Most people do not expect to have to file for disability benefits but many do. In the United States, there are more than 37 million people who are classified as being disabled. That amounts to about 12% of the American population. There were 2.5 million disabled workers receiving benefits in 2012 who ranged in ages from their 20s to 40s. At that same time, nearly 5% of wage earners around the country were receiving Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. That amounted to about 8.8 million people. From hiring a disability lawyer to being patient and persistent, there are things you can do to make your disability claim succeed.
1. Start right away. As soon as you become disabled, you should start the process. While the process differs a bit from place to place, it is long and complicated no matter where you file for your disability benefits. Because of that, you do not want to wait until you are starting to run out of money to file your claim. The processing of disability applications can take between one and two years. This can be delayed if you need to request a hearing or if you have to appeal a decision that is not what you want. Your claim will be judged on the merits, not on how how much money you have in your bank account so the sooner you file, the better.
2. Talk to a disability lawyer. People often think that they can get through the process for filing for SSDI without talking to a disability attorney but you will do yourself a lot of good by at least talking to a Social Security lawyer. The process of filing for disability is very long and complicated. You really need a good disability lawyer to help you navigate the process that changes a lot. The rules and regulations that are used to evaluate disability claims are complicated and they change on a regular basis. There are some real benefits to working with a Social Security attorney, some are:
- They can help you understand the process.
- They can help you complete all of the paperwork.
- They can help you meet all of your deadlines.
- They can help you compile supporting documentation.
- They can represent you in any hearings.
- They can fight for you and your needs.
3. Keep documentation of everything. You should take notes. You may think that you will not forget certain things but you will. Many people keep a journal to record their experiences and how the disability and experience is impacting their lives. Keep receipts from all doctor and other medical appointments. This includes information from any prescriptions you have filled and physical therapy you attend. If you need to take a taxi to an appointment or an Uber, keep those receipts. In cases like this, the more documentation you have, the stronger your case will be.
4. Get your medical team involved. When people become disabled, they frequently have a number of medical professionals who are enlisted to help treat their injuries and deal with getting back to as normal a life as possible. This can include pain management specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, doctors and pharmacists. Let them all know that you have a disability lawyer and that you are filing a claim. If you want your team to talk to your disability lawyer, you will need to sign releases for each but you should do that. Everything that goes between them and your disability lawyer is covered by the attorney client privilege so you do not need to worry about that.
5. Stay positive. Most disability claims are rejected the first time. If and when you receive a rejection for your claim, do not give up. You should begin working on your appeal with your disability lawyer as soon as you can. Be prepared to have your claim rejected and you will be less upset if that happens. That is not the end of the road for your disability claim, it is just another step in the process. Work with your injury lawyer and make sure you get everything in on time.
You should be able to get the disability benefits that you need and you deserve.