Applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a complex and confusing process. The biggest mistake a person can make is to become so intimidated by the process that he or she decides that applying for social security benefits is not worth it. As a result, a person with a qualifying disability may be deprived of the benefits that he or she needs to survive.
At the law firm of Frank M. Eidson, P.A., we don’t want that to happen to you.
Orlando Social Security Disability lawyer Frank M. Eidson has decades of experience with assisting disabled residents in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida. If you would like to learn more about the social security disability application process, contact our firm today for a free consultation.
Learning more about what is involved in seeking disability benefits may help to alleviate your fears and ease your concerns about moving ahead. In particular, it may help you to know about common mistakes that can arise when seeking SSD benefits – and how to avoid them.
1. Seeking Benefits without a Lawyer’s Help
We put this mistake at the top of this list for a reason. Our firm believes it is highly important to get help from a lawyer as soon as possible when you apply for disability benefits.
Although you are not required to have a lawyer, you will find that a lawyer can provide invaluable assistance to you, including:
- Making sure your application is accurate and complete
- Working with your doctor to make sure important information is communicated to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) team that will make the medical decision on your claim
- Helping you to file timely appeals if your application is denied
- Representing you on appeal, including filing briefs on your behalf and advocating for you in a hearing
- Pursuing the full amount of benefits you are entitled to receive, including any past due benefits (or back pay).
Don’t make the mistake of trying to seek SSD benefits on your own. We also advise you to get help from a lawyer rather than a non-attorney advocate.
2. Failing to Get Proper Medical Care and Treatment
If a medical condition is keeping you from working, then you should get medical attention right away. Be open and honest with the doctor and describe all of your symptoms. Also, follow all recommended tests and treatment plans. If you do not, it may hurt your case for benefits. Remember: Your medical records ultimately will play a key role in whether the Social Security Administration (SSA) approves your claim and awards benefits to you.
3. Seeking Benefits When You Work (and Earn) Too Much
To qualify for SSD benefits, you must show that you are no longer able to engage in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) due to your disability. If you earn a certain amount each month (the SSA changes the cap every year), then the SSA will consider you to be capable of engaging in substantial gainful activity and will deny your claim.
In 2015, the SGA amount is $1,090 per month for non-blind individuals and $1,820 per month for blind individuals. You should keep these numbers in mind as you apply for SSD benefits. If you are earning more than those amounts, your application will likely be denied.
4. Filing for Unemployment Benefits
Let’s say you are fired from work because you can no longer do your job due to your medical condition. The first step many people will take is to file for unemployment benefits. However, if you are suffering from a disabling condition, filing for unemployment benefits actually would be a mistake.
When you seek unemployment benefits, you represent that you are still able to work. However, when you apply for SSD benefits, you are representing that you are unable to work. So, applying for unemployment benefits sends a mixed message.
If your disability arose from a work-related injury or illness, you should instead consider applying for workers’ compensation benefits. You may be able to start receiving workers’ compensation benefits payments much sooner than SSD benefits. Also, you can continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits even after your SSD claim is approved. (Your SSD benefits would be subject to an offset.)
5. Waiting Too Long Before You Apply for SSD Benefits
If you believe you are eligible for disability benefits, you should either apply as soon as possible or send a written notice to the SSA that states your intention to apply within the next six months. The latter establishes a “protective filing” date.
If your application is approved, you will be eligible for back pay that goes back to your application date or protective filing date. You may also be eligible to receive back pay for a period of up to 12 months before your application date (depending on the date your disability arose, or “established onset date”).
6. Failing to Respond to Requests for Information
When the DDS team – consisting of a claims examiner and medical consultant – reviews your application, the team may request additional information. In some cases, the DDS team may ask you to undergo a medical examination.
Make sure that you cooperate with the DDS team and comply with its requests. The bottom line is that you want to make sure the team has as much information as it needs to make its decision on your eligibility for benefits. If you resist or simply ignore the DDS team’s requests, it may jeopardize your claim.
7. Not Filing a Timely Appeal When Your Claim Is Denied
You may receive a letter from the SSA, informing you that your application has been denied. Pay attention to the date on that letter. You will have 60 days from that date in which to file a request for reconsideration. If your application is denied again, then you will have 60 days from that date in which to request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
If you fail to file these requests within the 60-day time period, you typically lose your right to appeal the denial of your claim. Only in rare circumstances will the SSA allow an appeal to go forward when the 60-day deadline is missed.
The best thing to do is to contact an attorney right away. The lawyer can then file the request for you in a timely fashion and begin work on your appeal.
8. Ignoring Benefits Available to Family Members
If you are deemed eligible for SSD benefits, members of your family may be eligible as well based on your disability and work history. Don’t overlook these important SSD benefits for family members. An attorney can explore all benefits options available to you and your family members and help you to apply for them.
Contact an Orlando Social Security Disability Lawyer
Attorney Frank M. Eidson gives personal attention to each case our law firm handles. When you contact Frank M. Eidson, P.A., for assistance with your Social Security Disability benefits claim, you can count on Frank to do everything possible to pursue the benefits you deserve. He truly appreciates what is at stake for you.
To schedule a free and confidential consultation, simply call our office today or reach us through our online form. We serve clients in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida.
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