man with crossed fingersTop Five Mistakes People Make When Applying for Disability Benefits

Over the years we have helped thousands of clients with their Social Security disability benefit applications. Here are a few of the most common mistakes we have seen people make.

  1. Waiting too long to apply.

    Legally you can apply for disability benefits the day after you are unable to work or if your eligible income drops below a certain threshold (about $1,000 in 2014). However, some people struggle and wait for years before applying when they could have been receiving benefits all along.

  2. Appealing denials wrong.

    There are two common mistakes people make here. The first is waiting too long to appeal a denial. Once the Social Security Administration makes a denial decision on your application you only have sixty days to appeal that decision. Unless you can prove mitigating circumstances your case will most likely be closed and you will need to start your application all over again, potentially losing months of time.

    Secondly, many people do not appeal at all if they are denied. Most people are initially denied because their disability does not fit inside a set of parameters listed by the SSA or their medical records are not clear enough for the examiner to connect the dots properly. The highest chance a person has for obtaining disability benefits is appealing their case before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) where statistically almost 50% of the applicants win their benefits.

  3. Not following medical orders or going to the doctor.

    Most people who have a disability warranting disability benefits are unable to work or have severely diminished income. However, sickness and ailments typically require medical intervention which usually costs a lot of money. With ongoing medical problems many doctors want to see their patients monthly and medications can really cut into a budget. However, the SSA needs to see a medical records trail. They want to be sure that, despite following medical advice and taking medications properly, you are still disabled. If a medication would solve your problem and negate the need for benefits then you will probably be denied. Consistent medical records documenting doctor visits and failed treatments can prove valuable in appealing disability denials. A good case is well documented with medical records from multiple doctors and professionals.
  4. Going it alone.

    Many people try to appeal disability denials on their own instead of seeking qualified help. Although there have been people who are successful in obtaining their benefits without legal help, chances of approval increase when a third party who has experience in dealing with the SSA is able to assist. Remember, we are dealing with a government agency with its own rules, regulations and culture. The Cochran Firm’s attorneys will not charge you a fee for helping you obtain disability benefits unless you win.

  5. Over or underestimating your disability.

    When you apply for disability you must simply be yourself. Most examiners and judges have seen it all and can read through falsehoods pretty quickly. But falsehoods are not always deliberate attempts to aggrandize a disability’s effects. Sometimes a person has learned to cope with their disability to the point that they don’t realize how much or how severely the disability is affecting their daily life and if asked about it will understate their condition. In some cases understating their condition can cost someone disability benefits just as fast as overstating.

  6. Giving Up.

    The application and appeals process takes a long time. It can easily take three to four months just to get a decision on the initial application. Add another couple of months for a ruling on the first appeal. The average national wait for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge is about twelve months. Add it up and it can easily take two years to apply and appeal twice. Many people simply give up or, due to finances, return to work. However, both of these may destroy your opportunity to obtain benefits. Don’t give up!

There you have it- five (with a bonus 6th) common mistakes we have seen people make when applying for Social Security disability benefits. Take a minute to make sure you are not making any of these potential benefit killers. If you need help applying for or appealing benefits contact us today for a FREE evaluation.



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About the Cochran Firm Disability Lawyers

Recognized as one of the nation’s premier law firms, The Cochran Firm handles cases on behalf of clients seeking a Personal Injury Lawyer, Criminal Defense, Medical Malpractice, Bankruptcy Attorney in Atlanta or Social Security Disability Lawyer.The Firm can be reached at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476) or fill out the form on this page. “Working for You.” Article by Benjamin A. Irwin.

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