents them from working or participating in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Unfortunately, applying for SSDI is a long and grueling process that ends in disappointment for the vast majority of applicants. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies approximately 70 percent of initial claims. Fortunately, though a roughly 30 percent SSDI acceptance rate may not sound particularly promising, there are numerous ways to improve your chances of being awarded benefits.
Considering applying for SSDI? Here’s what you should know, including how the exemplary Boston attorneys with Keefe Disability Law can help you navigate the SSDI application (or appeals) process to get the benefits you deserve.
Make Sure You Meet Basic SSDI Eligibility Requirements
The SSA has a strict definition of disability. Even if your doctor declares you disabled and says you can’t (or shouldn’t) work, the disability examiner evaluating your eligibility for SSDI may not agree. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must:
- Have worked in jobs covered by Social Security long enough to amass sufficient work credits
- Have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents work (or SGA) and is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death
Still not sure if you qualify for SSDI? Let Keefe Disability Law’s skilled legal team help you explore your eligibility for benefits.
Complete the Entire Application
While this may seem obvious, the SSDI application is long and complicated. It’s far too easy to inadvertently gloss over a question or skip a difficult-to-answer question intending to come back to it later, only to forget and turn in an application that’s incomplete. Errors or omissions in your SSDI application can lead to a denial (and appeal) that could add months – or even years – to how long it takes to get approved for benefits. Don’t risk it. Carefully look over your application or get someone to help you proofread the paperwork before submitting it.
Provide Supporting Evidence for Your Disability From Acceptable Medical Sources
Your health may be too poor to engage in substantial gainful activity, but don’t expect the SSA to take your word for it. When evaluating your claim, the disability examiners at Disability Determination Services (DDS) want test results, imaging scans, doctor’s notes, and other medical evidence for your physical or mental impairment, as outlined in the Blue Book Listing of Impairments for that condition. (You can also win benefits by submitting evidence showing that your disability is equally disabling as one that qualifies.) Going through this evidence, DDS wants to see that you attended follow-up visits with your doctor and are completing your treatment plan as prescribed.
Additionally, your evidence must come from acceptable medical sources (AMS), such as licensed medical or osteopathic doctors; or licensed or certified psychologists, optometrists, podiatrists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, advanced practice registered nurses, or physician assistants for claims related to their fields of practice. The SSA gives more weight to the opinions of specialists than primary care physicians.
Submit a Disability Journal With Your SSDI Application
A journal describing how your condition affects you throughout the day can go a long way toward helping the DDS examiner assigned to your claim understand the severity of your disability. The journal should include honest and thorough information on symptoms and limitations caused by your medical impairment, as well as those resulting from prescribed treatments and medications.
Keep Close Tabs on the Status of Your Claim
It could be months before you receive a decision regarding your SSDI claim. Keeping tabs on the status of your claim on the SSA website makes it easy to respond to any messages or requests for additional information in a timely manner. This helps keep the SSDI application and evaluation process moving as quickly as possible.
Hire an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney
Social Security disability lawyers know the complexities of the SSDI application process inside and out. As a result, working with a skillful attorney when completing your SSDI application is one of the most effective ways to improve your chances for approval. A seasoned disability lawyer can make sure your application is complete, correct, and includes sufficient medical evidence from the appropriate sources – while you focus on your health.
Schedule a Consultation
Complete the contact form or call Keefe Disability Law at 508-283-5500 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation regarding your SSDI application or denied claim. For more information, request a complimentary download of 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim.