Improving Your Chances of Winning Social Security or SSI Disability

Providing full information, going to the doctor, and hiring a lawyer all improve your chances of getting an approval.

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Gavel and Scales

When it comes to improving your chances of winning win disability benefits (either Social Security disability benefits or SSI), there are a number of things you can do.

Provide Full Information

Improving the odds of winning disability benefits really starts with providing full and complete information on an application for disability. In other words, make sure that Social Security knows about all of of your medical and/or psychological conditions and knows about your treatment sources (dcotors, clinic, and hosptials). You want to receive full and proper considersation for any impairment that limits your ability to work, and Social Security needs information from all of your medical providers.

Provide Dates and Contact Info for Medical Visits

When it comes to indicating such information, do the following: Supply the name, address, and phone number of every medical facility that has treated you. Also, supply the dates of treatment. Doing this will ensure that the disability claims examiner (at the disability determination agency that evaluates disability claims) who handles your case will have access to the information that is needed to fairly adjudicate your case. AND, it may save processing time on your claim by simply making it easier for the disability examiner to do his or her job.

Comply With Deadlines

If the Social Security office sends you a letter asking you to respond with certain information within a specified number of days, do so. If you receive a questionaire that needs to be completed, complete the form and send it back in promptly. If the disability examiner handling your medical evaluation schedules you for a consultative medical exam, go to the exam and be on time. And, last but definitely not least, if you receive a denial on your claim, make sure you request your appeal in a timely fashion. (Social Security will allow you 60 days to request an appeal, but since the appeal paperwork only takes a maximum of 30 to 45 minutes, you should send in the appeal ASAP, to save processing time on your claim.)

Go to the Doctor Regularly

Simply going to the doctor and maintaining regular medical treatment improves your chances of winning disability. Medical documentation is the only basis for Social Security to evaluate your disability case, so the more the better. If Social Security sends you to a medical exam (a CE, or consultative medical examination), this generally means that the disability examiner does not have enough medical evidence to work with, or does not have enough recent medical evidence to use for an allowance (that is, an approval for benefits). This, of course, is not a good sign. 

Will going to a CE make up "the difference"? Not really. It will provide enough recent evidence for the examiner to close (deny) a case, but a disability case will seldom be won on the basis of a consultative exam having filled in the gaps. So, if at all possible (and this may be very difficult if you no longer have health insurance), keep going to the doctor.

Consider Hiring a Disability Attorney

Getting a qualified disability attorney (or even a non-attorney social security disability advocate) is a solid means for improving your chances of winning disability benefits. When should you get one? If your claim is denied and you need to go to a hearing before an administrative law judge, having an attorney can definitely make a difference, improving not only your chances to win, but also your chances of receiving the most favorable onset (how far back your benefits will start).

More Information

The following links may also be helpful for improving your chances to win disability benefits: 

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